06 April 2019


The Yamacraw 50K is one of the most scenic trail ultras in the southeast. These days, I generally try not to run the same event more than once as there are so many beautiful ultras to run. However, I am currently training to run the 6 oldest 100 milers in the US over the course of this summer, so I needed to find a bunch of "local" 50Ks to use as my weekend long runs. One can only handle so many solo self-supported marathons and 50K runs. While the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, location of the Yamacraw 50K, is still a 4.5 hour drive from home, it was still within somewhat easy driving distance.

I booked a camping spot for the day before the race and drove up Friday afternoon to allow myself time to pick up my packet and set up my camp site in daylight. Drove up, got my race bib, picked up another flat bill trucker hat, headed to my camp site, sat down to eat my dinner and crawled into my rooftop tent to watch the Mötley Crüe film "The Dirt" (Side note: These dudes were definitely a lot crazier than ultra runners:-)

On race morning, runners had to assemble at the location of packet pickup, Heritage Hall in Stearns, KY, to be shuttled to the alternate route start line at the historic Blue Herron Mining Community, which usually only served as the finish line. However, due to severe flooding over the past weeks and months, the original race course had to be rerouted from a point to point course to a single loop course. This made the course slightly shorter than the original route and also seemingly faster as there were a lot more double track and jeep road sections than usual. However, the water crossings were still plentiful.

About 300 runners piled into a bunch of school busses to be shuttled to the race start. The bus ride took about 25 minutes allowing me plenty of time to catch up with another couple of Huntsville runners, Allie Law and David Holliday (yeah yeah, he's a Cinci kid now, but he'll always be a Huntsville runner:-). We arrived at the historic race site and were able to leave a finish line bag with some clothes for after the race. The temps were pretty mild, which made the wait for the actual race start very pleasant. I caught up with another couple of runner friends just before the RD gave the signal to start. We all ran a small half loop through the parking lot before crossing the famous Tram bridge, which would see us crossing it again to reach the finish line a few long hours later.

This year definitely featured a fast field and from the gun, nearly 20 runners took off ahead of me. Having already run 60 miles for the week, I was quite content to run a more conservative pace at the start and see what would happen later on. To be honest, I was afraid my legs would give out on me regardless of my pace. Thankfully, that did not happen. I ended up running most of the day by myself, but did end up running with Alondra Moody for a while, who literally wins every race she runs. She is one hell of a runner and luckily she dragged me along for a few of the latter miles of the race while I was struggling to keep going. Of course, she ended up winning this race as well:-)

Throughout the race, I did manage to gain a few spots here and there, so when it was all said and done and I crossed the finish line, I did manage to squeeze into the top ten. Not quite as good as my fourth place finish 2 years ago, but I am definitely happy with my finish. I do think having serious prize money for top three male and female finishers ($1000/$500/$250) also brought out the best in some of those speed demons that toed the line. Special shoutout and congrats to Tony White, who grabbed second overall and to my buddy Doug Daniel, who finished 2nd overall in the 20K distance. More importantly, congrats to being a new dad, Doug!

This event is still pretty new, but it is already a classic, selling out early even with a much higher runner cap than in previous years. I'm sure the amazing scenery coupled with the prize money will only continue to make this event bigger. Special kudos to the race organizers for creating and selling some of the coolest race swag I've ever seen (and purchased). Both years, I spent a few bucks on some cool new stuff. Camping mugs, buffs, shirts, hats, beanies, they have it all, so be sure to bring your wallet as well as your camera, when you sign up for this event next year. But don't forget to set the reminder on Ultrasignup.com when registration opens or else you'll have to wait two years to run this thing:-)

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