How Fast Do You Want to Run?
Looking for your first 100? How about your first sub 24? Sub 20? Lower? It’s possible at Tunnel Hill. There are a large % of first-time finishers in the 100 or the 50 miles. For those who have run a 100 or 50 elsewhere, the majority of them set a personal record, and oftentimes by a wide margin. Are you next?
Is it a Road Course, or is it a Trail?
This was a hotly debated topic after Camille Herron slaughtered the women’s 100 mile World Record.
Well guess what? It’s both! Because it is sanctioned, and course certified by the USATF & IAAF (and course ratified), it’s a Road or Open course. And, because it is not paved, it is considered Trail by the American Trail Runners Assoc., and the International Trail Runners Association.
Camille’s 12:42:40 gives her the World Record for 100 miles for Women, regardless of surface (including Track).
Zach Bitter’s 12:08:36 gives him the World’s Best time for an unpaved surface (commonly known by the ITRA as a trail) 100 by anyone, ever.
100 mile: All entrants will receive a lightweight hoodie, a drawstring bag, a race belt for your bib, and a running cap. Finishers will receive a custom belt buckle.
50 mile: All entrants will receive a lightweight hoodie, drawstring bag, and a running cap. Finishers will receive a custom belt buckle.
Marathon: All entrants receive a lightweight hoodie, drawstring bag, and running cap. Finishers receive custom medal.
We use the legendary Tunnel Hill Trail; starting at the same start line in Vienna City Park, proceeding south for 1.1 miles, then turn north, and through the iconic Tunnel to the northern turnaround, before running back through the tunnel, and enjoying a slight 9 mile downhill to the finish at Vienna City Park.
NOTE: due to our limited access to the course, you will not have as many water stations as some marathons have. Water and SWORD hydration drink will be available every 3 – 5 miles. You might want to carry fluids with you.
The event is USATF Sanctioned, and the course is USATF certified IL18001BW.
Western States & UTMB qualifying race
We are pleased that Tunnel Hill 2022 is a UTMB qualifying race, worth 5 points.
Tunnel Hill 2022 is also a qualifier for Western States 2024. Finish the 100, and you’ve qualified for WSER 2024.
It just happens that Tunnel Hill falls on the first week after the last qualifying weekend for the next year’s WSER, so that means it’s the first weekend for WSER qualifying for the year after next. Might as well get it out of the way early!!
Note: you still have to go through the qualifying paperwork.
Highlights from the First 9 Years
2022: A freak 3 hour snow storm really affected finishing rates, but these champions persisted: Phil Young – repeat winner in the 100 mile, Jill Wojta 100 mile winner in the 4th fastest 100 for female at TH, Rajpual Pannu – 50 mile winner in a brilliant 5:08, and Matt Kruger, who lowered the marathon course record to 2:29! 2021: World record holder Zach Bitter decided to return and attempt to be the first to run sub 12hrs off road. He was on pace through 90 miles before things unraveled a bit. Bitter pressed on, but was overtaken by Phil Young, who won in 12:44:08. Bitter (12:47), was joined by Jacob Moss (12:54) to give us three runners under 13 hrs. This was only the second race on record to boast 3 sub 13 hour 100s on the same day, and the first since 1975. Stefanie Flippin repeated as women’s champ with an awesome 14:04.
2020: Coronavirus. Tunnel Hill was limited to 100 total entrants combined for the 100 and 50 mile runs. Didn’t matter to Taggart Vanetten (12:19), and the four others who broke 13:43 in the 100; or to 50 mile course record setters Zack Beavin (5:03) and Jackie Pirtle-Hall (6:02). 2019: Mike Bialick (12:59) won for the third time/second as overall. Loretta Horn won the women’s with her 17:21. In the 50 mile, 2016 100 mile winner, Juan Moran (5:35) beat a strong field that included five runners with SUB6 hours. Stephanie Hill’s 7:19 won for the women.
2018: 12:08:36. American Record Holder at 100 miles, Zach Bitter blazed to the 4th fastest 100 miles ever, and shattered the world mark for FKT on a trail 100. Two-time Male Champion, Mike Bialick cruised to what will probably be the second fastest 100 run in N. America this year with his 12:56. Neela D’Souza won for the 3rd overall time, and second in the 100 with a 16:52.
In the 50 mile, Nicole Monette won the 50 miler, finishing in 6:37, while Maksym Chepeliev smoked a 5:59.
2017: WORLD RECORD! Camille Herron ran 12:42:40, shattering the old record by over an hour! Her mark also establishes a new Fastest Known Time for 100 miles on Trail by anyone, ever.
Mike Bialick ran a gutsy race, following within striking distance until around mile 90. Mike won the Men’s Division with a 13:02:44.
In the 50 mile: Matt Hoyes won in 5:54:40, while Alicia Heyne won the women’s in 7:26:31.
2016: Coree Woltering claimed his second TH win, as he ran away from a strong field with his brilliant 5:30:15 for 50 miles, and good for second fastest in N America for the year.
Juan Moran took the 100 mile win with a 14:40:26, while Neela D’Souza’s 16:20:07 earned her second overall, and First Female.
2015: Mike Bialick of Minnetonka, MN, flew past all the really fast 50 milers, turning in a 6:07 fifty mile split, on his way to the Fastest 100 mile run recorded for 2015 (12:52:53). Harvey Lewis was second in 14:45. Kristen Roe, of Manlius, NY, in her very first 100 miler, took the Ladies title with her 17:34:55.
In the 50 mile: Coree Woltering won in 6:18:06, while Neela D’Souza took the women’s crown in 6:36:35.
2014: When we decided to host a 100/50 miler on the beautiful Tunnel Hill State Trail we knew that someone could post a really fast time. Add 48hr World Record holder Traci Falbo, and excitement was high. (much higher than the temperatures.. 18 degrees at the start, overcast upper 20s in the day, and a little sleet at night).
Traci cruised to a new American Record for woman on a trail 100 miler with her 14:45:26.
Traci put Tunnel Hill on the map with her brilliant performance, lending instant credibility to the course.
Troy Shellhamer won the Men’s Division in 16:08:02.
In the 50 mile: Matthew Brooks won with his 6:20:29, while Ashley Ruberg won the women’s in 6:56:29
Running is better with friends...
Overall Rating: Really good first time or PR race. Course Difficulty: I think this is about as easy as a fifty miler gets; enough scenery to keep it interesting, but … MORE
Overall Rating: Really good first time or PR race.
Course Difficulty: I think this is about as easy as a fifty miler gets; enough scenery to keep it interesting, but no elevation or challenging terrain to speak of. The cold sort of hurts, but it is November.
Course Scenery: Nice southern Illinois scenery with wetlands, hardwood forests, creeks and rail trestles.
Race Production: Always good. DRM does a great job with the aid stations, volunteers, and general race coordination. No surprises, so all good.
Race Swag: One of the best buckles you’ll ever get, and a pretty sweet hoodie and hat to go along with it – free race pic downloads.
My Performance: I ran this entire race with a friend for her first 50 miler, and she beat her 12 hour goal…she said anything less than 12 was a win, so we won!
Final notes: TH100/50 is a great race. Be prepared for the cold, and spend some time training for repetitive foot strikes and you can definitely get this one done.
Very fast course, good organization
This race should be very high on your list if you're looking for a fast, "easy" (in relative terms) 100-miler. It's all rail-to-trail, so while there's a slightly more uphill … MORE
This race should be very high on your list if you’re looking for a fast, “easy” (in relative terms) 100-miler. It’s all rail-to-trail, so while there’s a slightly more uphill section, there are no large hills and no technical terrain. You can basically run it like a road race, but it’s softer on your legs. The aid stations are great, and the scenery is fairly nice for a flat race—the woods, rock walls, bridges, and infamous tunnel make it somewhat interesting. It’s a good one for spectators/crews, too—they can easily get around to most of the aid stations and see you several times. Plus, it’s a Western States qualifier!
First rate production
This was a great first 100. Unfortunately I went into it nursing a knee and after the first 50 knew I was in trouble and dropped. That being said it … MORE
This was a great first 100. Unfortunately I went into it nursing a knee and after the first 50 knew I was in trouble and dropped. That being said it was an excellent race. First rate aid see. Everything you could need they had they for you. Right when you need it. Signed up to try again in 2019!
More challenging than I thought...
Overall Rating: Great race with a lot of great people. Course Difficulty: All rail trail-non technical course. I thought I may just skate through this one, but with the cold … MORE
Overall Rating: Great race with a lot of great people.
Course Difficulty: All rail trail-non technical course. I thought I may just skate through this one, but with the cold and the really long uphill, it turned out to be more challenging than I thought. Really wanted a sub ten hour run, but realized about 25 miles in that wasn’t going to happen.
Course Scenery: It was good. Course runs through the Cache River wetlands and quite a few outcroppings on the way back to the tunnel.
Race Production: Packet pickup was a little confusing, but ended up not being any problem. Aid stations and volunteers were excellent. Food was good at the end.
Race Swag: Outstanding buckle for 50 and 100 milers, nice thin cotton hoodie, choice of several hats.
My Performance: Not great, but I just don’t do well in cold weather. All in all I’m satisfied.
Final notes: This was a good 50 miler that was close to home, so I wanted to give it a try. I’m flirting with the idea of trying this as my first 100 miler, but may try for a warmer climate instead. Will just have to see. This course is obviously fast for those runners looking to PR or set a record, for the rest of us, it’s a large enough race that you have people to talk to the entire run. Worth it.