I submitted the following article to UltraRunning magazine recently. Look for results in the April 2014.
Wildcat 50k/50 mile 2013 Race Report
November 10, 2013
For the fourth year of Wildcat, we added a 50 mile option about 6 weeks before the race day. Nearby races were in danger of cancellation due to the October federal Government shutdown, so we thought it would be a good chance to try the longer distance. The other races went forward at a state park venue after some scrambling, but we decided to go ahead with the 50 mile option just to see how it would go over. We have a strong community of local ultra runners, so I figured at least a few hardy souls would try the longer distance on relatively short notice.
A big question was …how long to keep the course open? I had just finished the Glacial Trail 50 mile in Wisconsin a few weeks prior, and 12 hours time limit seemed tight, but doable. In November, the sun rises about 7 am and sets a bit before 5 pm, so the participants would need headlamps for both a 6 am start and perhaps for a finish before 6 pm. Wildcat is a small event, but it is easy to support with two aid stations a start and turnaround of a 10k out and back. Wildcat has around 1500 feet of climb up and down the Mississippi bluffs every loop on runnable single and double track.
We saw more than sixty finishers of an ultra distance at Wildcat on a very fine day with temperatures ranging from the around 30 deg F up to the mid 40’s. Runner discussion during the fall of 2013 included the incredible growth in the sport. I learned of a well respected local 50 mile Midwest event that opened and closed in just a few hours on the same day. Folks are asking for more options, so expanding the field at Wildcat seems reasonable. We don’t advertise widely, figuring folks who are interested will find us. Wildcat is small and friendly, which is how we like it. Getting too large could change what we like.
The good trail conditions allowed fast times in the 50k race, as Adam Condit of Indiana broke the course record at 3:49 by a bit less than five minutes. Second place finisher Eric Payne followed at 4:49. The first two finishers at fifty miles were Neala Arnold and Stacie Latham at 10:10 and 10:34 respectively. All finishers received a good hot meal of BBQ pork, chili, tomato soup , hot apple cider, and their choice of pint jar home brewed wine or beer. The first and second place finishers at 50k/50 mile received a dozen eggs each, complements of the race director’s chickens.
The events raised around $2800 to benefit the Friends of Melpine School, the local charity that provides improvements for Wildcat Den State Park, all in small donations. Wildcat races have raised nearly $8000 towards building a playground at the park since starting in 2010.
Great day, great friends.
Link to really raw results- scans of the finisher pages here.
The fourth Wildcat 50k and first Wildcat 50 mile had between 150 and 175 runners throughout the day. Many came just to walk or run, without writing down names and dropped a donation in the ice cream bucket. I have many photos to share, and just a bit of time this morning.
We raised around $2800 for the friends of Melpine School, to benefit the park and the playground project. This puts us near $8000 in four years. I need to talk to the Friends about the project as we get closer to goals on seed money.
We had more than fifty - 50k finishers, four 50 mile finishers and a few at distances between. This numbers of finishers is up. First place of the 50k was Adam Condit, at what might be our course record....I'll check. First place 50 mile is Neala Arnold. First and second place in the fifty mile were females.
A shout of thanks to all the volunteers, particularly my wife Suzanne for the food and home made head gear. Those were very popular...and we still have some for sale. CatWraps (TM) $10 and headbands $5.
Many thanks to our volunteers, some like Mike and Mikael, Danelle and Jeremy stayed all day. Thanks to MaDonna, Sue and Alma for bringing hot food. The chili and potato soup went well. Nancy S. and Mike S. for staffing aid stations most of the day.
Appreciate our course support...photographers Mark Stegmaier, Phil Pancrazio. Make sure you talk to them about your photography needs. Course setup by Amber, Mark, Joe, Danelle and Jeremy. Course take down by Jeremy C.
A shout to our sponsors - Bark Chiropractic of Muscatine, Amber Spring Massage Moline, MidCoast Clothing of the QC. Much thanks to Paul Schmidt (50k finisher) and support from Cornbelt Running Club for race equipment.
I am sure I have missed a few....Great support from the QC Hash House Harriers who showed up in great numbers. The Muscatine Running Friends were well represented.
More detailed race results and photos soon. It's a work week and the truck still isn't unpacked.
A few last minute thoughts while getting ready for Wildcat.
Where is Wildcat? In Iowa. On the Mississippi. Between Muscatine and Davenport off IA 22. See map below.
When does it start? 6 am for the fifty mile, but it's ok to start your 50k then. Bring a watch. I'll take the group photo and start the clock for the 50k at 730 am as usual.
We will have head gear made by my wife Suzanne for sale with race logo and sponsors. Tubular headscarf - think Buff's - are ten dollars. Head bands are five dollars
How do I make out my checks? Friends of Melpine School. This race is a donation supported event. All proceeds are tax deductible...the Friends are a 501c3. Proceeds go towards building a playground in park. We are more than half way to the goal of $10,000 seed money going into our fourth Wildcat.
Will I got lost, or eaten? No. Are trails dangerous? Only if you fall.
Met this fellow Josh Seehorn on the way back from Wildcat setup today. He is raising money and awareness for the American Discovery Trail by running its length from California to Connecticut. He's heading east and north, into the late fall and winter, with hopes of finishing early next year. Check out his blog below.
*The Menu* Still welcome to bring food to share or donations. Paper cups.....could really use a few to bring paper cups. Or the plastic red solo cups if you insist on authenticity.
You might have to run in order to partake. Or be wracked with guilt if not. You can walk to. Dogs are welcome. Cats too, for extra excitement.
---- Chili with beef Tomato soup (vegetarian, gluten free, but has butter) Beef BBQ (grazed beef, who lived a happy stress free life, and bravely walked into a stock trailer with heads held high) Hot dogs Bacon (hogs who were even happier than the beef) Potato soup Oyster crackers, saltine crackers Cupcakes Bananas Apples Tortillas withmeat and cheese Tail mix, assorted
Coffee Water Gatorade Hot cider, unleaded Amber ale, hard cider, mead, rhubarb wine, other assorted grown up beverages -Larry
A few weeks ago, some local races at the 50 mile distance were in doubt because they happen on federal land. The congressional tantrums of October 2013 put that in doubt, but the races were relocated to state parks and went ahead.
That sparked some conversations about a 50 mile option for Wildcat. So....I decided to go ahead and try it this year.
Update 10/19/13 We are going to try a 50 mile option this year. Start time is 6 am. Cutoff time is 6 pm. 12 hours total. 50 miles is 8 laps plus 1 mile out and back to the bottom of the stone steps. I'll mark this. You are welcome to come and do 50k, 60k, 70k, 80k or 50 miles. Bring a head lamp for both the beginning and end. I'll be there. Bring a watch to keep track of your own time. I'll start the clock at 7:30 am for the 50k, but will keep it running until 6 pm or last runner, whichever comes first. -Larry
Link to updated flyer about 50 mile option here.
The 50k is unchanged...starting at 7:30 am.
We will have more hot beverages, chili, tomato soup, bacon and pulled pork this year.
Some races boast of their fabulous prizes and entry merchandise.
All I can show you is a good time, good company and home made food and drink.
We are still a "real race." I publish your results based on what you plausibly write down.
Honor system. I trust you. The stakes are quite modest.
I wrote this on the drive back home from Wyoming, but have been busy with combating weeds, feeding livestock and a score of other things since I returned. I sit down with a class of rhubarb wine, and a vow to finish the blog tonight.
Bighorn 100 - June 14-15, 2013
After the muscle soreness recedes, but before the endorphins
fade. That is the time to reflect on an
experience. Sitting in the rear seat as
we head east across South Dakota and Minnesota with Joe and Dave, I started thinking
back to when I found out about the Bighorn Wild and Scenic Trail Run.
For lack of more productive things to do, I’m informally
working through the list of Hardrock 100 qualifiers, on a just finish and enjoy
the ride basis. Some are more competitive
to get into than others, requiring qualification via other races or lottery or
both. The larger, more famous mountain hundreds like Western States have such popular
interest, that your chances are about ten percent in any given year for
entry. The sport is getting more
interest, as we crest the second running boom.
UltraRunning magazine said a while back that 10,000 people finished an
ultra in 2002. Ten years later the number
was more than three times that.
The Bighorns are in north central Wyoming, near the town of
Sheridan. About 20,000 people in the
nearest town of several hundred miles in each direction. High prairie, ranch lands that receive 15
inches of rain a year. The Bighorns are
east of Yellowstone and west of the South Dakota Badlands, just south of the
Montana border. When we arrived in mid-June, there were still patches of snow
in the valleys over 8000 ft. This is not
the relatively wet Sierras of California, with perhaps 50 inches of snow a year,
as opposed to the hundred plus of the coast.
Bighorn Wild and Scenic Trail Run has a surprising number of
both participants and distances. The
race includes Saturday 30k, 50k, and 50 miles, and a Friday-Saturday 100
mile. The hundred milers start at 11 am
on Friday morning, which is both good and bad.
You get a very good night of sleep, but you have WAY too much time to
linger and stand around before the start.
This puts the initial climb of about 4000 feet in the first 10 miles in
the early afternoon, with the sun overhead.
Race support is great.
We met local folks who recently moved to Sheridan area from the midwest,
and enjoyed a bit of an expo in the large downtown running store The Sports
Stop. Weigh in and blood pressure check
are the extent of the medical evaluation.
Blood pressures were running a bit toward the high side with the
altitude and pre-race jitters according to medical staff.
Race starts about three miles north of Dayton along the
Tongue River Canyon Road. The canyon
narrows as you ascend the road, with vertical rock faces rising a thousand feet
overhead. The road ends about 5 miles
into the canyon from Dayton, and the trail continues up and over the divide on
The initial climb seems relentless, ascending from 4000 feet to 7500 feet first up the
Tongue River, and then along the Sheep Creek drainage, cresting the ridge at
Horse Creek. The single track is
runnable, particularly on the downhill return.
The first aid station is Lower Sheep Creek at mile 3.5 feet, followed by
Upper Sheep Creek at the top of the ascent.
Considering my relaxed pace, I figured two hand bottles was enough for
this event. Flatlander drinking 20 to
40 ounces of water every 2-3 hours seems about right for the dry air, more in
the places where there is open exposure.
Miles 2 to 6 approximately are under tree cover until you break into the
open range land of high altitude meadow and grass.
As a farming family from the Midwest, it struck me that the
livestock fence at the top of the Tongue River Canyon was not in good repair. Signs saying “Close the gate” when there is
no gate is a good sign of that. My guess
is that the economics of cattle or sheep at the remote high altitudes is a bit
of a gamble, and finding cowboys or shepherds to stay with the stock while on
the range is a bit of a hard job description to fill. I don’t know much of the local environmental
opposition to livestock grazing, but the problem seems to be solving
itself. Bighorn sheep may again someday
rebound as herds of domestic sheep are kept at low altitude.
Once over the Horse Creek Ridge, runners descend into the
first major aid at the head of Dry Fork Creek, one of many place names that
will stick on my head for a while. Dry Fork is accessible by crew and vehicle,
but a high clearance four wheel drive is a good idea for any ascent off
pavement in the Bighorns. After the
crest at Horse Creek, the run is on a succession of fire roads and gravel roads
into the Dry Fork Aid at mile 13.
After Dry Fork, the run continues to descent gradually on
fire roads and jeep trails to Kern’s Cow Camp at Mile 19. “Stock Tank” is listed as a water stop along
around mile 23, and stock tank it is indeed.
Stock tank is a pipe into a large plastic stock tank with a leak. “It’s
good water” they said at the pre-race briefing.
Ummm….it’s a stock tank. I’ll let
the animals have first dibs.
Stock Tank seems a bit off on the mileage, perhaps only 20
minutes run from Kern’s Cow Camp. The
race guide listed the distance as four miles, and I am not that fast. The bacon at Kern’s Cow Camp was welcome on
outbound and inbound legs.
Once past Stock Tank, the course runs on fire roads until
about mile 24, and begins a gradual then very steep descent into Footbridge at
mile 30. The course is single track,
with thickening groves of pines and then leafy tress as you descend. This is the area of maximum descent, with
single track that could be muddy, and has been churned up by horses quite a
The views in the descent into the Little Bighorn Valley are
worthwhile. Take a moment to enjoy. Open vistas and every steeper rock walls,
layers of orange, red and yellow sedimentary rock , with darker granites mixed
in. The race is under tree cover mostly
between miles 24 and 30.
The course steers north almost to the Montana border at
Footbridge Aid Station. Crew access is
via a long round about trip of more than an hour or two through the Crow Indian
reservation. “Don’t leave your car un-attended on the reservation” was the
advice from the pre-race briefing.
By the time I was leaving Footbridge, shadows were deepening
into the late afternoon. The trail from Footbridge at mile 30 to Jaws Trailhead
turnaround at mile 48 is exclusively single track, and exclusively,
relentlessly uphill. The climb is from
5000 ft to 9000 ft, and includes the most rugged and remote parts of the
course. An advantage the 50 mile runners
have is being able to see this during the day.
Most of the hundred mile people in the back half of the race get to enjoy
the night sky.
This is a slow part of the race due to trail
conditions. From around mile 40 to mile
56, the course was a mud bog. Snow in
the high altitudes was still melting, leaving the trail a mire. Picking the least worst path seem to occupy a
lot of the time. The trail is well
marked, but it did seem to be a good idea to stay in groups of two or more into
Turn around at Jaws Trail aid was a well stocked, heated
tent accessible just a few miles off of paved road. Some of the best advice was given at the
pre-race briefing. Don’t change your
socks at Jaws aid. They will just get
wet again on the trip back down to Footbridge.
By the time we were coming into Footbridge on the return leg
at mile 66, I was ready to pick up my pacer Dave. I had been on my feet for more than 20 hours,
and was starting to get a little clumsy.
With help from friends, I did a full service pit stop at Footbridge,
changing shoes, socks and shirt. I
highly recommend washing as much of the trail dirt off as possible here. You can get to the finish line without too
much mud from Footbridge inbound.
The steep climbs back to Bear Hunting camp at mile 70 seemed
to drag on forever. Six miles took three
hours of slow, tenacious effort of keeping the heart rate under control. By the time you reach the low 70’s, the fire
roads start to make running possible, but the heat of the second day and
general fatigue start to take a toll. My
advice is to run whenever you can, taking advantage of the open spaces on fire roads. Walk the single track ascents, being careful
to avoid tripping on rocks.
The course is mostly sandy soils that drain well after
rains. Stones are sharp, mostly from
recent falls, with little rounding from rainfall. Wear some type of tall socks to keep the
brush back. Leaves of all types are out
in the Bighorn in June.
You can see Cow Camp at mile 76 and Dry Fork at mile 83 from
far off. The day was bright and
cloudless, and I got a full dose of wind and sun. Sunscreen, lip balm and some sort of head
covering were essential. Managing water
intake during the daylight hours, with the dry arid sun baking down is
critical. I was drinking one 20 oz
bottle of water every 90 minutes on average through the event, with more water
by day, and less by night.
Coming out of Dry Fork and through Upper Sheep at mile 88,
the final ascent on single track to Horse Creek Ridge began. There was a group of us together in a long
conga line heading up the slope on the north side of the ridge, heads
down. After getting to the top, one of
the girls said “Let’s flip this thing off”, so the top of the last climb got a
succession of middle fingers extended high.
The views from the final high point got a few panoramic
pictures during the descent. I think
it’s essential to run the descent from the ridge down past the Lower Sheep Aid
at mile 92.5 and the Tongue River aid at mile 95. The urge to walk is high, but the down hill
speed is essential even with a generous 34 hour cutoff. Most of this section is under tree cover
after mile 92 to mile 95, as you get to see the Tongue River valley from the
opposite way. Take a few pictures as the
trail hugs the valley walls and twists and turns for what seems forever.
When you can see the small foot bridge over the Tongue River,
you know you are getting to the end of the descent. There is aid at mile 95 and 97.5, making this
just about the most well supplied mountain hundred I have ever done. I am used to carrying three or even four 20
oz bottles for distances of 10-15 miles between aid. No more than 6-7 miles between aid at
The last four miles are downhill into the town of
Dayton. This is a bit cruel. It is downhill slightly, but there is little
shade once you leave the narrow Tongue River Valley. Take a little time to look at high plains
farming, with canals and irrigation growing mostly hay for livestock. Popcicles fom the aid at mile 97.5 were truly
Looking around every bend finally revealed the bridge into
Dayton over the Tongue River, finally ending in a small park at the river’s
edge. Through the finisher’s line, and
sitting down on a park bench, not wanting to move. That was my race end. I wanted a burger, a shower and a beer in
Wildcat 50k 2013 finally has a flier. I haven't changed much. All runners two and four legged are welcome to run any distance up to 50k. It's a real race. I record your results and publish results in UltraRunning Magazine.
My training schedule is heavy this year, so I am not going to change the formula. It works. I will be out there running with you. You don't have to think about training for this. Just show up, shut up, hang on and run.