The Duncan Ridge Trail 50k takes place in North Georgia near Blairsville, starting and finishing from Vogel State Park. Billed as the ‘toughest 50k in the southeast’; it utilizes the Coosa Backcountry Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail. At just over 31-miles, with 10,000ft of vertical climb (and equivalent descent), the course promises a challenge to any runner. So I decided to give it a whirl!
Since I've never run those trails, I drove down the day before the race to scout portions of the trail. The Race Director (RD) also offered a pre-race packet pickup that Friday evening. I always prefer pre-race packet pick ups so I can see what kind of bib, or number, or timing chip is being used so I may make the necessary adjustments. Got to have everything dialed in and reduce as many race-day surprises as I can.
Ever integrated your alarm clock into your dreams? Yea well I got to the race venue just 15min before the start. So much for reducing race-day surprises... I whipped into the parking lot, ran my stuff to the bag-drop, and then went back to my truck for final preparations. It was cool out (~50*), windy, cloudy, and misty; I was expecting just a +/-5* temp change as a high-pressure system moved in over the day. I tend to run hot on race day so just shorts/singlet/visor should suffice, right? I'll come back to that.
The bEast Coast mountain trails were as expected, tons of wet leaves, roots, and rocks. Most of the climbs were strait up and over peaks; the trail was riddled with mud and fallen trees to climb or dip under. There were even points when the trail was barely there and thankfully that’s where the RD placed orange surveyor flags to keep runners on course.
I was prepared and expecting these rough conditions. I regularly run trails in Pisgah National Forest and got a good deal of training in at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park this summer; but the wind and cold got to me Saturday. I couldn't feel my hands for more than half of the time, with wind chill it dropped MUCH more than the anticipated +/- 5deg.
Racing makes you do silly things sometimes. I attempted to run with my fingers under my armpits at times for added warmth. It looked like your imaging, like a bearded distance runner doing the chicken dance while covering intense single track over a mountain as quickly as possible: awkward. The chicken dance posture didn't work well so I just focused on keeping moving, not only for the race, but for warmth and the thought that the faster I run the sooner this will be over.
I was pleased to not see the front-runner until ~1mi from the turnaround of the out and back course. At the 15.5mi mark I did the drop bag thing, I crushed a double espresso and a handful of roasted almonds. Now back to the start/finish line! The return trip was tough, slogging up steep mucky pitches, beaten up by runners before and after me... I thought the return trip was supposed to be easier!
Now my goal to the finish, NOT GET PASSED. I convinced myself that there was always someone behind me just around the bend, just out of sight. It worked. I made it back to the start line in 6hrs, 49minutes. Earning 6th place overall in my first 50k race!
The Duncan Ridge Trail 50k is NO JOKE. While it is a tough course, the race is very well run, the aid stations are well stocked, and the volunteers I met along the way were great and very supportive! I suggest this race (or the 30k ‘short’ option) for any runner looking for a challenge. The cut-off times were generous allowing participants of almost any pace to finishing the course. There were ample options to drop-out in the event of an injury or being ill-prepared. This race is for the ‘purists’ out there, no awards or age groups, just a finisher’s prize (a nice synthetic hat or a pint glass), and of course, bragging rights.
This year there were 185 starters, 163 total finishers, 72 30k Finishers, 91 50k finishers, 22 DNF's, and 19 dropped to the 30k from the 50k.
If I find myself still on the East Coast next year, I'll definitely be back for more!
Mark your calendars for November 22, 2014!!!
Adventure Geek Racing Team Member
Big Elk Marathon
Starting from the fairgrounds, the course will travel north on road for approximately ¾ mile before turning right onto the Orange trail. The orange trail consists of mostly double-track with some single track sections and enough rock gardens to make you thankful you chose to wear your trail specific racing shoes. This segment will feature some light rolling hills for about 1.5 miles before turning onto some unnamed single track. After a quick downhill and easy stream crossing, the course will zigzag up and down a series of hairpin turns before letting out on a short, steep rocky downhill that will serve as a great separation point for the mountain goats from the trail sprouts. At the bottom of this trail, runners will follow some grassy double-track along the Big Elk Creek before crossing over on a bridge and reaching the first aid station (~mile 3.5).
From the first aid station, runners will proceed briefly on some double-track/service road before jumping on uphill single track bringing you to the Route 273 crossing. After going over the bridge, you will have a brief flat gravel road to stretch your legs out before turning right on some more single track. This single track is mostly non-technical but will bring you through a series of sharp turns before letting you out back onto the gravel road surrounding the creek. Water and aid will be waiting for you at the end of this trail (~mile 5).
After another brief (.25 mile) on gravel road along the water, you will again cross the Big Elk creek onto the Yellow trail. You will follow this single-track rolling trail on the west side of the creek for slightly over a mile before crossing over the gravel road (possible self serve water-refill spot) and through a field to get to the 7 Bridges trail. This single-track section will feature some significantly technical sections from roots, with a few steep changes in grade as you wind through the woods in this area of the park. This trail will let you back out onto the gravel road which you will follow up to Gallaher Rd, and crossing into the parking lot for the red trail where full aid will be waiting (~mile 8.5).
The race will then travel through the inner red-loop featuring some rooted sections and small stream crossings for 1.5 miles, before traveling uphill towards Big Elk Chapel Road. Water will be waiting at the road crossing (~mile 10.5). You will then continue through a field before entering trails surrounding the training grounds. This trail will wind around and gently roll, as well as featuring some small stream crossings. The course will then continue along the edge of the field travelling east with a quick aid station available (~mile 11.5).
In the final segment of the course you will travel briefly uphill on some moderately rooted single-track trail, continue across a training field before joining the last 1.5 mile segment of rooted single track bringing you back to the fairgrounds.
Overall, the course features rolling hills with no significant “climbs”. Depending on the rainfall leading up to race day, keeping your feet dry may be an option, although it may require a bit of extra effort! The course has some technical elements with rocks along the first several miles of the course, leaving way for significant roots waiting to trip you up over the last half of each loop.
XTERRA Atlantic Series heading toward stretch run
May 30, 2013 – What started out as training runs turned into race victories for Preston Campbell and Jackie Palmer at the XTERRA Lums Pond Trail Run.
Campbell was the overall winner of the 10-kilometer trail race at Lums Pond State Park in Bear, Delaware. Palmer placed ninth overall and was the top female.
Campbell, a Navy helicopter pilot from Annapolis, Maryland, completed the course in 38 minutes, 18 seconds. It was his second consecutive overall victory in the XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series (he also won the previous race at Seneca Creek, Maryland, last month).
“The race was really fantastic,” he said. “I race Columbia Tri the weekend before, so the flat course at Lums Pond felt amazing and the conditions could not have been better.”
Campbell’s main sport is triathlons, so he has been entering the XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series as a form of training.
He said he took the lead two miles into the course, and then gradually increased his lead the rest of the way. “I ran my race and enjoyed the trail,” he said.
Juan Pablo Prada from Newark, Delaware, placed second in 39:17, and Doug Bishop, also from Newark, was third in 39:58.
Palmer likes to enter ultra marathon races, so the Lums Pond 10K was a warm-up of sorts for her (she did a longer race the very next day).
“I have been to Lums Pond before, but not for trail running so was not familiar with the trail itself, but knew it was flat,” said Palmer, who is also from Newark. “The trails I usually train on are a little more hilly, so I think this helped my strength, even though there were not actually hills in the race.”
Palmer finished with a time of 46:26, which was 21 seconds ahead of Leonie Campbell – who is Preston Campbell’s wife. It was Palmer’s second victory in the 2013 Atlantic Series.
“I expected the beginning of the course to bottle neck at the trail head and I went out a little faster to try and avoid it so I think I was in the lead for the females from the start,” Palmer said. “There was at least one other woman following close behind me for the first half of the race, but she eventually dropped off. Then I was just racing with some boys to the finish.”
CLICK HERE TO VIEW COMPLETE RESULTS
The XTERRA Lums Pond Trail Run was the third of four races in the 2013 XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series. The series finale will be the XTERRA Big Elk Trail Run at the Elkton, Maryland, on June 22. To register for a race in the series or to learn more about it, please visitwww.adventuregeekproductions.com.
XTERRA Atlantic Series Is Underway
Daigeaun and Palmer win inaugural race at Brandywine Creek
March 13, 2013 – As the saying goes, you never forget your first, and the XTERRA Brandywine Creek Trail Run was indeed memorable for Michael Daigeaun and Jackie Palmer.
The Brandywine Creek Trail Run was the very first event for the new XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series, and Daigeaun and Palmer were the overall winners.
More than 120 runners from seven different states participated in the inaugural race at Brandywine Creek State Park in Wilmington, Delaware. It was the first of four races in the 2013 XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series.
Daigeaun came over from Philadelphia to participate in the race, and he ran away from the competition. He completed the 12-kilometer course in 48 minutes, 32 seconds, which was more than two minutes faster than the other top runners.
“For the most part, I got out front pretty early in the race,” he said. “Once we hit some flat double-track after the downhill at the start, I moved to the front and slowly pulled away.”
Daigeaun, who is an experienced road racer, described the course as “a nice mix of varied terrain.”
“You had nice run-able single-track with enough technical sections and hills to keep you on your toes,” he added. “When you got to the last two-and-a-half miles, you were on rolling wide open fields. If you had speed and gas left in the tank, this is where you could really open it up.”
Mike Monagle from Wilmington placed second in 50:44, and Derek Schultz from Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, was third in 51:14.
Daigeaun and Schultz were two of the more than 50 runners who came over from Pennyslvania to participate in the race. They were both runners in the former XTERRA Philly Trail Run Series, which went on hiatus in 2011.
“I was surprised to see so many fast guys and returning XTERRA runners, as I only heard about this race two days prior from Don Morrison (former director of the XTERRA Philly Series),” Schultz said. “Seeing other Philly runners like Dan Dix there made it feel more like the family reunions they used to be.”
Schultz said he enjoyed this race so much that he plans to enter the remaining three races in the 2013 XTERRA Atlantic Series. “Hopefully pull together some more of the old crew and car pool,” he said. “I do like that these races are a tad longer than the previous series. I now primarily focus on ultra distances, so the longer the better.”
Palmer was the top female, finishing with a time of 1:01:12. She also dominated the field, finishing nearly four minutes ahead of the other top women.
“This course was could definitely play to a lot of strengths,” said Palmer, who is from Newark, Delaware. “There were some steep hills where good climbers could really excel, as well as a couple miles of flat section along the creek where strong road runners could pick up speed. I really like hybrid courses like this. The trail conditions were dry but there was a lot of wind that you could really feel when you hit the open field sections. The last mile and a half was especially tough just getting blasted by head wind on the way to the finish!”
Palmer said she entered the race as part of her training for upcoming ultra marathons, and did not realize how big of a gap she had on the other women.
“Most of the women seemed to take the rocky downhill pretty conservatively, while I barreled down, so I think this is where I started my gap,” she explained. “Downhill trail running is my favorite! I didn’t really know how far ahead I was; I was just running my race.”
CLICK HERE TO VIEW COMPLETE RESULTS
The next race in the Atlantic Trail Run Series will be the XTERRA Seneca Creek Trail Run on April 6 at Gaithersburg, Maryland. All races in the series are open to runners of all ages and skill levels. For more information, please visit www.adventuregeekproductions.com.
About the XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series
The XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. In the 2012-13 season, there will be seven races available for runners, with the courses ranging in length from 5 kilometers to 42 kilometers. The top runners in every age group will receive points after each race that will count toward the overall series standings. At the conclusion of the series, each age-group champion will receive a free entry to represent the Atlantic at the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. Atlantic is one of 17 regions hosting an XTERRA Trail Run Series. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Southern California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. To learn more about the Atlantic Series, please visit www.adventuregeekproductions.com.
Inaugural race set for March 9, with three others to follow in 2013
March 4, 2013 – The XTERRA Trail Run Series has hit the trails near the Pacific Ocean for several years. Now it will also make its way to the Atlantic.
The XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series will make its debut next weekend, and the 2013 schedule will bring races to the states of Delaware and Maryland. The new Atlantic Series will feature four races (two in each state) – March 9 at Wilmington, Delaware; April 6 at Gaithersburg, Maryland; May 25 at Bear, Delaware; June 22 at Elkton, Maryland.
Each race in the Atlantic Series is open to runners of all ages and skill levels, from any state. Online registration is available for all four races: ATLANTIC SERIES REGISTRATION.
“Delaware has a strong trail system, ranging from rocky and rooted hilly trails to smooth dirt that is frequented by both runners and mountain bikers,” Atlantic Series director Kristen Thomas said. “Maryland parks are in no shortage, either, as they are all over the place and are all frequently used and raced on. There is a very wide range with the Eastern states presenting some smoother, rolling terrain, and the terrain getting more mountainous as you reach the Appalachian Trail.”
Runners are excited to participate in the Atlantic Series, as it will take them on some of the most scenic – and challenging – trails in the area.
“These races are going to be a great time, that’s for certain,” said Steven Leibowitz, who plans to enter all four events. “Each race promises its own adventure and there are distance options for everyone.”
Each event in the series will offer two course options – one long and one short – to accommodate the various levels of runners. The short course distances will be 5 kilometers; the long course distances will range from 10 kilometers to 42 kilometers.
The top age-group finishers on the long course of each event will be awarded points toward the Atlantic Series, and standings will be updated after each race. At the end of the season, each age-group champion will be awarded a free entry to the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Ogden, Utah, in September.
Leibowitz said he has experience on the Seneca Creek Trail in Gaithersburg, Maryland. “The trail undulates across roots and dirt,” he said. “Not far from the urban sounds of our nation’s capital, this place offers a calm respite to the outside world, and will certainly play host to a challenging and rewarding race experience.”
Leibowitz said he is unfamiliar with the other three courses in the Atlantic Series, but is looking forward to the challenge of a new adventure.
“Not having been to the other three trails makes me both nervous and excited,” he said. “For the locations that will be new to me, there will be plenty of map studying beforehand if I am not able to make it out in advance. The races are likely to be competitive, grueling, and dirty. Sounds like fun to me!”
The Atlantic Series is one of 16 regions across the United States that hosting XTERRA Trail Run events in 2013. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Southern California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Utah.
To enter a race in the Atlantic Series or to learn more about it, please visit www.adventuregeekproductions.com or www.xterratrailrun.com.
2013 XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series
3/9/13 –XTERRA Brandywine Creek Trail Run – Wilmington, DE – 12km/5km – Atlantic Series #1 2013
4/6/13 – XTERRA Seneca Creek Trail Run – Gaithersburg, MD - 10km/5km – Atlantic Series #2 2013
5/25/13 –XTERRA Lums Pond Trail Run – Bear, DE – 10km/5km – Atlantic Series #3 2013
6/22/13 – XTERRA Big Elk Trail Run – Elkton, MD - 42km/21km – Atlantic Series #4 2013