Sunday, May 9, 2010

Free State Trail Marathon ~ Race Ratings KS (#29)

Tagline: "A Course from Hades with Angels for race directors!!"

Lawrence, KS ~ Clinton Lake Trails
Year Running: 4th!
Registration Fee: $60 ($80 late, $100 last minute, until they hit the 200 Participant Max)
Runners:  98 Completed,  37 Females (116 started)
Available Races: Marathon, 40 Miles, 100K
Average Finish Time: 5:56:01
BQ %: N/A

Overall Race Rating (weighted): 4.5/5.0

Average Calculated Rating: 4.45/5.0
~ This is a great race with wonderful organization-- a true trail marathon with wonderful runners and directors. The course would be equally as wonderful if it hadn't become my "course from hades" following rain storms all week. The course was slippery and muddy and very challenging. But the volunteers on the course with their wonderful stops full of goodies definitely helped to make up for it.

Race Director: Let's play race director...
~ The one controllable aspect of this race that could possibly be changed would be putting mile markers on the course. Marking a course is challenging, but it was nearly impossible to tell how far you had gone, even with a garmin (satellite pick-up is bad on trail races). I would mark out at least every few miles. There isn't much to do about the extremely muddy conditions, except possibly moving the race to  a less rainy month-- possibly March or June?

Event Organization: 4.8/5.0 (now broken into 2 parts, see below as well) As far as "event organization" we'll go ahead and include things like Host hotel, website use, ease of travel to the event and to the actual race, etc.
Distance from Airport to Expo/Race: 45 Min
Rental Car Required: YES!
~ This isn't the easiest race to get to, but the trail is definitely worth the trip. I felt very comfortable with the organization when I started receiving weather updates from a few days out before the race up until the night before. This is especially a concern because the race saw some crazy tornado-weather last year. They also let us know what to do when faced with dangerous weather. There was plenty of communication leading up to the race. The website and sign-up was very basic and easy. I was very happy to see that there are showers located near the race start/finish that are free to use... and HOT! YES!!! Following this sticky-clay mud, that was wonderful!
Race Organization: 4.8/5.0
Hydration Color/Type: Water and Electrolyte Drink (Succeed), and soda (mt dew), etc
Gel Type/Flavors:  Varied- GU/Hammer in Many flavors!
~ This race had wonderful organization. The hydration stops were FULLY stocked with water & electrolyte drink as well as candy, cookies, gu's, mnt. dew... anything you could need! Bathrooms weren't an issues, can hey! we're in the woods-- rest rooms are everywhere! This group is VERY dog friendly, going as far as giving the dogs their own bibs and results! (extra points in my book). There weren't any mile markers, which was a little bit of an issue because our garmins don't work very well in the woods. There were, however, very knowledgable staff working the water stops that would help you with anything you needed-- even cleaning the mud and gunk off your water bottles! If there wasn't room for a full water stops, there were water jugs available every few miles and the course was surprisingly VERY well marked for a trail race.
~Post Race Food: Upon finishing the race there is a crew of people to get you anything you need for food. They had a little bbq going on with burgers. They also had sliced potatoes, cookies, pretzels, candy, fruit... VERY well stocked! The aid stations were stocked VERY similarly with all sorts of cookies, candy, sliced potatoes (whats up with those??), soda, etc.
Course: 4.0/5.0
~MarathonGuide Rating

Garmin Distance: N/A
~ Umm did you not read the post race thoughts? Course from HADES! Ok, ok, to be fair, this would actually be an AMAZING course if it weren't for the rain! The course is an awesome single-track trail with no major hills, but a ton of switchbacks and a lot of roller-coaster type hills. There are also a few areas with slick rock as well as 2 places where we cross a stream that (for us < 5'3) came up over our knees. Beware here-- I actually saw a 100K runner-girl fall flat into the stream. The start of the race is ~ a 3M loop that brings you back to the start. The 3 miles is an open area cutting through a wide weedy lawn then onto a wide trail. This was a nice way to start a mostly single-track trail so we all didn't get caught up and have difficulty passing.

If this course was moved out of the rainy-months it would be absolutely amazing-- then again there is no way to guarantee a non-rainy week and these "Running Nerds" seem to LOVE their Mud!
Spectators: 3.5/5.0
~ There were very few places spectators could watch from this course! The few places spectators were able to get to, they were very excitable! They told me how far we had gone and how far to go (if they knew) and cheered like crazy!

Pace Group: /5.0
~ N/A
Runner/Corrals: 5.0/5.0
~ I'm always surprised at just HOW nice trail AND ultra runners are! I've only been in a few and every time the runners are so outgoing and so friendly on and off the course. Single track trails can be difficult to pass on (esp in a mud pit with little footing) but every runner I approached actually stopped and moved off the trail into weeds to let other runners pass. After the race, I had a chance to speak with another woman who I had seen during the race and had to drop out. During the race, the 3rd place woman and I went back and forth a bit and after she said good job!

Expo: 4.7/5.0
~ Garry Gribbles Running Spot was the location of the packet pick-up. At first site from outside it looks a little eaahhh, but once inside it's a great spot for running gear! ... or anything other running needs!
Swag: 4.3/5.0
~T-Shirts: This race had a nice blue short sleeve techt with the marathon logo on it. It fits and feels great. 4.5
~Medals: The medal also had the logo on it-- bright big and fun. 3.8
~ Goodie Bag: Our packets and T-shirts also came with a sweet mug and sticker/decal with the marathon logo. +.2
Time: 4:22:27
Place: Overall Teams 13/98~ Gender 2/37~ Division N/A


  1. sounds like a great trail race! Congrats on othe marathon completed

  2. I'm SOOO behind on reading blogs, but I'm really glad to see you are still running strong with your 50 states quest! I'll see you in Chicago!

  3. B.E.A.S.T.!!!!! Great job....