Thursday, July 10, 2008

Illinois Trail Ultra Grand Slam Working?

Is the first year of the Illinois Trail Ultra Grand Slam (iTUGS) working? I'm not sure what I expected for the first year. All I wanted to do was get four Illinois ultra races to join forces and produce a "Grand Slam" that would hopefully encourage runners to do all four events. Maybe the number of registered runners would go up for each race. And maybe Illinois would develop a reputation as a good ultramarathon state. We have completed the first two races (McNaughton Park & Clinton Lake) and currently have 24 "survivors" (list here) that are still eligible for the Slam. I suppose that's a good first year start. If we have 10 complete the whole Grand Slam I would be happy.

My real concern isn't the total number of Slam finishers, but the "buzz" and commitment that each of the individul races has toward the Trail Ultra Grand Slam. All agreed to be part of it and the only real requirement was to give me the race results and be willing to throw in some money for Slam prizes. I'd like each race to advertise the Slam on their registration forms, web sites, and at the start/finish of their events. That hasn't happened as much as I had hoped...yet. With two more races to go, I hope Rock Cut Hobo and Farmdale push the Grand Slam. As an RD myself, I understand all the pulls on an RD...and one extra "Grand Slam" thing to include just pulls you away from your specific race tasks. Maybe with time it'll be second nature to say "Yeah, my race is part of the Illinois Trail Ultra Grand Slam!" I always believe that three years is a good test to see if a race or idea catches on...guess that means I still have 2.5 years to go with this Slam idea.

Let me know if you have suggestions to improve the iTUGS. Advertising? Prizes? Different races? These are the current 4 Grand Slam races:
  • Clinton Lake 30-Mile Trail Run
  • McNaughton Park 50/100/150 Milers
  • Rock Cut Hobo 50K
  • Farmdale 33-Mile Trail Run
Other possible Illinois ultra races include Howl at the Moon 8-Hour, Riddle Run 28 Miler, McNabb Fat Ass 50K, DeTonty Iron Fist 50K, and Buffalo Trace 7-Day Stage Race. Others?


dirt_trail_runner said...

the slam is a great idea, but how are you grading the results? looks like it's purely on time and not taking in the distances ran at mcN. just curious.

Chris Ⓥ said...

The results are based on PLACING (not time) within the appropriate Male/Female division of each race. For McNaughton, the division also relates to distance (50/100/150). For instance, if you ran the 100 miler you are only compared to other females (or males) that finished the 100 miler.

shnog said...

I'd be more apt to do it if there was a 50K option for McNaughton.

Chris Ⓥ said...

I suppose 50 miles as the minimum at McN is a step up for most people. Clinton Lake sort of took the place of the 50K option at McN when Andy (the RD there) dropped the 50K and added the 150 miler. If he still had the 50K, I would not have started Clinton Lake. I've thought about having people do 4 of 5 races to finish the Slam. Not sure what the 5th race option would be--maybe Howl at the Moon? One of the Illinois Fat Asses?

shnog said...

I know Chicago has a 50K/50 mile lakefront ultra.

Chris Ⓥ said...

The problem with the Chicago Lake Front 50/50 is that it is on roads. This is the Illinois Trail Ultra Grand Slam. I need another trail ultra in Illinois. I'm worried about McNaughton Park too--the RD moved to Vermont and I can't imagine him RDing from that far away for too long. Andy will definitely keep it going in 2009, but not sure about 2010 and beyond. Maybe he'll hand it over to someone else in the Peoria/Pekin area. Unfortunately, that race was great BECAUSE of Andy. It wouldn't be the same without him. I'll cross my fingers and hope for the best. These ultra races (and Slams) are hard to keep going!