Thursday, December 24, 2015

Changes for the 2016 and 2017 Southeastern Trail Series

Over the last year I have been considering options for creating a 50 Mile Race at Oak Mountain State Park (OMSP.) Although the park is almost 10,000 acres and has well over 50 miles of trails, it’s hard to come up with a route that “flows” smoothly and will be fun to run.

I have two goals for the 50 mile course and race. First, create a single loop course that does not repeat any trails. That one will be tough and require permission from private landowners outside the park. The map below is a 33 mile loop we may use in 2016. Using the course map below, the 50 mile runners will have to repeat 17 miles of the first lap. This course was measured using Google Earth. By zooming in as close as possible, I was able to follow the actual trails in most places. Over the next few weeks I plan to get out to the park and measure various sections with my GPS and find out just how close the map is.

Second, the real motivation for coming up with a 50 mile loop for 2017 is to add a 100 mile race.  In my events application to OMSP for the 50 Mile to be held in 2016, I explained my hope to be able to have a 100 mile race in 2017. We cannot get official approval until we file the race application in November of 2016 but everyone at the park seemed really excited about the idea. Even if we can’t get permission to use private property for a portion of the race, we already have a 33 mile loop and I am pretty sure I can come up with a 40 mile loop within the park.

I really don’t like using bike trails and paved roads but again, there is no other option. The course will use the Lake Trail and Rattle Snake Ridge Trail but those are very nice trails and I enjoy running them. We will also need to use the Red Trail starting at the South Trail Head going all the way up to just above Blood Rock.

Starting last summer I began running sections of potential trails for the 50 and measuring various trail combinations. After the first of the year, I plan to measure all sections of the course below and get a total length. Then I will be able add or delete whatever it takes to get the length right.

The course will be difficult. At least two long sections will be on “Bandit Trails” that will be fairly hard to negotiate. One of these trails will be a tough, tricky climb up to the top of the northwest ridge of Double Oak Mountain. That said, I hiked up that trail on 12/22, right up through the cliff band over piles of soaking wet leaves in light rain. I then went back down the same way I came up. I survived!! There will be another section of Bandit Trail below Peavine Falls but this one is not too bad. 

Below is my “First Draft” map. We will see how it comes out. 
This map was drawn with the start at the Cabins. the 2016 race will start at Redbud Pavilion

The following is a turn by turn description of the course for Birmingham runners that are familiar with Oak Mtn State Park. As I said, until I actually measure it, this is just my best guess!
The race will NOT start in the Cabins as planned. Four of the Cabins are already rented so the race will start at Redbud Pavilion instead. For the 2017 race, we will reserve all the cabins for 50 and 100 mile runners. I plan to be standing at the door of the OMSP office when they open on Friday, November 17, 2016 to reserve all 10 Cabins. I figure 100 mile runners would like the idea of getting up, eating breakfast in their own cabin, walking a few yards to the start and using their cabin as a private aid station during the race.

In 2017 the race will start at the Cabins on Lake Tranquility pictured below.

The 2016 race will start at Redbud Pavilion at 6:30 AM with a loop around the BMX track then take a left on the “Chimney Trail” to the “Dog Cat Snake Trail” and over to the North Trail Head (NTH.) From the NTH, runners will cross Findley Dr. to the NTH parking lot, then take the trail back to the campground. They will run through the campground and cross over to the northwest side of Oak Mountain Lake. Runners will then following the trail along the shoreline, cross the spillway and continue heading northeast along the lake shore on the gravel road. At the end of the gravel road, enter the paved road and continue straight ahead, past the north toll-booth to the road across Lunker Lake Dam. (3.68 Miles)

From there the course follows Findley Drive about 1 mile back south to an old roadway that turns off to the left along a small creek. This trail starts at the parking area with just enough room for two or three cars. This parking area is 0.4 miles north of the North Trail Head. (There will be a water only aid station here.) The trail follows the creek to a fork where two small creeks merge. Runners cross the creek and angles left following the creek upstream through an old quarry cut. Just before the spot where the creek running straight down Double Oak Mtn makes a left, (this is the creek you have been following upstream) the trail turns right and goes straight up the mountain paralleling the creek.

Continue uphill through a very rocky area covered in boulders to the base of the cliffs. The trail climbs through the rock band to the left side of the cliff face, then angles right up to the crest. The course then follows the ridge crest heading southwest. Near the end of the ridge, the trail turns left across a short shoulder and up to the Eagle Nest Overlook Trail. Follow the trail along the crest, then down the hill to the left and connect into the Blue Trail heading back to the NTH. At the trail head, follow the Yellow trail back to Maggie’s Glen, switch to the White Trail for ½ mile to the Cabin Trail then through the cabins and back to Redbud Pavilion Aid Station. (9.5 Miles)

Leave the aid station heading up the paved road toward Findley Dr. After about 100 yards, go left onto the bike trail, past “the Rock Garden” and left on the Yellow Trail. Stay on the Yellow Trail, past Redbud Pavilion, up past Tranquility Dam and around the lake on the southwest shore. At the end of the lake, take the trail to the right, up the hill to the ruins of the Chapel in the old scout camp. Turn left on the gravel road. Stay on the road past the cabins being renovated and up to the top of the hill to the overhead, wooden, Camp Tranquility sign.

Just before the sign, go left onto the Thunder Trail for the long climb to the top of the West Ridge of Double Oak Mtn. At the top of the ridge, go right on the White Trail and down to the Bike Road along the crest. Immediately turn right back onto the start of the Thunder Trail for a few 100 yards. At the intersection with the Yellow/White Connector Trail, go left on the connector for the steep descent down the mountain. Stay on Y/W all the way to the bottom and just before reaching the Group Camp Road, go left onto the Yellow Trail. Follow the Yellow Trail, heading southwest until you come to the paved road leading up to the Wildlife Center. Go right down the hill to Terrace Drive and to the Marina Aid Station #2. (15.0 Miles)

The Marina by the Marina Aid Station

Leave the aid station heading northeast on the paved road across a short section of lake, then turn left onto the “Lake Trail.” Follow the Lake Trail, across the dam to the intersection with Rattle Snake Ridge Trail and go right. Follow the RR Trail all the way around until it finally coming out at the south end of Double Oak Lake. Follow the paved road a short distance then along the shoreline, across the beach, through the patio area and back to the Marina Aid Station #3. (19.6 Miles)

The Lake Trail around Double Oak Lake

Leave the AS heading southwest along Terrace Drive to the Wildlife Center Trail on your left. Head up the trail going through the boardwalk for 1/3 mile until it intersects with the Yellow Trail. Go right on Yellow to the second intersection with the Jekyll n Hyde Trail and turn left. Follow Jekyll N Hyde down the hill to the Peavine Falls Road. Cross the road and go left on the bike trail, “Mr. Toad.” Follow the bike trail up the Johnson Mountain trail, then cross the paved road to the BUMP Trail. Follow BUMP all the way up the mountain and up past “Blood Rock.” Just past Blood Rock take a sharp right onto the trail leading back to the Peavine Falls Road and the gate on the end of the Red Bike Road. (I think the call it the Red/Green Connector)  At the Peavine Rd, go left down the hill staying on the Peavine Falls Rd to the Peavine Falls Parking lot and the Peavine Falls Aid Station. (27.3 Miles)
Peavine Falls

Leave the PVF Aid Station headed northeast on the white trail. Just as the white trail turns left runners will go right down a faint trail angling downhill to the south. Follow the trail until it crosses Lower Peavine Creek and turns left heading north up the opposite side of the creek. Continue climbing up past the stone overlook, then continue uphill until the trail merges into the Blue Trial. At the intersection, go right heading northeast along the Blue Trail. Continue on Blue for a little less than 3 miles. Go left at the intersection with the Orange Trail heading down the mountain. Stay on The Orange Trail across the Red Fire Road (bike trail) and back up the hill to the intersection with the White Trail. Go right down the White Trail.

Follow the white trail along the ridge, over Shackleford Point and along the crest for about a mile. The white trail drops sharply downhill and continues down until it joins the Yellow Trail. At Yellow turn left and follow the Yellow trail for about a mile until Yellow makes a sharp left and crosses a creek just above Tranquility Lake. Where the Yellow Trail turns left, runners continue straight ahead keeping the lake on your left. Follow the trail back to the Cabins and continue on the paved cabin road. Circle around the lake heading back left along the northwest shore of the lake, still keeping the lake on your left. Continue around the lake on the gravel road to the paved road at the BMX track. Go left down the road and back to the 50K finish. (33 Miles) Fifty mile runners will go through the Cabins Aid Station and continue back out on the course for 17 more miles. Just what that 17 mile loop will be is yet to be decided.

At this time I plan to leave the race date where it is but I may make a few adjustments by next year.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Tranquility Lake 50K Trail Race

The Tranquility Lake 50K & 25K Trail Race - Final race of the 2015 Southeastern Trail Series
Saturday, November 21st was the third running of the Tranquility Lake 50K at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama, just south of Birmingham. We had absolutely perfect running conditions with temps in the mid 40’s at the start and beautiful blue skies all day.

MRuns (Suman Silwal) picture just before the start of the Race.

We had 164 registered runners and about 150 starters. Runners make a short loop around the BMX track to spread out before hitting almost a mile of gnarly, narrow trail up past Tranquility Lake Dam, around the lake and up to the ruins of the old chapel at Camp Tranquility Scout Camp. From there runners follow the Group Camp gravel road up to the entrance of the camp then downhill on the camp road for another mile where they again enter the single track, Yellow/White Connector Trail for the longest climb in the park.

A shot of the sun coming up over Tranquility Lake as runners climb up along the dam just a few hundred yards after the start. I don’t know who took this, but if it is your picture, please let me know so I can give you credit.

Just over 2 miles into the race runners start the difficult, 630 ft. climb in just under a mile to the top of the West Ridge of Double Oak Mountain. Our mountain may be small by western US standards, but you will not find more difficult trails to negotiate anywhere. Once on top of the ridge, runners follow the Red Bike Road for a couple of miles along or near the top of the ridge before heading up the Green Trail over to the Peavine Falls Aid Station. Everyone had better stock up on water here. It’s a very long 6.8 miles to the next water at the North Trail Head.

After leaving the aid station runners stay on a wide gravel trail for about ½ mile before the very steep, treacherous descent into Peavine Falls Gorge. The trail loops around almost under the fall which was really pretty after several days of rain earlier in the week. Runners then follow Peavine Creek downstream for about 200 yards before starting up the short but very steep climb out of the gorge.

Peavine Falls by Lisa Booher

As runners leave the gorge they enter the Blue Trail for the 5 mile run to the north end of the park. The Blue Trail climbs slowly to the East Ridge of Double Oak Mountain, then along the ridge for several miles. The trail then abruptly drops off the ridge downhill for a short distance to the Eagle Nest Overlook trail where runners make a hard right for another short but very steep climb up to the overlook ridge. After a short run along the ridge runners start a very difficult, very steep descent down from the overlook to rejoin the Blue Trail about a mile from the North Trail Head.

At just under 13 miles from the start, runners finally reach the Water Only aid station at the NTH and begin the final 3 mile segment. After running along a very gentle section of trail for a couple of miles they return to Tranquility Lake and follow the shore line all the way around the north and west side of the lake, through the State Park Cabins, past the old dam and back to the Start/Finish aid station. That is the end of the race for 25K runners. The 50K’ers get to do it all again.

The Tranquility Lake 50K is the final race of the Southeastern Trail Series and is the race that determines the Series Winners. The STS consists of a Short Series and a Long Series with 6 separate points races, each with a short or a long race option, and one race, The Run for Kids Challenge, with one short race (a 10K) and two long race options (a 50K and a 12 Hour Race.) The points earned in each race are totaled at the end of the year and Points Champions get some really cool stuff including Salomon Jackets, gift certificates and entry into all 2016 Southeastern Trail Series Races.

This was the third year of the series and there were no surprises as Lisa Booher and Suman Silwal won the championship. In fact, Lisa and Suman have won the championship all three years. Things were a lot closer in the Short Series with Brian Boatman and Kay Estes winning the Short Series championships with outstanding performances in the Tranquility Lake 25K.

Lisa Booher and Jason Wheat, first overall in the 50K

This was the most successful year ever for Southeastern Trial Runs. All of our races grew significantly and it has been so much fun to watch our regular runners make huge improvements over the three years of the Trail Series. Some of our regular runners in the trail series started with very little running experience and have made great improvements in strength and endurance. Many have now run their first Ultra with us. Many have gone on to finish their first 100 mile race. It is great to be able to share in the success of all those that have participated in our races and cheer them on to their own personal victories and successes.

Great Job EVERYONE. I can’t wait until next year!!

The first race of 2016 is the Lake Martin 100. We only have three Lodge Rooms Left. If you want to stay at the only lodging close to the start better reserve a room now.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Building a new section of Green Trail at Oak Mountain State Park

 A progress report

The largest state park in Alabama is Oak Mountain State Park with almost 10,000 Acres and over 50 miles of "Official" Trails. The old Peavine Falls Trail, the Green Trail, leading from Terrace Drive near the Treetop Nature Center over the west ridge of Double Oak Mountain and down to Peavine Falls is in bad shape. The trail was built many years ago and the first mile of the trail, up to the Red Bike Road, the fire road, runs almost straight up the mountain. The lower half of the Green Trail is in pretty good condition but the steep final climb up to the fire road, about 300 to 400 yards is badly eroded and very difficult to hike or run.

Over the last few weeks Steve Cloues and I have scouted a new route up the mountain to replace the section that is in such bad condition. Three weeks ago I marked and cleared the proposed route. Friday and Saturday, June 26 and 27, I completed the first half of the trail from where the new trail leaves the existing Green Trail over to where the new section of trail crosses the Jekyll and Hyde bike trail. Here is the report I have created.

Trail Work Report on the New Section of the Green Trail
June 26 and 27, 2015
The new section of Green Trail is now usable starting from where it cuts off the existing Green Trail over to where it crosses Jekyll and Hyde Bike Trail. The steep sections of traverse coming down off the ridge are narrow and my need additional widening. Below, the section of trail that is completed is marked in Transparent Green over the Red Line indication the new trail route. The section approaching the Red Fire Road (marked in red only) is yet to be completed.

The following pictures were posted on Instagram as I cleared the path and created trails Friday and Saturday. I will try to get back up this week and use the weed-eater to clear out some of the dense undergrowth on the trail down from the Red Fire Road. We are tentatively planning a BUTS work party on July 11 to try to finish this section.

Green Trail along the ridge near the beginning of the new section.

The steep section coming down off the ridge.

The two images above of the narrow section along the traverse off the ridge.

Where the new section of Green Trail crossed Jekyll and Hyde Bike Trail.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Some Exciting New Products for Ultrarunning

(They work for just road running too)
Since I purchased my first pair of Trail Shoes back in 2005 or ’06 I have seen a lot of changes in the sport of Trail Running and ultra running. I actually had to drive to Chattanooga to find a store that had a selection of trail shoes and a knowledgeable sales person to help choose that first pair. For fuels, there were GUs and Gels and Hammer had energy products designed for bike racing that worked OK for trail racing, to a point. Electrolytes were pretty much limited to capsules you swallowed every hour or so during a run or race. All this worked OK, Usually!
If you needed a hydration pack, you purchased a small hiking pack from an outdoors store. Things like water bottle holders and jackets you purchased from the local road running store or hiking store. Back then, I actually make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to take on long runs and I threw in a few cookies. (Well, I still take cookies.)

As I mentioned, many of these products were designed for endurance biking events, especially Hammer Products and there is one big difference between a 5 hour bike race and a 5 hour 50K run. A bike rider’s upper body stays fairly stationary on the bike during a ride. The legs do almost all of the moving. In a run, your upper body is bouncing up and down with every single step. When your body bounces up and down, so does your stomach. If what you consume during the event is not absorbed almost as fast as you take it in, all that stuff starts sloshing around and your stomach rebels. You will likely spend the rest of your race battling nausea.

The electrolyte caps work great as long as you remember to take them on schedule. In reality (reality being the middle of a very long race, 10 hours, 20 hours, 30 hours, etc…) you will likely encounter two problems. First, after hours of running your mind just doesn’t function at peak performance. If a runner is using electrolytes, (salt caps,) and plans to take one cap per hour every hour, you will likely have no problem for 4 or 5 hours. But, as the day or night wears on it is really easy to get off schedule. Is simply becomes difficult just to keep up with the time. I have looked at my watch and noted it was 10 minutes until I need to take a salt cap. The next time I was aware of looking at my watch it was 10 minutes past when I should have taken the tablet and I had no idea if I actually took the capsule or not. By hour 22, I would be doing good to remember what I was supposed to do on the hour, every hour.

The second problem many people have with electrolyte caps is that they become very difficult to swallow late in a race. Most of us have no problem early in a race swallowing capsules. Throw one on your tongue and take a big drink of water and it’s gone. Now, fast forward 15 or 20 hours into a race. If you do remember that you need to take a salt cap, you put it on your tongue, take a big drink of water and capsule goes nowhere or worse, it causes you to gag and you spit it out. Once I get to the “can’t swallow a cap” stage, that’s it for the “salt caps,” I have to get electrolytes some other way or not at all. Without electrolytes your body does not absorb water very quickly so the water you drink starts sloshing around in your stomach. “Nausea!”

Several years ago, NUUN came up with a tablet you just drop into 16 oz. of water and your electrolyte mix is perfect. As you drink your water/NUUN tablet mix, you get exactly the right amount of electrolytes. This sounds simple and works great in training runs. (By the way, training runs, especially those very long training runs, are where you sort out your ultrarunning plans. It’s where you find out what works and what doesn’t, what you like or don’t like and what you can eat and what you cannot eat. Then you go to an ultra and realize what worked great in training runs really doesn’t work in an ultra. On to plan “X” or “Y.”) For me, the NUUN tablets worked great in training runs and short races. Then I tried them at the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 in July 2011. Mid-afternoon, 9 or 10 hours into the race, I started feeling sick at my stomach. I realized the ratio of NUUN mix was way too strong. It tasted awful. I poured the mix out before the next aid station and started over with the correct ratio.

Sometime around 9 or 10 PM, 15 or 16 hours into the race, I stared feeling sick again. This time my mind was somewhat dysfunctional and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I ended up having to walk most of the night. Just before arriving at the Bull Wheel Aid Station on top of Diamond Hill Ski Resort about mile 71 I finally figured out the problem. Once again the NUUN tablet ration was way off. I had walked for 6 or 7 hours before I realized why I felt so bad.

The reason I was having trouble keeping the ratio correct was because I was wearing a hydration pack with a water bladder in the pack. It was difficult to determine exactly how much water was adding at the aid stations. Basically I was just guessing. At night, it’s even harder to judge the amount of water added. Each time I added water I would throw in the correct amount of additional NUUN tablets, per my “guess.” With each aid station stop the mixture became a little stronger. The change was so subtle I never noticed it until the water became undrinkable. Too much salt is just a bad as not enough salt. They both make you sick. I dumped the water out of my Hydration Pack and filled it with straight water and took salt tablets the rest of the race with no problems what so ever.

 Marlette Lake and Lake Tahoe from the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Course

Just one of many snow fields along the crest of the Tahoe Rim Trail.

I don’t like to waste water at aid stations because in all remote aid stations water has to be carried in, or in some cases filtered from streams or collected from springs. In some extreme cases, such as Kroger’s Canteen in Hardrock, snow must be melted and sometimes carried up the mountain several miles. At these aid situations, water is a valuable commodity not to be wasted. To use NUUN Tablets I would have to find a way of accurately measuring the water added. It was simpler just to carry salt caps and remember to take them.

Until about 6 months ago I continued to use nothing but Electrolyte caps and an energy drink mix. Then, in the Pinhoti 100 this year, by sunset, I was no longer able to swallow electrolyte capsules and things went downhill quickly. I decided it was time to find something new.

Several people had told me about a new product called Tailwind. It is a drink mix that combines carbohydrates, electrolytes, and since you mix it in water, hydration all in one product. I decided to give it a try during my training runs for the Lookout Mountain 50 Mile in December. The stuff worked great. I ran Lookout Mountain consuming nothing but Tailwind and finished over an hour faster than the previous year with absolutely no stomach issues and I felt strong to the end. I have used Tailwind in two other trail races this year, Mountain Mist 50K and the Grand Viduta Stage Race, (a three day race) plus the Mercedes Marathon, also this year with great results. Yes, I carry a water bottle even in road races. I only had to slow down for water at aid stations three or four times in the entire Mercedes Marathon. I like to drink a little when I am thirsty, not just when I am passing through an aid station.

Tailwind is available in large, multi-serving packs on the left and in individual serving sizes, on the right. The small size is a great way to find out what flavors you like. Read more about Tailwind at Give it a try, even in a road race.

There is still the issue of the mixing the correct water/powder ratio. Running with hand held water bottles or the correct hydration pack can solve that problem. With the ever increasing popularity of ultrarunning, more and more companies are focusing on new products for Ultra runners. Two of those new products are shown below. On the left is one of several new hydration packs introduced by Salomon over the last couple of years. On the right is one of the new packs produced by Ultimate Direction. These packs have two bottle holders on the front and these particular packs have room of a hydration bladder in the back compartment. That extra water could come in handy for very long training runs or if you are running a race with long stretches between aid stations, especially if it will be hot. I discarded the small, blue collapsible Salomon bottles and use my Ultimate Direction 20 oz. bottles for both packs. It’s easy to mix Tailwind in a bottle and keep the ratio correct. These packs are both light and comfortable and the Salomon pack even comes with a “heat shield” to keep the water from making you cold in cold weather or to keep you from making the water hot in hot weather. (That’s a smart heat shield!)

                    The Ultimate Direction Pack                                   The Salomon Pack   

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How to be an Ultra Runner

I just couldn't resist posting this video. "How to be an Ultra Runner" by TrailAndUltra
Forget the Blog, this is all you need to know.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tranquility Lake 50K

No Tranquility in Hotly Contested Series

This article just came out in the March issue of Ultrarunning Magazine.
Perfect Day, Awesome Runners, The Best Volunteers on Earth, It just doesn’t get Any Better!
Beautiful Picture of Tranquility Lake by Olivia Affuso
We could not have asked for better conditions for the final race in the 2014 Southeastern Trial Series.
Temperatures were in the mid-40s at the start with beautiful clear skies all day.
Over 150 runners toed the line November 22nd for the 7:00 AM start at 10,000 acre Oak Mountain State Park, in Pelham, Alabama, just south of Birmingham. Most people think of Alabama as rather flat, that is, unless have run trails in the area. Located just at the tip of southwest tip of Appalachian Mountains, our hills may not be very tall, (Double Oak Mountain, which runs the length of Oak Mountain State Park, rises only a little over 600 feet above the surrounding terrain) but what it lack in size, it makes up for in shear ruggedness. Tranquility Lake 50K is actually two races, a 25K, one loop of the 15.6 mile course and the 50K, two loops.  The 50K course had 4,390 ft. of elevation gain and is 93% single track trails with only about 2 miles of gravel roads closed to cars.

The run starts with a spectacular but very short climb up the trail along the spillway of Tranquility Lake to the top of the Dam.  From there, runners follow the western shoreline for about 1/3 mile before another short climb up to the old Boy Scout Camp, Camp Tranquility, now being restored. They follow the gravel road up another hill to the entrance of the camp before starting the very fast one mile descent to the first real climb, the Yellow/White Connector. This rugged trail climbs 600 ft. in about 3/4 of a mile. Runners then head southeast along the West Ridge Trail for three miles to the Aid Station at Peavine Falls Parking Lot. From there, the course follow the Blue Trail for about 5 miles along the East Ridge of Double Oak Mountain before dropping down to the North Trail head and a water only aid station. The West Ridge Trail and the Blue Trail offer spectacular views, especially the West Ridge, where you run along the ridgeline itself. It is not a good idea to spend too much time sightseeing while running up there. Sections are very rocky.
Tranquility Lake D
The descent to the North Trail Head is a bit tricky with a few steep sections and lots of loose rocks and roots. From the trail head, runners follow relatively docile trails with gentle climbs for the final 3 miles back to the Redbud Pavilion and the finish for the 25K. For 50K runners this is the location of the next aid station before heading back out on the second loop. Near the end of each loop runners circle the east side of Lake Tranquility called the Old Lake at Oak Mountain.

The Southeastern Trail Series is a series of 7 races in the Birmingham Area. The series starts in April with a 5K and 10K and builds throughout the year, culminating in the Tranquility Lake 50K. The series is designed to transform road runners to trail runners and help short distance runners finish their first ultra.  Runners earn points based on their time for each race run in the series. Going into the final race of the series, the 50K, the 3 lead women were separated by just two points. The lead four men were less than 10 points apart. This was going to be a very competitive race.

Donna Arrington came into the 50K leading the series by 0.783 points over Lisa Booher, our 2013 Southeastern Trail Series Points Champion. Vanessa Stroud was just 1.4 points behind Lisa. We knew this was going to be a race to the end. Donna and Vanessa had run the Pinhoti 100 just three weeks before giving Lisa a slight advantage and she took that advantage winning the Women’s race by almost 25 minutes (6:02:54) over second place Donna Arrington (6:27:21). Beverly Brower, of Jackson Mississippi, took third in 6:29:20 and Vanessa Stroud came in fourth at 6:49:54. Lisa is the 2014 Women’s Points Champion in the Southeastern Trail Series.
Left to Right, Vanessa, Lisa, Donna and Beverly
On the men’s side, John Brower of Jackson, Mississippi, took first in 4:47:59 and set a new course record. Second went to Douglas King of Marietta, Georgia in 4:58:19. Third place was taken by Todd Lytle of Mineola, Florida in 5:02:10. Two of the three men competing for the Southeastern Trail Series Championship, points leader, Suman Silwal and second place Mark Beggs, also ran the Pinhoti 100 three weeks earlier. The first of the points championship contenders to finish was Mark Beggs in 5:47:45. Logan Cook, third in the point’s championship, finished in 5:58:43.  Suman finished in 6:21:14 but his points lead was just too much for anyone to overcome.  He is our 2014 Points Champion for the second year in a row.
Left to Right, Logan, Suman and Mark
 For more information on the series and individual races, including the Lake Martin 100, check out our website,

By David Tosch, RD

Friday, February 27, 2015

2015 Lake Martin 100 & 50 Mile Endurance Run and 27 Mile Fun Run

The Lake Martin 100 is less than a month away. To make things fun this year, Karl Meltzer is running the 100. This will likely be his 36 victory in a 100.
I think we have the best looking, hand crafted buckle I have seen.
As many of you know, the Second Annual Lake Martin 100 Mile Endurance Run is March 21 and 22. This is one of the best "First 100's" in the United States. There is also a 50 Mile and a 27 Mile Fun Run. Both are perfect for your fist attempt at ultra distance. Although the course is hilly, the 100 has about 12,000 feet of elevation gain, the 50 has 6,000 ft and the 27 mile about 3,100, that is an average of only 120 feet per mile. The thing that makes this elevation gain manageable for everyone is that almost all of the hills are less than 100 feet. The course is made up of a bunch of small hills. That's pretty gentle by almost any standard in the southeast. Plus, there is nothing technical anywhere on the course.
If you would like to learn more, here is a link to the Lake Martin 100 Website.
If you are thinking about signing up, Register today or Saturday. All entry fees increase on March 1.
Register at

Another thing that  makes the course easy for a first time ultra runner is the layout of aid stations. First, there are only 2 aid stations, yet you will never go more than 8 miles away from the next aid station stops. You may ask, how can that be. Well, the course is laid out in the shape of a figure "8" with one additional loop. Where the loops meet, at the red dots on the diagram below, is where the aid stations are located. The dot on the left is the Cabin Aid Station and Start/Finish. The red dot on the right is Heaven Hill Aid Station.

The race starts at the red dot on the left, the Cabin Aid Station. Runners, in effect, go over the top of the middle "0" to the red dot on the right. (the first aid station stop, Heaven Hill 1) They then circle around the "0" on the right and back to the red dot on the right. (the second aid station stop, Heaven Hill 2) Runners will then circle around the bottom of the middle "0" to the dot on the left (Cabin Aid Station 1) then around the "0" on the left and back to the red dot. (Cabin Aid Station 2) Race planning is a snap, especially since the Cabin Aid Station allows you to have anything you want at the aid station. That is, you or your crew place you drop bags where you want them or leave them in your car near the Cabin. We don't have to handle your bags so if you want to haul in an ice chest, feel free! Your supplies are never very far and you don't have to figure out where in 18 aid stations to put a critical item, like headlamps. There is no need to time running and walking cycles. The hills will tell you exactly when to walk and when to run.

For your crew, the drive from the Cabin AS to Heaven Hill AS is only about 3 miles. You may also
go to the Willow Point Cutoff Trailhead at the far north end of the course, only about 6 miles from the Cabin. Crew may also go to the Wilson Road Trailhead at the South end of the course, just 3 miles south of the Cabin. Crew can potentially meet their runner 6 times per 25 mile lap. (Crew is not allowed into Heaven Hill AS but Adamson Road Trailhead is just a few 100 yards away from the AS on the course and you may meet your runner there)

The course follow the the lake shore and meandering creeks for miles. The trails are 100% single track, carriage paths and gravel roadways most of which do not allow cars. The only paved section is the first 300 yards from the Cabin Start to the Green Way and the Stables Loop Trail. Returning to and leaving the Cabin Aid Station you will be on a sidewalk for about 300 yards, but that's it.
Here is a link to a Video of the 2014 LM100 Preview Runs on YouTube.
Below are pictures from along the course:

Start of the Lake View Trail near the Stables

The Big Way Trail

A section of trail along the South Loop

Along the Lakeside Trail

View from the trail.

Another section on the South Loop

Morning mist on Lake Martin

The SpringHouse Restaurant at Russell Crossroads. Just down the road from the start.

The Stables at Russell Crossroads.
 The next series of pictures were taken at the Preview Runs on the course.
A section of trail along the Lake View Trail
The Big Way Trail headed for Adamson Rd. Trailhead.

The Green Way Trail. This is one of the limited access roadways for electric vehicles, runners/hikers, bikes and horses only.
The 2-Day Loop Trail above the lake shore.

Another shot along one of many creek crossings on the 2-Day Loop

This is the Cabin at Russell Crossroads, location of the Start and Finish and the Cabin Aid Station.