Location: Mountain Home, Arkansas
Trail Type: Single Track
Host: Pirate Perry Events
Atmosphere: This is a January race in northern Arkansas. The weather could change in a moments notice. 2017 had temperatures get into the 70’s throughout the race; creating overheating issues for some people. Severe rainfall can also create flooding conditions, and cause the course to be rerouted, and icing is always a risk. It is important to pay attention to the weather leading up to this race.
Terrain: Truly the first 10K is the roughest part of the course. The beginning section has the 7K, 25K, and 50K runners all together for a short “lollipop” segment of the course. The trail is single track, but extremely narrow along the edge of Lake Norfolk, this creates severe congestion between the front-of-the-pack runners and the back-of-the-pack runners with two way traffic. The rest of the course is dramatically wide throughout the hills. 5000 feet elevation for the 25K/50K runners, and very few switchbacks. These are predominately straight climbs. Outside of the climbing, the trail is extremely runnable.
Logistics/Aid: There are three primary aid stations for the 50K, and one primarily aid station for the 25K; along with a group of unmanned aid stations that have water. The single aid station makes sense due to the distance being further out to it compared to heading back to the finish. Fully stocked stations means everything that you could need. Several nice people working the stations, but not all have trail running experience. Expect to have to fill up your own hydration container, but be happy if you do not. The event logistics are very smooth, and very laid back. Rocky Chair Resort is HQ for the race, post-race, and if you register early enough; your own cabin as well.
Post Race: To date the best post race I have ever witnessed. Coming through the finish you receive the finishers award; a beer cup. Afterwards you walk over to the local craft beer kegs and fill the cup up. While you are there enjoy pizza, hot dogs, and other assorted food items. Legs feel dead? Somehow this race had a pair of recovery compression leg sleeves, and they are amazing after the race. While you are enjoying the compression sleeves, food, and beer; also check out the live music playing all day. Chill at a picnic table with friends, and just soak up an incredible post race party.
Beginners Luck: If you are running the 25K/50K you need to be prepared for some challenging uphill moments on the course. 5000 feet in elevation gain can catch a lot of people off guard. The 7K is a fun option, but a very short race for those who need something more. The lack of aid stations for the 25K may throw a few runners off, along with the strange Arkansas winter weather. Overall though, not the most difficult course for a first timer.
2016 was a fun race at David’s Endurance. The weather was pleasant for some of us, too hot for others. The overall feel for the race environment though is unbelievable. You will leave this race feeling like you have made a ton of new friends, and you swear you will return the next year. It is a race that a beginner could take on, and likely do very well on their first try. This is only as long as they trained for the uphill sections of the course. Also, while the aid stations have supplies, don’t expect them to be running up to you asking what you need. sufficient is key when running the actual race.