|One of my favorite pictures from the Bangtail Divide 38K course outside of Bozeman, MT.|
I have thought about this idea over the years several times. Recently it has come back into my thinking as I once again train for a rugged, hilly 25K trail race. It is something I call Sub Ultra. Now, let me say this, I'm not necessarily stuck on the name. I'm willing to change it. I am also willing to have any of you tell me the idea is stupid. But let me try to describe it first, and then tell me your thoughts...
|A pic from one of the bluffs/hills at the 2015 Zumbro 17 Miler in MN.|
|Racing on the Continental Divide for 14K outside of Butte, MT.|
Since I have run so many different distances on both roads and trails, I have learned that each distance needs to be respected and each distance is trained for in a different way. My mile on the roads had me training much different than my Vertical K up Killington Mountain. Long run training for a 50K on the trails is so completely different than intervals on the track pursuing a PR/PB in a 5K on the roads.
|Start of the Hardin Hill Run 5K/15K Trail Race I helped direct, September 2015, IA.|
So, what am I really saying? I am not completely sure. That's why putting this down in print is a bit difficult. I guess I am wondering, are there others like me? Do we form a group within a group? Is there a trail and/or road running niche for those of us who enjoy racing the non-standard race distances? Is it Sub Ultra? Non-Standard? Anti-Marathon? (Probably not the last!---I'm not saying we don't race halfs, 5Ks and Marathons, but they aren't my preferences either.)
Is there a group within running, especially trail running, where we are open to all distances as I have been, but prefer the above 5K and less than 26.2 range?
I would love to:
1) Have you give me your thoughts and comments.
2) Ask questions so we can further think about this together.
3) Tell me what your past racing history is like and how it connects to this.
4) Do you think that this is a niche within trail running that is getting overlooked? If so, what do we call this niche? Is it really a niche, or is this what trail running is/was?
Thanks!!! POSTSCRIPT BELOW...
|Finishing a trail 5K with one of my daughters, the day after I raced and PRed in the trail marathon, TNF ECS WI, 2014.|
Postscript, June 24, 2018:
Originally I wrote this piece at the end of May 2018, just a few days before the Inaugural Frost Town 10K/25K race in Naples, NY and held at the Cummings Nature Center. While I haven't had a chance yet to formulate my final thoughts on that race and put them down on the blog, I will say, that once again, the 25K is a great distance and just as hard a challenge as many races that are longer than it. While this one actually ended up being a bit short of 25K, (more like a 22K), it was probably one of the most rugged races I have ever run and that includes the Hardin Hill Run 5K/15K I helped put on in 2015-2016, where we had to cut, carve, and create trail out of the wilderness for one of the hilliest trail races in the area.
As another note, I have a race next week that is described as 5 miles +/-. Not exactly what you'd find at a USATF Certified race!!! I have run this race before, Charlie's Old Goat Trail Run, 2016, and had one of the best racing experiences of 2016.
Yesterday I went out to my local favorite place to run, East Esker Trail, Mendon Ponds Park, and ran a hard 9 miles with over 1300 ft of elevation change. This route is constantly up and down, lots of tripping hazards in places if you are not careful, (I went down for the first time in several months!). Then I came home and signed up for another race there, this year's A Midsummer Night's Trail Madness Half Marathon. (Yeah, I know, it's a half marathon, but that's not important as much as where it's at and what I get to enjoy!)
All this to say, that a month after writing this piece, I am still lingering around the same idea. My races, my training runs, they still seem to be more geared around this idea of sub-ultra distances. That said, I am considering, just considering, an 8 hour race in the Fall. However, if I choose not to do that one, I will probably do my first...30K race! Yeah, another sub-ultra distance I have certainly run, but never raced!
Finally, thanks to all of you, especially on Twitter that replied to me posting about this and giving me your input. I found that several of you shared similar ideas. Many have become enamored of ultra distances, but there are many others just happy to get out for a few hours and enjoy "shorter" distances. As one person noted, when thinking of new races, what is the idea distance? A good question. I know my thoughts, but what about yours?