This is a great event that I will do again and encourage others to run next year!
And a short video from race day is on YouTube at:
The race is run on a 3.1 mile trail loop in Jubilee College State Park in central Illinois (in Brimfield just west of Peoria). Mike and Adam are the race directors--same guys that took over the Farmdale 32 mile race last year. They did a great job at Farmdale and an AWESOME job at this inaugural event! I can honestly say this is one of my favorite ultra races--and it was my 69th marathon/ultra so I have quite a comparison group. They created a great race atmosphere and attended to all the runner needs. Here are a few details that I particularly liked:
- Entire course was trail (no road sections)
- The last 45 minutes was 1-mile loops on tough trails (not easy grass fields)
- Chip timing was cool (no need to "check-in" each loop, splits posted)
- Nice home-made finisher awards
- Cute signs along parts of the course ("Good Nap Spot")
- Soy burgers for me at the end!
I'm starting to really like these timed events. Everyone finishes together so there is more camaraderie and more socializing. The RDs know exactly when everyone starts and finishes and thus can plan for awards, food, drink, etc. The repeated loops don't bother me--although they might if they were on a 400m track. On trails (even "Howl at the Moon" type trails) you get enough variety to keep things interesting. I suppose my favorite part of timed events is people passing me, and me passing others, all day. You get to see old friends, make new friends, and just cheer your fellow runners on. It's a good feeling. Howl at the Moon 8-Hour has been my favorite race (just signed up for my 10th), but this new sucker has great potential to become...dare I say it...my new all time favorite event?
I would highly recommend this event to others. There is a 4-person relay and solo division. I'm not a big fan of the relay folks, but with the event being small (total of about 80 runners with both solo and relays) it worked out OK this year. If the event becomes much bigger then I would really limit the number of relay runners.
Suggestions for the RDs:
- Provide different colored bibs to the relay teams to distinguish from the solo ultra runners
- Change the shirt to a short sleeve version (who wants long sleeves as we head into summer?)
- Add a race category for tall, skinny, bearded, former RDs--or at least add a master (over 40 years old) division!