Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fourth Running New River Trail 50km, 10/8/2011

"1 minute warning!" before race start. Photo courtesy of Joel Pulliam
 This year we had 123 entrants and 105 starters on this cool, foggy, early autumn morning on the banks of the New River. If my figuring is correct 70 of the 123 registered were 1st time ultrarunners. There were 77 male starters and 27 female starters. 99 runners finished within the 7 hour time limit.

View of New River from race start. Photo courtesy of Joel Pulliam
 As in year’s past, staff from New River Trail State Park were hugely helpful with logistics, setting up aid stations and finish line area and providing transportation for our volunteers who worked the “no vehicle access", Fries Junction aid station. The community of Fries was supportive and the local women’s group cooked up gallons of soup, dozens of loaves of homemade sourdough bread and stacks of cookies for  a lite post-run lunch.
VA Park Service Staff day before race
This year we got to use their fancy new clock!
Ranger Patrick is in charge of the South end of New River Trail State Park
John Batchelor, 36 years old from Rocky Mount, NC was the male champion with a time of 3:42:30. I do believe this was John’s first ultra win! Congratulations John!  He had the 10th fastest time ever run on this course. Following John was 1st masters, David Honea, 42 of Boone, NC, closely followed by Nick Whitehead, 33 of Bluefield, VA.
Nick at the Cliffview turnaround (photo courtesy of Nick)

Trail view, taken mid morning. Photo courtesy of Joel Pulliam

Chestnut Yard aid station #2 and #4. Photo courtesy of Joel Pulliam. (That's him-the runner in blue!)
 Women’s champion was Laura Maclean, 43 of Willow Spring NC, with the 8th fastest female time on this course: 4:16:49. She was followed by Lydia Odell, 42 of Brevard, NC and Kara Lemon, 32 of Charlottesville, VA with times of 4:23:44 and 4:25:20, respectively. Full results are now posted on UltraSignup:

A special shout on to Kara for holding the spirit of being “green”. For this race we minimize disposables, use local products when possible and purchase and are sponsored by company’s that have a demonstrated record of responsible practices. Runners were informed that each aid station would have 70 paper cups, and when the were gone…they’re gone. Most runners carried packs or hand held bottles.

…Back to Kara. At the conclusion the race, I heard about a young “fast girl” who carried around a squished paper cup to each of the aid stations, reusing her paper cup until at last the folks at the last aid station made her take a new one! Thank you to Kara and many, many other runners who took to heart our efforts at minimizing trash during this race.

Though I mentioned the placing above of just the top 3 men and women there were many amazing performances out there, one’s that because I get to share in them, even in a small way, remind me of the utter privilege of race directing!

One runner, and I won’t use her name, as I haven’t asked permission, was in a serious car wreck a couple of years ago. She had to relearn how to talk and walk and take care of herself. This was her return to ultrarunning for the first time since her accident. I know she had a wonderful day out there and I am thrilled for this awesome lady!
This year's optional shirts
 Though, with last week being the 4th edition of NRT 50k, we continue to evolve, while holding onto the ideals of quality, “green”, affordable, fair and friendly. I do not come from a back ground of road racing, which seems to have very different norms in regard to swag and age group awards. I also realize that NRT 50k is attracting more and more 1st time ultrarunners-which is certainly a joy, yet leaves me a bit in a dilemma.
A view of our living room floor, night after the race. Even the cat went into hiding!
Runners are asking for finishers medals and finishers shirts and to keep track of age groups. Some ask for additional categories of age groups awards. I know runners are very proud of finishing their first ultra (and I am the 1st to applaud everyone),I respect runners for asking for what they want and sharing what matters to them, yet at the same time stay within what I value as a race designer and race director.

I wonder what other’s think? I am not a bit put-off by these requests, in fact, I like it that I am approachable and folks feel free to give critical feedback. If anyone has any experiences or thoughts about what I am pondering, I would love to hear!

This year was another year of fabulous weather, talented and passionate runners, supporters and many dedicated volunteers. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the race.  Put 10/13/2012 on your calendar for the next edition!


Chad R. said...

Annette, another great race! This is my fourth of four NRT50k races and I plan to run them for as long as I can. In 2008 NRT was my second ultra and since then I've completed a handful of 50-milers and a couple of 100-milers.

I love the fact that ultras are generally low-key events and place little emphasis upon how a runner places. I have two drawers full of generic awards and finishers' medals. My ultra finishers' awards I cherish greatly, as they're usually the result of hard work and training, often with the possibility of not finishing. Also, ultra awards often serve a dual purpose, with the addition of practicality. For instance, I use my NRT pottery every day as a coffee cup. Try that with a medal!

So keep up the good work. Looking forward to next year.

Kim said...

Hi Annette, I have only heard good things about your race.
About finisher awards, age groups, and such..
As ultra runners, we really don't have those. In ultra running, it's more about 'finishing' your race, not beating other people.
It looks like you are giving a nice tech shirt, which first timers like, and some kind of finishing award?
I work with several ultras in Ohio (Forget the PR 50K, YUTC) and we don't have AG awards. The "Forget the PR" race has actual buckles, and YUTC is old school; you get a handshake and a decal for your vehicle when you finish.
So, I think, as first time ultra runners, or road runners coming over to the 'dirty side' of running, they need to see how mellow we are about hardware. It's more about the physical finish the runner does, than any bling they can bring home.

annette bednosky said...

Chad and Kim,
Thank you so much for your thoughts. I feel similarly,and have given years of my medals (with the exception of 12 of the 60+ I accumulated) to Medals for Mettle (an organization that reuses runners medals to award developmently challenged athletes to meet a goal0 For me, a certified time (and maybe a photo) is record enough...
Yet I do know, for some folks a trophy or medal is the symbol of accomplishment...and I will continue to consider to include or not? NRT 50km will learn, evolve and grow into the best it can be in 2012!

Rob French said...

Annette- I've run the New River Trail 50k the last two years. I hope you won't change much (but do appreciate you asking for feedback in an effort to always improve). I love that is a low cost, green event at a great time of year in a beautiful location. We've been lucky to have great weather the last two years but to start the race as the fog is lifting off the New River to early October in VA can't be beat. For the low cost of registration I got: sweet patagonia long sleeve tech shirt, nathan hand held bottle (or as Chad said nice piece of pottery used every day), montrail water bottle, ultra magazine, montrail tee shirt door prize, a soak in the cold water of the New River, and some killer homemade veggie soup, breads and cookies. In addition to all this I got a PR that beat my time from 1978! Ultra runners love NRT 50k.

Perfume said...

Really cool blog post

Joel said...

Annette - this was my first ultra and I wouldn't ask you to change a thing. As for hardware, I love the pottery tumbler: not only is it beautiful and practical, but it is locally made. To me, it reflects the values of the race, and it makes me much happier than a medal stamped out in a factory somewhere. I hope to add to my NRT pottery collection in years to come!

Jimbo said...

Thanks to you, and all of the wonderful volunteers -- I had a blast. My write up is here if you are interested:

I really can't thing of much you could or should change, it is a wonderful event as it is (I expand on my opinion on the blog).

Thanks again for everything. See you next year!


Stephen said...

Hi, Annette. I'm going to run on the New River Trail near Galax on Saturday. Curious as to what type of shoes you'd recommend: trail, or road? Thanks, Stephen

Nice blog!

annette bednosky said...

My preference would be a lightweight trail shoe-yet honestly either will do fine-
There is little gravel or rocks...maybe some mud and sticks. Certainly a beefy mountain type shoe is not necessary!
Have a great run!

Stephen said...

Thanks, Annette. I guess, then, that I'll probably wear my Mizuno Wave Ascends or Hoka Mafates (as opposed to the Asics Kayanos I use on the roads). Both work pretty well for me on single-tracky terrain (though the Hokas *kinda* make me nervous on single track). The Mizunos are probably lighter duty than what you're referring to as "beefy" mountain shoes and I guess opinions differ pretty wildly on what the Hokas are appropriate for ... if anything! I'm leaning toward the Mizunos.


Stephen said...

Thanks, Annette. I think I'll opt for my lighter-duty trail shoes, then. Planning to do around 20, out and back from Galax. Kind of a longish "marathon pace" run. Planning to do the 50k next year ... eager to check out the New River Trail!