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M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '19

BOTTOM LINE: Sometimes a marathon weekend just feels good from start to finish — marathons like Missoula and Jackson Hole spring to mind, and Fargo likewise is high on that … MORE

BOTTOM LINE: Sometimes a marathon weekend just feels good from start to finish — marathons like Missoula and Jackson Hole spring to mind, and Fargo likewise is high on that list. Which is a major reason this has become the go-to marathon in North Dakota for 50 States runners like me. With a tagline like “North of Normal,” the state’s largest city clearly embraces its cool and quirky vibe, and is an easy place to spend a memorable weekend. A word to the weather-wise, though: do come layered up and ready to withstand winter’s last gasp — even in mid-May, with most states happily transitioning to hay fever season, Fargo (and its adjacent sister city Moorhead, MN) greeted us with wind, rain and temperatures in the mid-40s. That said, for race director Mark Knutson and his team this clearly wasn’t their first rodeo, and the race’s start & finish inside the Fargodome on the NDSU campus was a stroke of genius. Because on a race day when Mother Nature was in foul temper, truly there was no place like Dome.

Outside of race activities, three examples of Fargo’s quirky charm that await your discovery: 1) As you drive around town, keep an eye out for the 15 or so full-size, painted fiberglass bison that adorn the city; these were commissioned for the 2005 art project Herd About The Prairie: A Virtual Art Stampede and were first unveiled at the 2006 marathon (see uploaded collage); 2) For fans of the 1996 eponymous Oscar-winning movie by the Coen Brothers, the actual woodchipper used in the film is on display in the Fargo–Moorhead Visitors Center; 3) As you might expect in a college town where winter tends to usurp much of spring and autumn, Fargo features an impressive microbrewery scene, and I can personally recommend the friendly confines of the Drekker Brewing Company where we met RaceRaves member John P. after the race. John is a pro when it comes to (in his words) “post-race pain management,” so if you’re a 50 Stater or traveling runner who’s always looking for the best places across the country to grab a post-race beer, follow @slowjuan and check out his reviews on RaceRaves.

If you have limited travel opportunities, I can certainly see why you’d prioritize Hawaii, California or even Montana over North Dakota. But if you’re a traveling runner intent on exploring and experiencing the United States in all its color and flavor, then I can’t recommend Fargo enough, dontcha know.

A note on travel: as Southwest Airlines devotees we flew into the closest hub, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), on Thursday (for a Saturday race) and drove the 250 miles across Minnesota to Fargo, a wide-open drive that featured greenery galore plus a whole lot of farmland and several of the state’s celebrated 10,000+ lakes.

PRODUCTION: Note to race directors: you’ll go far with production like Fargo’s. As mentioned above, Executive Director Mark Knutson clearly knows what he’s doing, having launched the marathon in 2005 and helmed numerous other events in addition. The prerace expo, with vendor booths uniquely situated on the concourse of the Fargodome, was thoughtfully designed and easily navigated, highlighted by a surprisingly interesting session with guest speakers Cindy Lewandowski and Scott Jansky, the winners of the inaugural 2005 Fargo Marathon. Each was returning to the Fargo Marathon for the first time, and they talked about their lives post-Fargo, with Cindy having gone on to complete a marathon in all 50 states.

Aid stations along the course featured signs to distinguish water from Powerade. And though this detail may seem small, veteran runners will appreciate its significance — during a marathon, the brain goes into standby mode as glucose is shunted to the muscles where it’s needed, so any visual cue a race director can provide to take the onus of decision-making off the runners will be advantageous and much appreciated. No runner likes having to waste time and energy at an aid station sorting out which drink is which with a well-meaning but frazzled volunteer, and especially if all drinks are served in the same nondescript white Dixie cup (though as I write this now during the COVID-19 pandemic, individual cups served by volunteers may soon be a thing of the past). And another example of Fargo’s keen attention to detail — for all those runners inevitably staring down at their shoe tops late in the race, the mile markers were noted in white paint on the street. So unless you were running with your eyes closed (in which case you had bigger problems than losing track of distance), you couldn’t miss them. Together with smart touches like these, starting and finishing inside the Fargodome may have been the wild card that earns Fargo a 5-shoe rating.

One hint for getting to the Fargodome on race morning: traffic on I–29 leading into the dome was a mess, with a long line to exit the highway. If you come from a big city or somewhere like SoCal where highway driving can sometimes feel like one of the desert chase scenes from “Mad Max: Fury Road,” you’ll quickly recognize that Fargo drivers (like their non-driving counterparts) are incredibly nice people, and that hypothetically speaking you could potentially save yourself a ton of time by bypassing them all and then quickly merging back into the slow-moving line closer to the exit. I’d never be the one to condone such behavior, much less recommend it, but I’m just saying in theory it’s possible.

SWAG: Definitely among the best I’ve received, including a sturdy orange drawstring bag with two zippered pockets, as well as what’s quickly become one of my two favorite hoodies — an attractive offering with denim-blue sleeves/hood and gray torso emblazoned with the colorful Fargo Marathon logo (on that note, I’d urge other RDs looking for quality race swag to take a close look at CI Apparel in Fargo). The finisher medal, always the true object of my swag affection, is colorful (maybe too colorful) and hefty enough to cause a neck cramp, though the medal’s muddled collage imagery is a bit busy for my taste, as though the designer were considering a number of candidate images and ultimately decided to include them all. On the back of the medal, a Fargo tradition as I understand it, is engraved a relevant Bible verse familiar to many runners: “Let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1. And finally, rounding out Fargo’s top-notch swag was a race poster featuring the same imagery as the medal. All in all, marathon #40 in state #27 was a runaway success, and between Fargo and my 2011 experience at Crazy Horse, I’m almost willing to concede the value of having two Dakotas. Almost.

For a full rundown of Fargo Marathon weekend, check out my blog recap at https://bit.ly/2LvWwnb

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5
My Media

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deantuinstra REPEAT RUNNER '16

Very flat, very fast. I've ran this marathon 4 years in a row, and am getting ready to go back for a 5th year in a row. I've gotten a … MORE

Very flat, very fast. I’ve ran this marathon 4 years in a row, and am getting ready to go back for a 5th year in a row. I’ve gotten a new Masters PR every time I run it. I’ve BQ’ed the last 3 times I’ve run it. The weather is cool, but never too cold. It hasn’t gotten too hot, finish temps are usually low 60’s. It’s the best supported marathon I’ve run, with aid stations every mile. It’s small, but that means no long bathroom lines, and I was able to park about 50 yards from the start/finish line. It’s wide open, out in the country, so the air is clean and fresh. I didn’t think I would like the double out-and-back course, but now I LOVE it. We get to see all the other runners in the race, several times. Going back out on the course after the 13.1 turn around can be mentally tough, but that does’t last long when you see the other runners. Once you get to the 19.5 mile turn around, all you have to do is get home, and that doesn’t seem too daunting. And you get a nice gradual downslope at 23 miles, when your legs are killing, and by that time you can see the town, and know the finish is very close. At the finish line, it’s all you can eat pancakes and sausage!

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5
My Media

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M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '17

BOTTOM LINE: It’s no hyperbole to say Missoula is the perfect small-town marathon. But you don’t need me to tell you that – it’s one of the most highly rated … MORE

BOTTOM LINE: It’s no hyperbole to say Missoula is the perfect small-town marathon. But you don’t need me to tell you that – it’s one of the most highly rated events on RaceRaves. Tony Banovich and his team let the peaceful rural beauty of the point-to-point course and the friendliness of the locals speak for themselves, and both speak loudly. As you might guess, you won’t get mile after mile of blasting music or screaming spectators (thankfully), but you will get a wildly rewarding marathon experience that, Halfway Hill and potential July heat aside, makes you wish you could bottle Big Sky Country and take it with you. And lucky you if you live here.

Unlike other expensive events that “entertain” their runners on race day with blaring music, colorful distractions and contrived bells and whistles, Missoula feels entirely authentic. And delightful touches like a piano player on a front lawn at mile 17 only add to its charm. Missoula is a spot-on race to include in your summer vacation plans, with Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park to the southwest and Glacier National Park to the north. Though if you do opt for a racecation, do your legs a favor and run the race first — several days spent hiking in the Big Sky heat and at Big Sky altitude beforehand will wear you down, and the ultimate victim will be your legs on race day. Somewhere around mile 18. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

PRODUCTION: In a word, elk-cellent. The Run Wild Missoula team are clearly pros — from the regular prerace email updates (particularly important when the weather forecast threatens triple digits), to enabling expo latecomers to pick up their bib numbers hassle-free at the Missoula airport, to the low-key start-line fireworks in Frenchtown, to the well-labeled aid stations, to the motivational signs posted along the course in the later miles (when I very much wanted to call it a day), to the awesome post-race spread and Big Sky Brewing tent.

Case in point, I didn’t realize until Saturday afternoon — entirely my fault — that I wasn’t going to be able to reach the expo before it closed, so I sent an email asking if I might be able to pick up my bib number at the airport that evening. Soon after, I received a very friendly and personalized “Welcome to Missoula!” email that went on to say, “We are happy to provide you with the opportunity to pick up your packet late!” The whole process was quick and easy, with Missoula Marathon banners greeting us at the airport. I’ve never received better customer service from a race.

(That said, I would suggest extending expo hours until 6:00pm, since a 4:00pm closing time for a one-day expo seems a bit early.)

Seeing all the sprinklers, hoses and squirt guns mobilized for our benefit, it felt like the entire town of Missoula had prepared and shown up for its hometown race. The town clearly takes pride in its marathon, and as a visiting runner there’s no better feeling. Because you can’t fake that — coming from Los Angeles, I know the disappointment of having an A+ race play to apathetic locals. Like Louisiana in January, this is a race organized first and foremost with the runners in mind. Race Director Tony B. seemed very relaxed (despite fighting a cold) when we saw him moments before the race, which is unusual for an RD, and I was reminded of what Peyton Manning once said: “Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.” Clearly Tony and his team know what they’re doing.

(And if you decide to run Missoula based on anything I’ve said, tell ‘em Mike and Katie from RaceRaves sent you!)

SWAG: I’m not that guy who proudly displays his bib numbers, but the Missoula bib stands out since it’s shaped like the state of Montana — another of the small but cool details at which this race excels. But while I’m not a bib guy, I’m definitely a medal guy, and this year’s Missoula medal is a classic reminder of a first-class event. Suspended from an eye-catching orange ribbon, it’s a hefty piece of bronze hardware emblazoned with the race logo — not always a good thing for races, unless your logo happens to feature a silhouette of an elk with shoes dangling from its antlers on a backdrop of mountains. Then you show it off whenever you can. Likewise the race tee is a keeper that promises to become a regular in my rotation, white with attractive orange lettering and stitching.

Free finish-line photos were provided to all runners courtesy of Gameface Media, though unlike last year no photographer was positioned on the opposite side of Maclay Bridge, maybe the best vantage point for photos along the course. And Referee Photo was set up at the post-race festival to print glossy hard copies of your triumphant finisher’s photo at no charge. First time I’ve encountered that, and one more “surprise and delight” moment in a weekend full of them.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4
My Media

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M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '21

BOTTOM LINE: You never forget your first, and especially when your first happens to be 100 km (62.2 miles) in one of the most beautiful destinations on the planet. Held along … MORE

BOTTOM LINE: You never forget your first, and especially when your first happens to be 100 km (62.2 miles) in one of the most beautiful destinations on the planet. Held along the Denali Highway, a wild and mostly unpaved stretch of 135 miles I’d immediately fallen in love with during my first visit to Alaska 15 years earlier, the Denali 100K is a bucket-list, back-to-nature adventure created for the intrepid ultrarunner. Though theoretically speaking I’d long been intrigued by the 100K as a “triple digit” challenge, it would take a special opportunity to make me commit to the distance—and the inaugural Denali 100K was just what this doctor ordered. The day I first learned of the event, it was as though someone had read my mind.

Run on the summer solstice (meaning I finished at 2:30am AKDT under relatively bright skies), the race starts at the Alpine Creek Lodge near the midpoint of the iconic Denali Highway and finishes, without a single turn, near the highway’s endpoint in Cantwell. The largely unpaved highway opened in 1957 as the lone road leading to Denali National Park. (For true masochists, the race also offers a 135-mile distance that runs the full length of the highway.) The terrain is highly consistent crushed gravel that’s ideal for running. And though the Denali Highway wouldn’t be considered “hilly” per se by trail running standards (and the route is, in fact, a net downhill), it definitely rolls from start to finish. As my fatigue mounted, I was able to establish a time-efficient rhythm of speed-hiking the ups while running the downs and flats, a strategy that minimized my exhaustion in the second half.

The Denali 100K is an untamed dichotomy of tranquil solitude on the one hand and unnerving vulnerability on the other. Because when you say “Alaska,” most people envision vast wilderness and the megafauna that call it home. Though I didn’t see any large mammals myself on race day (not such a bad thing when you’re alone for 12+ hours on foot without bear spray), other runners and their crews reported sightings of two grizzly sows and a cub, six moose cows and two calves, four foxes, and three porcupines including a baby. And on the topic of safety: given the remote nature of the course and the lack of cell service along the Denali Highway, each runner carried a SPOT tracker equipped with an SOS button throughout the race, which was used to track our GPS coordinates. Likewise, every runner’s crew carried a satellite phone which enabled them, if needed, to contact Race Director Sean or anyone else during the race.

A note regarding the race name: on a clear day the stately snow-covered peak of Denali itself, the tallest mountain in the United States at 20,310 ft, is visible as you approach the Cantwell end of the Denali Highway. Clear days in Cantwell, however, are hit or miss to say the least, so if it’s a Denali sighting you crave (and what Alaskan visitor doesn’t?), I’d recommend you make the short-but-scenic detour to the village of Talkeetna on the drive to or from Anchorage. There, your best bet for seeing The Great One is from the viewing deck of the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (see accompanying photo).

In essence, I can say without hyperbole that the Denali 100K is the reason I run, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. To call this a “race” almost doesn’t do the day justice—this is a soul-cleansing experience not only for veteran ultrarunners but for any lover of the outdoors who’s looking for the perfect inspiration to challenge themselves and tackle their first 100K. And it’s the ultimate destination race for an increasingly stressed-out world.

PRODUCTION: Race Director Sean Tracy, his partner and co-RD Holly, and their daughter Emilia (in whose young brain the idea for the Denali 100K originated) are amazing people who make an amazing team. Sean is a “big ideas” guy with the perfect temperament for a race director, while Holly is his detail-oriented right-hand woman who makes things happen. As with every event these past two years, the inaugural race (which was originally scheduled for July 2020) rode the emotional roller coaster of “yes, it will” and “no, it won’t,” and Sean did a terrific job of setting expectations and keeping us updated. For more background on the race and the man himself, I’d recommend you read “The Road to Denali” in the May/June 2021 issue of Ultrarunning Magazine. It lays out Sean’s story—including his becoming the first and only person to travel ~3,700 miles from Badwater to Denali Base Camp under his own power—and what compelled him to stage a 135-mile/100K foot race in the heart of wild Alaska. Most of all, I’d suggest you register to run the Denali 100K and discover for yourself why Sean and his family are exactly the type of thoughtful, caring and creative individuals you’ll be proud to call friends long after you cross his understated finish line.

Sean’s pre-race communication—which actually spanned 15 months from March 2020 when I first registered, to June 2021 when the race finally happened—was personable yet professional (much like Sean himself) and a treasure trove of useful information re: what to expect on race day and how to plan the rest of your Alaskan vacation. His enthusiastic yet comforting words reassured me that I wasn’t making an egregious error in judgment by jumping feet first into this inaugural event in one of the wildest places on earth. And he went out of his way to give credit to his runners and call out their accomplishments, including a heartfelt “get well” shout-out to one long-time ultrarunner who couldn’t join us this year after recent open-heart surgery. Sean’s was the rare pre-race communication I look forward to seeing in my Inbox.

Race weekend culminated in a beautiful evening and an excellent post-race buffet at the McKinley Creekside Cabins, our post-race accommodations located 15 minutes from the finish-line end of the Denali Highway. There we enjoyed grilled salmon, chili-lime tofu, coconut rice, plus salads, desserts and drinks while chatting and comparing notes with fellow finishers, and Sean presented a check to an appreciative representative from this year’s race beneficiary, the Denali Education Center. It was a fitting conclusion to an epic weekend.

Sean and Holly expended an enormous amount of effort to maximize their runners’ chances of success on race day. This included Sean running the entire 135-mile course himself during the initial planning stages because, as Holly told us, he won’t ask others to run a course unless he’s first run it himself. The end result is a testament to their dedication and their desire to give the ultrarunning community a special event. And it’s tough to say they didn’t succeed with flying colors—the Denali 100K is an event you won’t soon forget.

One important detail to note ahead of time: the Denali 100K is a self-supported, BYOC (Bring Your Own Crew) event. There are neither official aid stations nor so much as a convenience store along the remote route, and very few vehicles—aside from Sean or the other runners’ crews—drive the highway. So you’ll want to come prepared with your own crew and everything you need on race day. For this reason, Katie and I reserved a Jeep and an oversized cooler in Anchorage, then stopped for supplies before making the drive to Cantwell and the Alpine Creek Lodge where we stayed before the race. On that note, sports nutritionist Sunny Blende was spot-on when she said, “Ultras are just eating and drinking contests, with a little exercise and scenery thrown in.” Nailing my nutritional strategy was the single most important factor in keeping my performance consistent and reaching the finish line faster than I’d thought possible. If you’re going to run this or any other 100K, and assuming you’re trained up for the challenge, race-day nutrition is your key to success.

SWAG: Truth is, I doubt that anyone running 100K in wild Alaska does so for the swag. That said, I wear my Denali 100K finisher tee proudly, while the real keepsake is the finisher buckle made from shed moose antlers (i.e. bone) and hand-sanded by Sean himself. Adorned with the race’s namesake peak, the ivory beauty easily earns a spot in my top five favorite finisher awards and now hangs in my home from an Alaska lanyard purchased at a roadside souvenir store.

As you can probably tell, I have a lot more to say about the Denali 100K, and it all gets said (including logistics, recommended gear & more) in the accompanying blog report. I hope you’ll check it out at https://bit.ly/3N7OpuR.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5
My Media

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M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '21

BOTTOM LINE: Named for a local real estate agency and its eponymous foundation dedicated to helping low-income & homeless families, Windermere is a relaxed, picturesque marathon that will be even better … MORE

BOTTOM LINE: Named for a local real estate agency and its eponymous foundation dedicated to helping low-income & homeless families, Windermere is a relaxed, picturesque marathon that will be even better in the post- (as it was in the pre-)Covid era. This is largely because 2022 is expected to welcome the return of the original point-to-point course, which includes 11-ish miles of this year’s route plus Gonzaga University and a festive finish near Riverfront Park (in contrast to this year’s necessarily low-key start & finish in the parking lot of the Windermere offices in Spokane Valley). That said, this year the Negative Split team did a terrific job turning gators into Gatorade with a pleasant, well-supported event that consisted of two out-and-backs on the paved Centennial Trail along the Spokane River. I’m typically no fan of out-and-backs, and especially in the later miles when you can clearly see the fatigue on the faces and in the body language of your fellow runners who are several miles ahead of you. Unfortunately, a global pandemic tends to limit your options as a runner or race director. And the river is a beautiful centerpiece for the race, even if the non-river side of the course doesn’t always live up to the same scenic standard.

Spokane itself is a charming city with two main highlights for the weekend tourist: Gonzaga University, a small Jesuit university that’s paradoxically home to one of the premier men’s college basketball programs of the past 25 years, and Riverfront Park, which is the legacy of the 1974 World’s Fair and the focal point of downtown Spokane. Riverfront Park feels like a more sprawling version of Tulsa’s Gathering Place but with a nicer river frequented by gaggles of elegant Canada geese. And while the park is the emerald jewel of the city, its beating heart is mighty Spokane Falls, whose power has been harnessed to generate electricity for well over a century. One of the joys of racing in Washington is that many (if not most) of the state’s marathons & half marathons run within view of an impressive body of water, and Windermere’s course alongside the fast-flowing Spokane River is no exception.

PRODUCTION: Windermere (along with Negative Split’s other marathon in nearby Coeur d’Alene) was one of the few marathons held in the U.S. in 2020, albeit with significant changes, and it was clear from this year’s production that this was not the team’s first pandemic rodeo. From the quick & easy outdoor packet pickup at the local Fleet Feet store (finisher medal included) to the rolling start line to the scaled-back post-race gathering, race weekend was seamless if subdued. The entire process gave me a renewed appreciation—and frustration—for the fact that given the chance to implement similar Covid mitigation strategies based on the science of viral transmission, more events could have safely and responsibly moved forward with reduced field sizes last year.

Out-and-back courses typically aren’t my jam, but this year it couldn’t be helped, and more than anything I think most of us were grateful for the chance to be healthy and racing again. The DIY aid stations were an afterthought for me since I only paused at the mile 8 turnaround to grab a bottle of water, but Race Director Ryan did pass me on a bike in the later (warmer) miles asking if I needed water, Gatorade or anything else, so a shout-out of gratitude to him. More than anything, I appreciated that mile markers were taped to the trail throughout the race, and especially in the closing miles when mentally I celebrate every mile marker as a mini-finish line. Plus, race photos were free, though for whatever reason no photos of me were available—not a big deal since Katie captured plenty along the course.

SWAG: The multi-blue finisher medal is brightly colored and nice enough, though as one-third of a three-piece interlocking medal for runners of Negative Split’s Run the PNW Series (comprising Windermere, The Split Half Marathon and Coeur d’Alene), it’s wedge-shaped and visually less satisfying than a comparable standalone medal. That said, I can imagine the three-piece medal in its entirety would be a lovely keepsake. Fortunately, the long-sleeve black tech shirt is a keeper—I know some folks aren’t fans of black and especially during the summer months, but having grown up an unabashed fan of heavy metal music, for better or worse I still have a soft spot for black clothing, even as my closet steadily fills with race apparel.

For more insights on Windermere specifically and Spokane in general, check out my blog report at https://blisterscrampsheaves.com/2021/09/06/windermere-marathon-race-report/

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4
My Media

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Andrea FIRST-TIMER '19

Do not let the articles in the magazines scare you (they say one of toughest races). It was very doable. Rolling hills, can only remember one big one. The water … MORE

Do not let the articles in the magazines scare you (they say one of toughest races). It was very doable. Rolling hills, can only remember one big one.
The water stops (if you can call them that) were awesome. They were more like snack breaks, potty breaks, meet some fun locals break. And there were lots of them. One stop ever took pictures of every running and posted to Facebook. So far it is my favorite picture from the race!
It was very organized and everyone was very nice. Ate lunch at a restaurant at the finish line after the race. Did not have to wait for a table!! Very good food!!
Can’t wait to go back and do it again!!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5
My Media

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jdhunt FIRST-TIMER '20

Monument Marathon is a small race that packs a punch! The course was really quite enjoyable, starting out with a big 2 mile downhill run from the Wildcat Hills State … MORE

Monument Marathon is a small race that packs a punch! The course was really quite enjoyable, starting out with a big 2 mile downhill run from the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area (some nice views here!). After that big downhill, you get flat country roads with some rolling hills and scenic view of buttes and bluffs. Lots of people think of flat cornfields when they think of Nebraska (sure was some of that), but there is a quiet beauty in this part of the country, particularly running close to and within Scotts Bluff National Monument. The park is like the badlands of western Nebraska and was a prominent landmark on the Oregon Trail. I personally found the course itself to be easy, although the race was hard this year because of things outside of the organizers control (wind!!!! and lower air quality due to wildfires in Colorado and Wyoming).

One thing that really stuck out for me was the enthusiastic support for the race by the local community. Of course there there aren’t a lot of spectators in a small race like this, but the volunteers and spectators who were out there were extremely friendly and enthusiastic! I was thanked for being out there running by more than a few people – it was I who should be thanking them! I really appreciated their enthusiasm and appreciation!

Not a ton of swag from this race, but I frankly don’t need any of that after racing more than a few races. These days, the only thing I really want from a race that I haven’t done is the medal – and it was a nice hefty one shaped like Nebraska with a graphic of runners and the bluffs. Overall, Monument Marathon was a great race and I definitely recommend it for a Nebraska race for those who like some nice scenery and great supporters!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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mikeyseymour REPEAT RUNNER '16

This was my first ultra. What a fun race. This whole weekend was a blast. There are so many different races one can do. You can run with your little … MORE

This was my first ultra. What a fun race. This whole weekend was a blast. There are so many different races one can do. You can run with your little kids, your dog, shorter runs, or longer runs. I did the 50K and thoroughly enjoyed it. Part of the run is in the forest and the other part is through a farm. The changing scenery is nice since you’re running for so long. The forest part gives you a nice break from the sun. The race director is friendly and accessible. Four of us wanted to start the 50K race at the same time as the 50M (the 50K start time was 2 hours later). Even though it was not convenient for the director, he happily accommodated us. The aid stations are great. I brought a lot of food, but didn’t need it. You can stay fueled entirely on what is at the aid stations. The course itself is constant hills. When I say constant, I mean it literally. There is barely any flat ground on the course. That being said, none of the hills are particularly steep so the varied terrain ensures different muscle groups are worked. We walked all the up hills and ran the rest.

The post race festivities were fun. It’s in a grassy area with lots of tables and benches. The food is great, there is music, and a great time all around. This is a great event to bring the entire family to. I thoroughly enjoyed my run here!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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Lorelei FIRST-TIMER '18

This race has three distance options: 50K, 50M, and 100M. There is also a 100M relay. I ran the 50K. There are a lot of neat things about this race. … MORE

This race has three distance options: 50K, 50M, and 100M. There is also a 100M relay. I ran the 50K.

There are a lot of neat things about this race. First, it is a point to point, rather than a loop. The 50K is entirely along the canal and it starts at 5pm which means this is mostly a night race. This means you have to soak in the visual beauty in the few hours of daylight you have; then you listen to nature’s beauty the rest of the night. The canal is extremely dark. While we had headlamps, you can’t see much outside the boundary of your light. Periodically, I would turn off my lamp and just stare up at the stars. I heard at least two species of owls for many miles. I dodged frogs leaping across the trail. It’s truly a sensory experience unlike any other.

Also, the 50K has an 18 hour cut-off. 18 HOURS!!!!!! Seriously, you can’t not finish this. This makes it great for a first time ultra runner. Speaking of which, they give ultra-virgin shirts to those who finish their first ultra here.

The aid stations are 10K apart, give or take. Though the last is only 5K away from the previous station and 1.7 miles from the finish. Only every 2 or 3 have potties. Every aid station has great, enthusiastic volunteers. Racers can prepare drop bags to be had at specific stations. Very handy so you don’t have to lug all your stuff around. They will then take your bags to the finish line. The selection of food and beverage was amazing and plentiful. There were pizza stations. There was a pancake and sausage station. And a bunch of others….including a Jim Beam station – gasp!

The course itself is crushed limestone which can be tricky to navigate. Beware the black walnut “tennis balls”, acorns and other ankle twisters. Otherwise, it is wide and it was not at all muddy even though it had been flooded the night before.

The swag was tops! The tech shirt was Star Wars inspired. I even got a headsweats hat in my swag bag. What a surprise! A very nice custom water bottle and your choice of stickers. The merch was nice, too. I bought a headsweats tank top. As for awards, 100M finishers get a huge buckle and a plaid button-down finisher shirt. 50M get a smaller buckle. 50K get a keychain. Each distance has its own medal.

There were 400 registered for this race. I thought that was just the right size. I met new friends, including a fellow Raving Lunatic, Tim. A FELLOW RAVING LUNATIC! How great is that?!?! Proof positive that this is a worthy race.

Logistics is easy. There are plenty of hotels. Plenty of parking.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5
My Media

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Atlanta15 FIRST-TIMER '16

First a few disclaimers: 1) I won entry to this race through RaceRaves 2) This was my first trail race 3) This was my first race at a higher altitude … MORE

First a few disclaimers:
1) I won entry to this race through RaceRaves
2) This was my first trail race
3) This was my first race at a higher altitude
4) I did the Bison Double (5k Friday night, 1/2 Saturday morning)

Now all of that is out of the way, WOW what a challenge! I flew into Jackson Hole on Thursday and drove through the southern entrance of Yellowstone over to West Yellowstone were I was staying. The packet pick up was a breeze on Friday and the expo though small was informative and fun. The NPS had a ranger there explaining what to do should you encounter a bear or other wildlife as well as real displays of bears, bear claws and other wildlife. Vacation Races had a fire pit for roasting marshmallows and hammocks for relaxing or for family and friends to hangout and wait for you during your race.

The plan was to use the 5k to preview the first 2 and last mile of the 1/2 and see how I would react to the altitude. Starting out it was in tight quarters with other runners and a bit crowded for the first mile. The course was on crushed gravel and fine dirt and then at the first turn I found myself running down into a short “ditch” with rocks and then on grass with tire ruts to each side along with holes and rocks. The last mile was on hard packed dirt and crushed rocks. I did find myself with a little concern about the half the next morning because of the technical nature at the start of this race but I enjoyed the challenge and had no issues with the altitude. I felt good about my time given the tight quarters and technical nature of the course.

RACE DAY! What a cool and beautiful start to the day. I arrived to the race area by 6 am in time to enter my bib number for the first prize raffle. Vacation Races works with their sponsor vendors as well as local vendors to give away prizes prior to the start of the race. Because I arrived early I took the extra time to mill around talk to a few folks, mentally prepare for the run and hydrate. I began to question my sanity when I saw the park rangers on dirt bikes prior to the race. Their function was to go out before the runners and spook the wildlife (bear, bison and elk). Yep, that is when I had a moment of oh crap what have I signed up for but it quickly died down as the announcement came for everyone to start lining up in their respective time corral. Being this was a sold out race it was tight in between the barriers.

And we are off! Knowing what to expect with the terrain the first few miles I took it slow until we all had a chance to spread out from each other. That started to happen around mile 2 as the course was a bit flatter. At mile 5 I took my time at the water stop to enjoy the view at the bridge and prepare for the challenge of the HILL. The HILL – deceptively easy looking when you first see it. Don’t let it fool you! This is where I started to feel the altitude. My breathing became a bit more labored and my legs were heavy and harder to move. I made the decision to walk most of the hill and play it safe. From miles 6-8 it was a walking parade because most people as myself were feeling the effects of altitude. And you know what? That was ok. I ended up in a small group of 5 or 6 other people and we chatted and encouraged each other. We then found the second hill and let out a collective OMG. It was shorter and a bit steeper but were relieved to see downhill and started to run. Running turned into hopping and hopping became a fast hike. This was a technical downhill. Small rocks, big rocks, shallow ruts, ruts that will swallow you whole and don’t think that flat center line is any better as there are rocks and holes hidden in the grass. Getting back onto the flat crushed gravel road was an exciting moment as true running could take place. The run to the finish was more of a walk for some, a shuffle for many and a jog for others. I felt like I finished strong and had a great time. At every VR race you are given a food recovery box. This has several single serving sizes of different snacks for you to eat now or take with you on your adventure into the national park. There were a few folks who tripped/fell and were banged up and I did see one runner at around mile 11 vomiting on the side of the trail which was probably due to altitude sickness. I am usually a 2:56 1/2 runner and set a goal of 3:30 with this race due to altitude and technicality. I beat it at 3:22.

A few take aways and important details:
This is my second VR event with another this year. They are well executed, water stops are well supplied, great swag and fun. This is a TECHNICAL TRAIL race. It is beautiful but also keep in mind you are in the woods surrounded by trees and mother nature rules. Yes there are a few thousand runners but always be aware. Some runners did carry bear spray. HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE! You are running at altitude and if you are from a lower area this will help. I started 2 weeks prior to my trip. Several days prior I added 1 bottle of Skratch to my routine to ensure I was well hydrated. I also run with a vest and had a bottle of water and a bottle of Skratch. Know the signs of altitude sickness and do not ignore them. Sunscreen – again you are closer to the sun at this elevation and can burn fast. Take the time and do the challenges – our national park system is amazing and Yellowstone should be on your list.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5
My Media

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bobbijodmb FIRST-TIMER '16

I booked a trip to Hawaii; on Maui and then started looking for races; saw that there was a half marathon on Kona and said, why not! Here are the … MORE

I booked a trip to Hawaii; on Maui and then started looking for races; saw that there was a half marathon on Kona and said, why not!

Here are the positives I found about the race:
*Bucketlist~ a lot of this, was to experience a half in Hawaii and to do that was priceless and amazing
*Communication I felt like was decent- not the best that I have seen, but I felt like I had enough information.
*I really like the medals, they were cute
*I liked some of the scenery, but some of it was interesting running along the highway.
*Easy course
*was convenient and easy to get back and to the race start. Liked having packet pickup where we were staying.

Things that were alright or needed improvement:
*More water on the course due to the temperatures
*Starting earlier due to the heat; especially for the marathoners
*the shirts were ok, not bad, just nothing great
*The 5k and shorter races and the merging was a little hard at times
*the resort was really expensive (but then again, it is hawaii)

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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TBurgess FIRST-TIMER '17

I would imagine that this race experience all depends on the weather. Signing up in June (over 4 months in advance, with Fargo Marathon discount code), we knew that we … MORE

I would imagine that this race experience all depends on the weather. Signing up in June (over 4 months in advance, with Fargo Marathon discount code), we knew that we could be running in snow or, at the very least, very cold weather. However, for 2017, the weather was perfect. Start temp was 44 degrees, but finish temp was probably around 50 degrees.

The course is beautiful during the fall. Basic straight-away course for the first 2-3 miles, but after that, you get onto a running path (asphalt) that is surrounded by trees showing off their various autumn leaf colors. A few rolling uphills scattered through out the course, there is one big long downhill right about Mile 6, which is a great relief.

Overall, it is worth the travel. Fly to Minneapolis, stay a night or two, enjoy the drive down to Mankato remembering to stop at Minneapolis’ largest candy shop, and enjoy a great half or full marathon.

Side note: Maybe it is a personal problem, but I don’t like when events just call themselves “Marathon”, like Mankato Marathon, and not “Half Marathon”. I don’t like having a medal that says Mankato Marathon when I only ran the half. Yes, I know the ribbon says “Half”, but that is not good enough IMO.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3
My Media

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Joerobe FIRST-TIMER '18

Overall Rating: Good production. Nice trail along the river. Everything was as expected. Course Difficulty: It was really flat, with one big hill in the middle, which on a double … MORE

Overall Rating: Good production. Nice trail along the river. Everything was as expected.

Course Difficulty: It was really flat, with one big hill in the middle, which on a double loop, we covered twice.

Course Scenery: Some was nice, other was oil refinery’s and factories. None of it was bad, but there were a couple of areas that were better just because we were looking out over the river.

Race Production: Good. 25k and 50k started well before the other races, so no real overlap. Aid stations were where they were supposed to be, and course was well marked. Food at the end was awesome. There weren’t enough porta-jons, but are there ever?? One nice bathroom about 4 miles in, so we passed it 4 times. Packet pickup was a breeze.

Race Swag: Good medal and nice long sleeve tech shirt.

My Performance: It was ok. I finished a lot slower than I thought, but mostly because we were fighting a 20 mph headwind for half of the race-blah…so I think I walked about 6-8 miles of this one.

If you are looking for a 50k, but aren’t ready to wade across creeks or go mudding, this one will do. I think there are probably better paved 50k’s out there, but for a super low price, on this weekend in Jan-it would be tough to beat.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
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3
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3

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canderson.rce REPEAT RUNNER '18

I love visiting God’s Country and the Williamson area. I can argue that this race is still one of the best races ever and I’ve run some spectacular marathons. Of … MORE

I love visiting God’s Country and the Williamson area. I can argue that this race is still one of the best races ever and I’ve run some spectacular marathons. Of all the marathons under my belt, there is literally no competition in my mind. I’m glad I came back again this year because it firmly cemented my feelings that this is undeniably one my favorite marathons by far. There are a lot of good races out there, but in my personal view, this is probably the most fun you’ll have running 26.2 miles – putting aside those extreme meteorological conditions.
It is evident there’s history between the two families, and that alone is enough to lure history fans interested in seeing the places the feud made famous. Running this marathon is a great way to do just that since the course leads runners into regions where some of the feuding incidences happened. For history fans like myself, this is an unrivaled quality because you’re getting a personal look at the setting where some of the most famous Kentucky/West Virginia events transpired. I think of this marathon as a quick-paced history tour.
The H&M Marathon is a small low-key “hidden treasure” and is a spot-on description the race director Alexis and his dedicated team of volunteers do in the heart of Hatfield-McCoy feud country – except that no feuding takes place, just running. I am blown away by generosity of all the people who came out to cheer or volunteer to hand out course-side treats like watermelon, grapes, oranges, bananas, candy, sponges and rags dipped in ice water, ice water/chips, pickles and even fried chicken. Don’t forget to stop and pet the miniature horses along the way! That’s another tradition that makes this race a special event.
I don’t know what it is about the course, but you’re just surrounded by mountains, and everything is so green, and at the start, there’s typically this kind of early morning fog that appears like it’s shrouding the mountains in a clandestine manner.
Usually, June weather in the Tug Valley is hot and humid – this year no exception. With the area’s unrelenting hills, there are water stops every mile either to cool or nourish your inner self. Even though my finish time certainly reflected the heat related struggles I had throughout the second half of the marathon, somehow, I savored each and every mile. There is no time limit to complete the marathon and the course remains open until the final runner high-fives “Devil Anse” Hatfield or Ran’l McCoy.
Yes, getting to Williamson does take some effort, but once you arrive, you’ll be in for a treat – a diamond in the rough, so to speak. The race organizers and all the volunteers are incredible and the Hatfield and McCoy actors are amazing men – out there each and every year.
The course is both beautiful and interesting, and you get a lot of really unique special touches that you just don’t get at the bigger marathon events. Whether you’re a Maniac, Fanatic or a Fifty-Stater or just want to do something different, run this race. It’s worth the trip and see how far you can run with a stolen pig.
I think hillbillies are actually pretty smart, because they live in a setting way more scenic than I do. Just saying.
One must remember, be in by dark and if you see a pig, look the other way.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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runningservant FIRST-TIMER '21

First of all, this is more like a family running reunion with a well executed plan for runners on every level. Second, don't complain about the numerous add stations — … MORE

First of all, this is more like a family running reunion with a well executed plan for runners on every level. Second, don’t complain about the numerous add stations — you are not required to stop at any of them — and keep in mind that your race isn’t the only race taking place.

Logistically, they did that. You have a full, a half, a full relay, a half relay, two states – two halves all taking place at the same time. The fact that aid stations are every mile should be the least of one’s concern.

I, personally, was way too busy having the best fun and enjoying myself more than I have in over five years. From the phenomenal packet pickup to the post race party, I wished the day would’ve never ended. But all great things come to an end, at least until next year. Best believe you’d have to be the most miserable person on the planet not to have enjoyed this cool running.

Mr. and Mrs. Shawn Cool and company, along with the community, put on a memorable event. Before even toeing the start line, I knew I wanted to return to run. Within the first mile, I knew I’d be back and by mile 15, I knew I was coming back. They had aligned the entire course with personal messages to returning runners welcoming them back. The course was challenging and ran throughout the community. People were everywhere along the course cheering you on and wishing local and visiting runners personal well wishes like they’ve known them all of their lives. The aid station volunteers were past awesome, and the festivities in West Virginia start / finish line made you want to pause your Garmin and party.

It was totally a small town fell with a big town bang. From the miniature horses after the big hill up and the steep and long decline down to running through the camp areas and along the swinging bridge (I didn’t make it this far), you won’t have a moment of boredom.

CANADIAN RUNNING MAGAZINE
https://runningmagazine.ca/the-scene/meet-the-texas-man-running-50-marathons-in-50-weeks-in-50-states/

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5
My Media

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rexhunt FIRST-TIMER '22

The mile 0 Flint hills trail run had 3 distances, all along a mostly flat reclaimed rail line. A few well guarded road crossings, well stocked aid stations, and some … MORE

The mile 0 Flint hills trail run had 3 distances, all along a mostly flat reclaimed rail line. A few well guarded road crossings, well stocked aid stations, and some VERY unique scenery made this one of my top races this year. I recommend this race for all skill levels. I would do this race again. The swag is excellent, the medal is the logo burned on wood (very cool). The volunteers rock! The port-o-johns are clean. You can tell this is a race planned by runners.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5
My Media

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pollygolightly2 FIRST-TIMER '16

A well organized race, half was through a lot of neighborhoods. Well marked and really well supported. The people watching at the end of their drives, offering lemonade, beer, etc … MORE

A well organized race, half was through a lot of neighborhoods. Well marked and really well supported. The people watching at the end of their drives, offering lemonade, beer, etc was great. Aid stations were okay. M&Ms handed out towards the end were just what I needed. Minor concern with the conditions of some of the roadways. Nearly tripped on a pothole more than once. Finish line was amazing with all the people cheering. Food/beer was good, overall a really fun day.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

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runningservant FIRST-TIMER '21

Hello. I’m Aaron Burros, the Running Servant and wanted to share about my 50th Birthday Year Celebration Running of Marathons. I’m running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 weeks … MORE

Hello. I’m Aaron Burros, the Running Servant and wanted to share about my 50th Birthday Year Celebration Running of Marathons. I’m running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 weeks benefiting St. Jude Children Research Hospital. Please take an opportunity to listen to the podcast TRENDS, BENDS and OPPORTUNITIES and read the article AARON’S AUDACIOUS GOALS and donate (links are at end).

“This past weekend, I ran the “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, Hump Back”. Bridge that was the TROUBLE over calm water Marathon – the Mississippi River Marathon. I won’t spend time speaking about the course of the race except for the Mississippi River bridge going from Arkansas to Mississippi made for vehicles and not people. It expands about 2.5 miles with the half marathon and 13 mile marker on the incline — who designed this? In the words of a famous poet, DON’T BE CRUEL, BECAUSE I WOULD NEVER BE THAT CRUEL TO YOU. Continuing upward and onward you come upon mile 14 slightly pass the top of the bridge — or is that mile 15. Anyway, all I know is that when I looked back, there was a curve as far as the eye could see much like looking at the edge of the earth. This is a bridge people, not a planet.

The final mile coming off the bridge renewed my sense of purpose making me strong and invigorating my desire to run on and run strong. This was sort lived as I realized being back on the flat earth that it was the gravity pulling me off the bridge and not my body running me off. It was time for my will to kick back in. After all, I ran the first 2 hours and 20 minutes nonstop. It would take me another 4 hours and 40 minutes to run the remaining 15.2 miles (just a little under a 25K).

There are many things to appreciate about running a marathon and finishing next to dead last. For one, I was able to film everyone beginning the race for both the Arkansas Half portion and the full marathon. But what simply amazed me was the police literally drove behind the last person the entire way. I was that last person for the first 8 miles, and I tell you the truth – Ole boy was jamming. In addition, you get to see the course in the aftermath of the pack and see just how much the production people and the volunteers truly care about the runners. I never ever, ever… ever… ever experienced police and first responders cheering you on and on and on. And despite the cold weather, the volunteers played a vital part in continuing to carry us thru. But I have to give mad shots… I mean shout outs to the family and friends of the house towards the end of the private gated community. Yeah, many took shots and beer from them but I wax filled with their spirit of encouragement and sacrifice of their pickle juice for a lady I was helping to finish her first marathon.

Somewhere between miles 15 and 16, there was a lady who was praying to the LORD Jesus for help with knowing how to work through the cramps in her legs. In speaking with her, I was able to access her condition, help her hydrate properly and get pickle juice in order to keep her in the race. I was feeling good and looking forward to finishing in 6 hours. But they don’t call me the Running Servant for no reason.

If you haven’t read about my story, please click on link at the bottom to catch up to understand my why. If you have read (or heard of me, then you know that I am a sucker for a runner in distress. Seriously, and I am being serious, it has been very humbling for me to get back to running on this level. I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for the opportunity to Run and Serve. The lessons I’m learning are priceless. People are my true medals for me to display on Monday and every day thereafter.

Runners on every level were hitting their goals.
My goal was just a goal, but I wasn’t out there for a personal goal — I was out there for Aiden, a young boy I previously met at a marathon, and for Gabby, my two year old great niece who was diagnosed with a cancerous growth on her kidney along with all the other children with cancer and other childhood diseases. #IRunforAiden and #GettingItForGabby was my why regardless if I had to crawl across the finish line —thank God I didn’t have to this time.

My pain was tolerable for me but may have been intolerable for others. I’m getting stronger, but so is the pain. And while I can’t imagined the pain Aiden, Gabby and other young children go through daily from cancer, treatments and surgeries, I kept pushing through until I crossed the finish line. But not only the one at the Mississippi River Marathon but also the goal of completing my 50th Birthday Year Celebration Running of Marathons benefiting St. Jude Children Research Hospital. And I’m hoping you will not only track me but help me to reach a goal that I need your help to meet (and exceed). I’m hoping to raise $50,000 for St. Jude. Please give what you purpose in your heart to give and share my need because you have a heart. Donate here:
http://heroes.stjude.org/runningservant

By donating, families never receive a bill from St. Jude. Thank you for joining me in supporting this great organization. God bless you and yours. I’ll see you all out on the course of life. Until then, run your race well.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5
My Media

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runningservant FIRST-TIMER '21

Hello. I’m Aaron Burros, the Running Servant and wanted to share about my 50th Birthday Year Celebration Running of Marathons. I’m running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 weeks … MORE

Hello. I’m Aaron Burros, the Running Servant and wanted to share about my 50th Birthday Year Celebration Running of Marathons. I’m running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 weeks benefiting St. Jude Children Research Hospital. Please take an opportunity to listen to the podcast TRENDS, BENDS and OPPORTUNITIES and read the article AARON’S AUDACIOUS GOALS and donate (links are at end).

“This past weekend, I ran the GO SHORT GO LONG GO VERY LONG Ultra 50K ( they offer a 5K, 10K and 25K to fit the name of the race). If you want a paved trail race that mixes half city with half trails for a 25K loop, this is the race you’re looking for. But that one hill though will challenge you between miles 8 & 9. But my challenge began the moment I left Houston Texas, USA, driving to the race.

Going into race day I was sleepless in Tulsa. Upon arrival to my hotel, I was met with those unfriendly words – we are overbooked and don’t have a room for you. I would have taken the couch in the lobby, but Covid restrictions prevented such desperate measures. And with the impossible task of booking a hotel at 1 AM, I was forced to sleep – of try to anyway – in my truck in 30 degree weather. But when you’ve been the victim of a violent crime (you really should read the article to find out), you don’t sleep soundly.

The day began before sunrise with me resting my eyelids as cars poured into the park one by one. I joined the procession and parked with privilege near the restroom. There’s not a bad parking spot at all. The atmosphere was calm, the runners were poised and the stage was set for an awesome race for many.

My plan was to complete the 50K in 7 hours. This wasn’t an impossible goal. My body was in agreement with me as far as my bullet butt was concerned. Even the hill didn’t throw me off. But what did was the fact that I was sleep deprived. So after completing the first loop, I knew that I was not going to make it a second loop as I had began seeing black lines in the vision of my right eye after each blink.

As with the previous race, runners on every level were hitting their goals. I did stop to help a young lady who was half way through the 25K but couldn’t finish. I hope she’s better and will get back out on the course soon.

My goal was just a goal; but I wasn’t out there for a personal goal, I was out there for Aiden, a young boy I previously met at a marathon, and for Gabby, my two year old great niece who was diagnosed with a cancerous growth on her kidney (and with tumors inside her skull since last run) along with all the other children with cancer and other childhood diseases. #IRunforAiden and #GettingItForGabby

My pain was very uncomfortable to say the least. And while I can’t imagined the pain Aiden, Gabby and other young children go through daily from cancer, treatments and surgeries, I’ll keep pushing through until I cross the finish line at the 50th state in the Houston Chevron Marathon and Aramco Half January 16, 2022.

I was the very last 50K runner and didn’t finish. The volunteers treated us as if we were the top male and female finishers — thank you all for the excellent job. Continue to be audacious. Like Arnold, “I’ll be back.”.

What is Your 2021 Audacious Goal?
https://murfieldcoaching.com/2021/01/12/what-is-your-2021-audacious-goal/

DIRECT DONATIONS
http://heroes.stjude.org/runningservant

TRACK MY RUNS
https://raceraves.com/runningservant/

PODCAST INTERVIEW
https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=824803278272266

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5
My Media

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

Profile photo of Laura Gail
lauralariv REPEAT RUNNER '17

Great race for getting started in ultra races. Course has many rolling hills, trails (not technical), grassy fields. Very good aid stations, and cool atmosphere at start/finish area MORE

Great race for getting started in ultra races. Course has many rolling hills, trails (not technical), grassy fields. Very good aid stations, and cool atmosphere at start/finish area

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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runningservant FIRST-TIMER '21

In the winter month of January on the 15th day in the 1971 year of our LORD, a birth of a runner took place. What was his name? You guessed … MORE

In the winter month of January on the 15th day in the 1971 year of our LORD, a birth of a runner took place. What was his name? You guessed correctly, Aaron Burros. I am the one birthed but wasn’t born to run and was far from being the Running Servant I am today.

As I prepared to run my 50th Birthday Year Celebration running quest, 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, I was excited to put on my schedule the Akron Marathon, even though I wasn’t sure if it would even take place due to the pandemic. But it did take place. It was a highlight of my year.

After settling in to the guest hotel, I walked around the downtown area reminiscing of how it looked when I was 9 years old walk to my Aunt and Uncle’s house while noticing mile markers and wondering how the course would end. There was a slope which elevated in the direction of the finish area. I thought to myself how fitting. This reminded me of how the month of September was ending — heading up to a milestone of my journey. It was surreal. I’m in my home city about to tow the line and run the course. But with every race there exist challenges before you get to enjoy that moment.

I took time to enjoy every moment. I intentionally walked the mile to the expo. I intentionally walked into the expo to pick up my packet. I continued to be intentional about every part of the process. Then it happened. My PTSD was triggered. I couldn’t believe this was happening, not now, not in front of all these people and not in the midst of my beloved birthplace. The eyes of the young volunteer told me everything I needed to know about how I had responded to him informing me that my 1/4 Zip wasn’t available. You might be laughing reading this, but it wasn’t a laughing matter. It’s my second biggest trigger of my PTSD.

In trying to maintain a sense of control, I asked to speak to the person over the expo. She quickly came over, I explained why I was very disappointed and how I was tired of races charging extra for bigger sizes; only for me to get to the races to be told they’d ran out of my my size. Again, the look on her face told me everything I needed to know about how quickly I was losing control.

The expo coordinator took ownership (many don’t) apologized and tried desperately to make it right. But there was nothing that could be done as they didn’t have my size in anything. I expressed to her how important it was to ensure that races maintain the integrity of merchandise where runners pay extra. She literally wrote it down and asked for my contact info. After wards we went separate ways.

I totally lost control of my emotions. I went and sat in the hallway weeping uncontrollably. Please don’t think this was all about a 1/4 Zip. The betrayal and pain runs very deep. As I wept the coordinator comes back. She gets my attention. She tells me that one of the volunteers has a husband, who is an ultra marathoner and who has a 1/4 Zip in my size, that is willing to give it to me and take the smaller size. Seriously, now I’m crying both uncontrolled and controlled tears, some of joy and some of pain. Ultra Marathoners are awesome selfless human beings; this is what I normal do and not something that is done for me, thank you,I express to them.

I often say that it isn’t about things going wrong, as they shall, but what you do when things go wrong that matters. These ladies provided to me the best experience that the towing and crossing of a start / finish line could ever provide.

The next day I was past excited to run even though I battled the depression from being triggered. I went from not running the race to a place of running and enjoying the sites and sunrise (on the bridge) to the people and police along the course. All because two ladies embodied what I would experience along the course inside the expo. Akron owes me nothing.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4
My Media

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