Overall Rating
Overall Rating (1 Review)
4
(1 Ratings)(1 Review)
DIFFICULTY
1
SCENERY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SWAG
4
The Kansas Rails-to-Trails 100 Mile is run on the Prairie Spirit Trail and is a beautiful “rails-to-trails” course that runs through numerous quaint little towns. Starting at Celebration Hall in Ottawa, runners will do a short (appox. 2 mile) northbound out-and-back, then travel south to Iola and back north to … MORE
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    M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '20

    BOTTOM LINE: The Kansas Rails-to-Trails Extravaganza was the perfect race to help me maintain my health, sanity and motivation in the midst of a global pandemic, as for five (near-freezing) … MORE

    BOTTOM LINE: The Kansas Rails-to-Trails Extravaganza was the perfect race to help me maintain my health, sanity and motivation in the midst of a global pandemic, as for five (near-freezing) hours I was able to forget the virus heard round the world. And if you’re a fan of low-key, small-town events that feature grain elevators as highlights, then this may be the perfect race for you in any year. With a population of around 12,000 residents, Ottawa is one of the smaller towns I’ve visited in my 100+ races—a bit ironic, given that my original choice for the Sunflower State was the Eisenhower Marathon in Abilene, a town half the size of Ottawa.

    The bulk (24.6 miles) of the 50K course runs north/south on the comfortable crushed limestone of the Prairie Spirit Trail, book-ended by 5 miles at the start and 1.5 miles at the end on paved terrain. (The 100 Mile course covers the entirety of the PST.) It’s tough to imagine a much flatter or straighter course than this one. And though the rural route lets you decompress and breathe, the flip side is that you better enjoy time alone with your own thoughts, because there’s little in the way of distraction—no energetic spectators or musical bands, only amber waves of grain as far as the eye can see. Aside from aid station volunteers and a few folks crewing for other runners, most of the spectators had four legs, and most of the two-legged spectators had wings. With the trail stretching out ahead of you for miles at a time, you’ll swear you can see Nebraska to the north and Oklahoma to the south. At the same time, the unchanging scenery makes it challenging to gauge progress, which in turn makes it easier to surrender to fatigue and give yourself permission to walk. Kansas Rails-to-Trails is a “dig deep, find your inner bad-ass, and keep going” type of race.

    I’m not typically a fan of out-and-backs, but in such a relaxed, laid-back setting I appreciated being able to see and lend support to my fellow runners. In that sense, KRTE provides the opportunity to be both competitive and sociable at the same time. How many races can say that?

    For anyone who likes the sound but not the timing of the Kansas Rails-to-Trails Extravaganza, the Prairie Spirit Trail Ultra held each March is the spring edition of essentially the same race, minus October’s fall colors and the marathon/half marathon distances: https://raceraves.com/races/prairie-spirit-trail-ultra-races/

    PRODUCTION: Race production was minimal and even more so during a pandemic. Everything about race weekend was easy peasy, from the start and finish lines separated by just a few yards alongside incongruously named Celebration Hall, to the outdoor packet pickup, to the staggered start times with each runner being assigned a starting window of ten minutes. (I was among the last runners to start at 8:15am and did so alone.) Three well-stocked (though widely spaced) aid stations awaited runners at miles 11 (out)/24 (back) and at the turnaround at mile 17.5, along with a couple of other unmanned “stations” which basically consisted of a stash of bottled water. With crew access limited to the three manned stations, carrying your own nutrition may not be a bad idea. And to help you prepare for race day, the organizers provide a detailed booklet which answers most of the questions you’re likely to ask.

    SWAG: Definitely a highlight of this low-frills event. Aside from the potential to set a personal record on its flat & speedy course, one reason I chose to run the 50K rather than the marathon was the promise of a belt buckle rather than the usual finisher’s medal—a minor detail to be sure, but nonetheless a silver lining on the dark cloud of a brutal pandemic/election year. And with Race Director Carolyn being kind enough to provide its own ribbon, the buckle now hangs proudly alongside the other medals on my 50 States Wall o’ Fame. With temperatures in the 30s and my brain awash in post-PR endorphins, I also had no qualms about buying a charcoal-and-green KRTE hoodie to match the standard short sleeve race tee. Both have turned out to be very comfy, even if I do live in Los Angeles where a heavy sweatshirt isn’t the savviest consumer purchase.

    For more deets and plenty of prairie spirit, check out my race report at https://blisterscrampsheaves.com/2021/04/21/kansas-rails-to-trails-extravaganza-race-report/

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    4
    My Report
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4
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    2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    mikebeckwith Apr 21, 2021 at 8:19am

    Nice job Mike. Great review.

    Nice job Mike. Great review.

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    M_Sohaskey Apr 21, 2021 at 9:03pm

    Thanks, Mike! Tough to believe this and the Mt Diablo 50K are the same distance 😅... two very different sides of the same coin!

    Thanks, Mike! Tough to believe this and the Mt Diablo 50K are the same distance 😅... two very different sides of the same coin!

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    mikebeckwith Apr 22, 2021 at 10:32am

    Yeah, slightly different. :)

    Yeah, slightly different. :)

    jonoringading Apr 21, 2021 at 7:07am

    Just confused about the 50k being 24.6 miles??

    Just confused about the 50k being 24.6 miles??

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    M_Sohaskey Apr 21, 2021 at 8:51pm

    My bad Jono, good catch... I meant the 24.6 to describe "bulk" (the portion on the unpaved trail) rather than "50K." (In fact, the 50K course was spot-on per my… MORE

    My bad Jono, good catch... I meant the 24.6 to describe "bulk" (the portion on the unpaved trail) rather than "50K." (In fact, the 50K course was spot-on per my Garmin at 31.1 miles.) I've gone ahead and made that correction. Thanks for reading and noting! LESS

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