Overall Rating
Overall Rating (3 Reviews)
4.3
(3 Ratings)  (3 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.3
SCENERY
5
PRODUCTION
4.7
SWAG
4.3
The highball was a signal used in early railroads to signal the track was clear. When the ball was hoisted, trains were cleared to proceed! We are raising the ball on this unique 50 mile and 50 Kilometer event, and encouraging athletes to proceed on this epic adventure. Both races … MORE
Local Historical Weather (May 19):
  2024 2023 2022 2021 2020
 
H (°F)  78  71  78  78  61
L (°F)  61  53  60  55  48
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Recent reviews

    missmac17224 FIRST-TIMER '23

    Highball to Thurmond offered 55k, 50 mile relay and 50 mile solo options. My review will be about the 50 miler. I will include what I did for this race … MORE

    Highball to Thurmond offered 55k, 50 mile relay and 50 mile solo options. My review will be about the 50 miler. I will include what I did for this race and whether it worked for me. Or not.

    For the 50 miler, runners could choose to start early, at 4:45 am. They would not be eligible for awards but would have a 14 hour time limit. The regular start time was 6 am, with a 12.75 hour time limit. The time limits for the 50 mile race were mainly for the train. Since the 50 mile course was point to point, runners had the option of taking an Amtrak train from the finish line back to the start, or else make their own transportation arrangements. The course started in Montgomery, WV, went through New River Gorge National Park and finished in Thurmond, WV.

    I chose the 4:45 am start, which worked well for me, as I was able to make the cutoffs. Due to miscalculating how long it would take me to get ready and get to the start, I arrived at the start area at 4:41 am. This worked out, as I was able to park about half a block from the start line. I would not recommend doing this though, as it was all street parking and I just plain got lucky 😂.

    The first 9 miles consisted of rolling hills, then the next 10 or so were gravel/dirt roads and a more serious, 4 or so mile climb. There was then a two mile descent, with some waterfalls along the side of the road. After going across Hawk’s Nest Dam, this brought me to the first drop bag location. I switched from road shoes to trail shoes, which worked out well. I did not have the rock guards in my Altra trail shoes, but I wish did. There were parts of the course that has some sharp rocks underfoot. I would also include bug spray in the first drop bag.

    Mile 20 or so was when the trail running began, starting with a steep but thankfully short climb to a single track trail. There were rock cliffs on one side of the trail and steep drop offs on the other side. Parts of the trail (both here and later on) were muddy, but not terribly so.

    The trails varied between technical single track, flat rail trail, and steep, rocky descents and ascents. The section of trail descending to Kaymoor Miners Trail had wooden steps and rock steps. My trail shoes did fail me a bit. The first time, both feet slid forward out from under me as I was going down a steep part, landing me on my butt. No harm done. That time. While trying to be cautious on the rocks, my toes had a tendency to slide forward in the shoes despite using a heel lock method of lacing. This caused bruised toes and I will lose at least one toenail.

    There were some brief sections of road when connecting between some trails. Some trails had a steep drop off to one side, so be careful if you’re afraid of heights. Or have a fear of tripping and stumbling down the side of a mountain, like I do.

    The second bag drop was at roughly mile 40. I definitely needed the bug spray that I had in there but might have preferred another change of shoes. I think trail shoes were still needed (more on that shortly) but maybe some with more cushion. There was a fairly steep paved section that my knees and quads didn’t like as my zero drop trail shoes just didn’t provide enough cushion.

    After following a fairly flat rail trail for a few miles after that, there was one final brief but very steep ascent. This climb was just that…a steep 300 foot climb up a rocky trail, more suitable for hiking with poles. Unless you use your hands to practically pull yourself up the trail. A nice wide and flat rail trail with a couple wooden bridges was the reward for completing that ascent.

    The last mile and a half or so was paved and I once again wished for a more cushioned shoe. This section is also the namesake of this race, being that you could “highball” it into the town of Thurmond. Crossing the finish line, you were given your medal, which had an enclosed train that slid back and forth, and doubles as a drink coaster. There were refreshments waiting along with our third and final drop bag. I had a change of clothes in my bag, but purposefully did not include another pair of shoes. I might have enjoyed a pair of recovery sandals, but knew I would be afraid to see what my feet looked like after 50 miles.

    Since I finished within the time limit, I was able to grab a sloppy joe and some chocolate milk after changing my clothes. Those of us that purchased a train ticket then went to the Amtrak station to catch the 6:59 train. Since the train didn’t actually show up until 7:30, the race organizers popped the champagne bottles early, on the station platform. The train ride took about 50 minutes and was a nice way to chat with other people with the same interests and had also just completed the same awesome achievement. Champagne continued to flow. Race director Rich spent time talking to every runner in the train car, once again proving how much he cares about the runners.

    The entire course was very well marked and easy to follow. There were 8 aid stations, stocked with a variety of foods, tailwind, and water. I did wear my hydration vest, which was a very wise choice. The volunteers at the aid stations were very helpful and supportive, and seemed more like your own personal crew. There were so many beautiful sections of trail that I ended up taking over 100 pictures during the run. I could not resist photo-documenting this achievement.

    A couple of notes about the 55k: this route was an out and back that started at 7 am in Thurmond, where the 50 mile runners finished. The 55k runners had the dubious pleasure of both descending and ascending the 300 feet rocky trail on the side of the mountain. They also would have to contend with two way traffic on the section of trail that had the big drop off and was barely wide enough for single file. Taking the train after finishing wasn’t really an option for them either.

    Pre-race stuff: there was TONS of communications prior to the race. Personalized coaching including a custom training plan was available for $20. I did this and credit the Coach Becki and the plan for helping me be prepared for this run. There were two virtual meetings with Rich, Jen and Becki so that runners could ask questions and get advice. A nice tech shirt was included but a jacket was available for purchase. I had preordered the jacket and was pleased with my purchase. There was a mandatory meeting the night before (or you could join the virtual meeting a couple days before). There was an optional pasta dinner following the meeting. Packet pick-up, the preface meeting and pasta dinner were held at the Historic Glen Ferris Inn, which is also where I chose to lodge for this race. The athlete guide detailed the course section by section and included all the details one might need. It even listed what foods and flavors of tailwind would be at each aid station. I took a screenshot of the page with the time cutoffs, so I could reference it during the run to be sure I would make the cutoffs in time.

    While parts of the trails were quite difficult for me, I am immensely happy that I chose this 50 mile race. Trivium Racing is easily my favorite race organizer.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

    3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    epatino24 May 30, 2023 at 4:48am

    Thanks for this review- thinking of the 50 miler for next year. Would be my first 50 mile. Appreciate the insight about the shoes!

    Thanks for this review- thinking of the 50 miler for next year. Would be my first 50 mile. Appreciate the insight about the shoes!

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    alkathryn FIRST-TIMER '22

    This race, and all of the Trivium races for that matter, has the absolute best communication I have ever experienced with any race. They sent daily emails about weather updates, … MORE

    This race, and all of the Trivium races for that matter, has the absolute best communication I have ever experienced with any race. They sent daily emails about weather updates, course conditions, suggestions on road or trail shoes (wow!). They checked on the course multiple times throughout the upcoming week and constantly sent updates. The athlete guide packet was so detailed — it described the course segments to a tee, every mile, the terrain, the elevation, what to expect.
    This was my first ultra, and I felt so calm and prepared largely thanks to all of the communication they offered. There were NO unknowns.
    As far as the course, it was absolutely beautiful. There was a lot more road than I expected. The giant hill between 9.5-11, I think most people walked. It was massive, but so fun to fly back down. The rest ten miles were easy peasy. Flat or downhill with road and smooth trail. The middle 10 miles were more technical and exhausting. (It was a 15 mile out and back). My plan was to floor it on the last 10, but the technical bit took a lot out of me. It was a little warm at the top of the mountain, and humid from the rain storms the night before, and the last aid stations were toooooo far apart. I ran out of water before one and another didn’t really have very good fuel so I ended up running out of fuel too. That sucked, but otherwise, amazing race. The swag was beautiful. The volunteers were so kind. I can’t speak highly enough about this race. I will definitely be back and be recommending it to everyone. It’s a relatively flat, smooth entry into ultra running and through the most beautiful national park.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

    1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

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    diverdude0075 FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was both my first time doing this race and my first time visiting WV. The state and race are beautiful! So many trees! I enjoyed the run overall and … MORE

    This was both my first time doing this race and my first time visiting WV. The state and race are beautiful! So many trees!

    I enjoyed the run overall and am very happy with my performance, despite sweltering conditions. I kept up on electrolytes, fuel, and water which was key. Aide stations were adequately stocked though I would have like salt for the watermelon.

    Conditions were somewhat muddy and wet although not too bad. What was super annoying were all the darned horse flies. Persistent little buggers. My arms and shoulders got the better workout from all the swatting !! haha.

    The other runners were cool and the RD obviously cared a great deal about putting on a great event! Also, his mom handled end of run food and her pancakes were outstanding!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    diverdude0075 May 24, 2022 at 6:56am

    I forgot to add that the medal was pretty cool!

    I forgot to add that the medal was pretty cool!

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