As I have previously mentioned, the Lake Martin 100 & 50 is the ideal first 100 or 50 miler. Each 25 mile loop has 4 aid station stops, two at Butterfly Crossing at miles 7.26 and 13.18 and two at The Cabin Aid Station (start/finish) at miles 18.12 and 25.09. Because the entire 25 mile loop is serviced by only two aid station and both accept drop bags, planning is about as easy as it gets. And, we accept larger than normal drop bags.
This first segment is on Ultrarunning in general. I talk about how I would train and the things I would do at any ultra, 50K to 100 miles. The second segment applies specifically to the Lake Martin Course.
Ultrarunning in General
My Disclaimer: The following training information is offered as an example of what works for me and nothing more. It may or may not work for you. It consists of the training schedules I use and techniques, supplies, equipment, etc that I like and use. You may want to try some of them or all or none. The 16 week training program for a marathon is not my schedule. It is a widely used and accepted method that has proven to be very successful for years. Remember, if you can run a marathon, you can run a 50K.
There are four major components to successfully completing the Lake Martin 100 or 50 mile trail race. They are, in order of importance:
1. Training 2. Staying Hydration 3. Staying Fueled 4. Proper Pacing
If you haven't done enough training, nothing else really matters, you will likely not finish no mater how well you do everything else on the list. If you are properly trained and do not stay hydrated you have almost no chance of finishing. You can take your time and re-hydrate, but it will be very costly. If you don't stay fueled you will "Bonk." Again, you can recover but it takes a while and you loose a lot of time. Pacing is a little less critical to finishing unless you go out at a marathon pace (Way too fast.) In that case you will die 20 to 25 in. You simply cannot go on. If you run too slow, you will finish, unless you go so slow you miss a cutoff. Your time may not be as fast as you could have run, but in your first ultra or your first 50 or 100 mile race, finishing should be your primary goal. Work on speed later.
Running a 100 is like nothing you have ever done. There are no comparisons. You will probably find that a 50 mile race is much more difficult than a 50K or marathon. For one thing, the average runner will be on the trail anywhere from 8 to 12 hours in a 50 Mile race. That is a long time to run. Staying fueled and hydrated becomes a critical issue. You may have serious bouts of fatigue, cramps, stomach distress or just loose the will to go on. There is a rule in ultrarunning. Always remember it, "Just Keep Moving." That is the key to finishing. There is another quote that should also be remembered, "The Pain Will Pass". Remember these two sayings. They make a good mantra.
A suggestion before jumping into Ultrarunning: Trying to run an ultra before you are ready can be very frustrating and very painful as can trying to run a marathon before you have adequately trained. Before you attempt your first ultra, run a marathon or two. (If you have never run a marathon, run a few 10K and maybe a 1/2 Marathon first.) Once you have a marathon or two under your belt, you should have no trouble with a 50K or the Lake Martin 27. It is a good idea to have run several 50Ks before running that first 50 Miles. Likewise, it is also wise to run a 50 Mile or two before attempting a 100 Mile. That said, one of our runners in the Lake Martin 50 in 2012, finished the 50 mile and had never run a race longer that a 10K. I ran my my first 100 having only run two 50K and no 50 Miles. The key is training. If you want to run a 50 or 100 mile race you had better run a lot of training miles.
Training: Any time you are training for your first ultra the single most important factor is time. If you do not have time to train properly the race will likely be a frustrating experience. If you try to push your training faster the schedules in the outline suggest you may not even be able to run the race after all that work due to an injury. It is critical to increase your distance at a slow metered pace. Before attempting a 50 or 100 mile race it is also important to have lots of hours on trails learning how to stay hydrated and fueled without getting sick. Believe me, this takes practice. At this point I am training for my 7th 100 mile race and I still make mistakes in almost every race or find out what I thought was the perfect answer is not.
Go to this link for training guidelines:
If you are training for your first Ultra, the Lake Martin 27, 50 mile or 100 Mile Races you can use these training schedules to prepare. The top schedule if for experienced ultra runners training for the 100. Schedule 1, 2 & 3 are for those preparing for their first ultra. Schedule 4 starts with a 3 hour weekend training run and will take you all the way to either the 50 mile or 100. Training or the Lake Martin 100.
If you would like to start training for the Lake Martin 27 mile race or the Run for Kids Challenge 50K, follow the link below to the 16 week training program and decide wether the 16 or 20 week program will work best for you. The 16 week schedule requires running 4 days each week. The 20 week program is for those that can only run 3 days each week. Next, determine where you are in your training today. If you are not able to accomplished the runs outlined in the first week of the training program then your first goal is to build up mileage so you can run the first week level of training. A very good starter program if you are new to running is the C25K program.
I will use the 16 week program as an example. Sixteen weeks out from the race you want to be able to jump right into the schedule at week This is the widely accepted, 16 or 20 week training program for running a Marathon. (There are the same schedules used in the link above.) Most people I know just don't have time to train 4 days per week. This 3 day program is the way I have trained most of my life and I frequently can't manage to squeeze in even 3 days. Follow the schedule and increase the mileage according to schedule. Resist the temptation to run longer and rush the schedule. As mentioned before, the result can be overuse injuries or just overtraining . One of the key elements to finishing any ultra is "Long Training Runs." This is where you train your body to keep moving for hours. The long runs are also where you learn how to stay hydrated and figure out what food you can tolerate in your stomach while running. Here is a link to my Blog Page about Fueling for the Long Race or Training Run and another link to a recent post on Hydration in an Ultra. (The post on Hydration follows the race report on the Grindstone 100.)
Pacing cannot be quantified because there are no two people that will pace themselves the same way. There will be those that finish at exactly the same time as you in a race, but you may have never seen them the entire race until the finish. There are others that you will pass and be passed by throughout the event, yet finish at almost exactly the same time. At the Tahoe Rim Train 100, in 2011, a man wearing pink gaiters passed me just before the first aid station. He then disappear in the distance. I passed him in a while, then he passed me again. I kept passing him in aid stations (I do not hang out at aid stations) and a little later he would pass me again. This continued all day and all night. Over night I loaned him a flashlight because his was going out and he kept getting off course. Five miles from the finish I came up behind him again and we ended up racing the final 5 miles. He finally stopped about a mile before the end and I passed him one final time and finishing about 15 minutes ahead of him. You will run with people for hours, then they will take off or slow never to be seen again. The real important issue is run at your own pace. Never allow others to dictate you pace. That is, just because you have followed someone for a while and they speed up, don't stay with them unless the pace is comfortable. You will determine what is a comfortable pace in those long training run.
It is easy to get carried away early in an ultra and start out to fast. Most runners do. This is not a problem so long as you recognize what your are doing and slow down. You will also frequently find yourself stuck behind a long line of slower runners on a single track section of trail early in a race. Don't panic and think you have to get around all of them so you don't loose too much time. Take your time. It is almost impossible to pass a group on narrow trails and can waste a lot of energy. Wait for a wider section or at least an easy place to start passing. It can take several miles of single track to pass 10 or 12 runners. Aid stations are excellent places to pass the group. Get in and out in a hurry. Actually, get in and out of every aid station in a hurry. You can loose hours in aid station in a 100 mile race.
I often start a little faster than I plan to run. I hold that faster pace a mile or two and as soon as I start feeling that I are going a little too fast, start to slow down. When someone comes up behind, ask if they would like by. If they say yes, ease to the side of the trail and slow to allow them by. In difficult terrain, I step of the trail and stop to let them by. Often, they will say no and just sit behind you a while. When a runner comes up behind me I always assume they are faster than I am, so I ask them to let me know when they are ready to pass. This is just common courtesy and early in an ultra it will have no effect your final time. After a few hours everyone will scatter and the packs of runners just go away. Passing one or two people later in the race is never a problem.
Running the Lake Martin 100, 50 and 27
The following information is applicable to all three races. The course is very easy to run. There are hills but all trails are runnable with absolutely no technical sections. There are a lot of roots but not too many rocks and most of the climbs are gentle. Many of the faster 27 mile runners will run the entire course and not even bother to walk up the hills. Several miles of each loop are on single track trails that follow the shoreline or traverse the hillside above Lake Martin. Also, several miles of each loop or on the "Big Way Trail," a broad, wide roadway/trail that cars are never allowed to drive on. This is a great place to gain some time. The interior trails often follow creeks or climb over beautiful wooded ridges.
The only appreciable climb is up to Heaven Hill on the Heavenly Hill Loop Trail. That climb starts out gently then turn up abruptly as you enter the single track tail. It climbs 259 in just under one mile. As you emerge from the woods at the top, take a moment to look around. The view is beautiful.
Average temperatures are 46 to 70. The record high is 92 and record low is 20. As we get within a week of the race, check with the Weather Channel or other web weather forecasts for Zip Code 35010 to know what to be expect on Race Day. I will also post weather updates on this website and to Facebook. If it has rained heavily the day before the race or race day the course will be wet. There are many stream crossing throughout the 25 mile loop and it will be difficult or impossible to keep your feet dry. If we have little or no rain the week before and race day, your should have no trouble keeping your feet dry the entire race. The average rain fall for March is about 6 inches. Be prepared.
You can count on it being cool or cold at the start and warming up as the day goes on (unless it is rainy.) I would recommend bring extra socks and shoes and placing them in you drop bags if you don't like wet feet. I also would suggest wicking sock like "Swiftwick or Drymax. Have a light and heavy jacket available and bring a hooded rain jacket just in case, even if there is no rain forecast. More than likely, you will be able to run in shorts all day. A pair of light gloves and a hat or beanie type cap would be a good idea. Have all of this stuff available and check the weather forecast Friday night for safety. Remember it is better to carry something you do not need than to need something you do not have. Hypothermia can be a serious problem if you are wet, even at temperatures as warm as the mid 50s.
One item I always recommend is a pair of Gaiters. I have three or four pair of "Dirty Girl Gaiters" and I love them. This may be the only specific product I would say is a must. I NEVER have to stop and empty trash out of my shoes. NEVER!!!! Can I make it any clearer. I ran the entire Grindstone 100 in 35 hours and never took my shoes off and never changed socks. (I wore Swiftwick.) Get a pair of gaiters. Dirty Girl's are simple and really cool. I also wear compression sleeves on my calves. I wear compression socks in an Ironman event but not on the trail. Full length compression socks are very difficult to get off, especially when you are tired and the socks are wet late in a race. SwiftWick socks are compression socks and come in several sizes, and cuff lengths. I like 4" cuffs because they will lap over my compression sleeves.
All runners must carry water during the Lake Martin 100, 50 and 27. MUST. You will not be allowed to start without water. It is 7 miles between some aid stations (Including the first) and there is no water elsewhere on the course. If it is hot, most runners will need more than one handheld 20 oz bottle. The slower you will be running the more water you will need. If you like keeping you hands free, then I would suggest a Hydration Pack. This is one of those things you figure out in those long training runs.
I prefer hand held bottles. That is what I always run with unless I plan to use Trekking Poles. Trekking poles are for climbing. If you are running a race with 23,000 ft of elevation gain, use poles. I used poles at Grindstone, Tahoe and Wasatch 100s and wore a hydration pack. I would not use poles at Lake Martin. This is my preference, however. Some ultrarunners use poles in all races.
I often wear a 2 Liter Nathan pack without the bladder just for storage of things like a jacket, hat and gloves, especially if the weather is questionable. If it is cold at the start but will be warming up later in the day, then get cold again as night approaches, I want a hat and gloves with me all the time. I will start the race wearing them,and put them in the pack as the temperature begins to rise. Of course, it is easier to leave a second set of warm clothes in a dropbag where you expect to need them. The pack is also a convenient place to store electrolyte tablets, snacks, an extra flash light, cell phone, etc. If I will be running into the night I always, "ALWAYS" start the race with a back-up flashlight in a pack and carry it with me the entire race. I backup flashlight or headlamp is one thing you do not want be without when running at night. One other ALWAYS. Before every 100 I throw away all the batteries in my headlamps and flashlights and purchase new ones at a RiteAid or Walgreens. (Drugstores have very quick turnover of batteries. You don't want batteries that have been sitting on a shelf for 3 years.) Put the new batteries in your lights and extra batteries in you backpack. Put the rest in your dropbags.
Fueling (eating): Again, figure out what you like in the long training runs. They (whoever "they" is) tells you to never eat anything new in a race. Well that may be fine for a marathon but is just not practical in most ultras. I follow a simple rule. Eat what looks good or what I want. I have eaten such diverse things as apple pie, pecan pie, grilled cheese sandwiches, (lots of grille cheese at Grindstone) Boost, a barbeque sandwich, many types of broth and soup and many things that I didn't even know what they were, but they all looked good and tasted good. You should carry an additional source of carbs during the run. Don't depend on the aid stations to supply your total need for calories. You cannot eat enough at aid stations to keep up with the carbs you burning and you may not like what you find at the aid station. I always have my own carb drink mix and snacks that I like with me and in my drop bags. I keep one 10 oz bottle of CarboPro mixed at all times during all Ultras. I mix two scoops of CarboPro to 10 oz of water. I drink it constantly at a rate of 10 oz every 1.5 hours. I supplement in food intake with what I find at aid stations, usually a banana and a sandwich.
Early in the day at the Lake Martin 100, the aid station food will be pretty simple.
Peanut butter and jelly Sandwiches Bananas Oranges Heed (Hammer Nutrition carb drink) Hammer Gel Chips Cookies Various snacks and candy Coke Water
Starting about 11:00 AM we will add: (If it is cold all day these foods will all be heated.
Hot noodle soup Turkey and Swiss roll-ups Cheese roll-ups Bean Burritos
Overnight we will keep serving the same foods but will heat the roll-ups.
Hot Noodle Soup Hot Turkey and Swiss Roll-ups Hot Cheese Roll-ups Hot Bean Burritos
Rules for eating and drinking on the run.
1. Drink a little every few minutes. Eat one electrolyte cap before the start (or the equivalent) and one every hour on the hour. This works for an average size person. If you are larger, you will need more. 2. If it is hot, take more. 3. Drink a carb drink or eat gels throughout the run. Like water, it is best to eat a little at a time and eat something every few minutes. I often grab a banana, a cookie and a sandwich at the aid station and carry it with me for later. 4. It is a good idea to carry an extra baggie or two with you for food you will eat later and empty gel packs. Please do not throw any trash down on the course. 5. Get a bowl of soup and other food and take it with you. Don't sit down to eat. You are wasting time and your legs will stiffen up and it can be really hard to get going again. If you are tired, walk while you eat. It is easy to loose as much as an hour in a 50 mile race at aid stations. Walk as you eat the soup then eat the sandwich or cookies on the run. Save a little for later. We will set up a trash container a couple of hundred yards past each aid station. This should give you time to finish you soup or coke in time to throw it in the trash. 6. If you start feeling sick at you stomach there is a good chance you are not taking in enough electrolytes. If you don't get enough salt, water starts to sit in you stomach as "slosh" around. That will make you feel sick. Take more electrolytes. Too much salt can make you feel sick too, but too much salt is rarely the problem. 7. If you begin to feel a little queasy, eat a ginger chew. That should settle your stomach in just a few minutes.
Drop Bags: (For the Lake Martin 100 and 50)
It is a good idea to not dig into your dropbag every time you reach an aid station. (Wasted Time.) Get your drop bag only when you need something. What you actually put in drop bags will depend on conditions, weather and temperature. The following is what I would put in drop bags if I were running the race in average conditions. I would be running with one 20 oz handheld Nathan Water Bottle. I would start the race with 6 electrolyte caps in a small baggie in the pouch of the water bottle. That will get me to the 25 mile aid station. I would put a second baggie of 6 more electrolyte caps in the drop bag for the Cabin Aid Station, mile 25 and grab them them when I come through. Occasionally, you will forget to pick up something you need at an aid station. It would be a good idea to put another baggie with electrolytes in both drop bags just in case. As I mentioned, I use Carbo Pro for my primary carb intake during races. It has virtually no flavor and I have no stomach issues using it. I consume one 10 oz Nathan bottle of Carbo Pro every 1.5 hours. I would wear my Nathan Quick-Draw belt which holds four 10oz bottle. I add water to only one bottle of Carbo Pro at the start and carry three bottles with powder only. (I mix two scoops of Carbo Pro to 10oz of water.) I only fill one bottle at a time unless it is a long way to the next aid station. I would put four additional bottles with Carbo Pro, with no water, in the drop bag at mile 25, the Cabin AS. I would evaluate how much Carbo Pro is left as I approach the each aid station and decide if I need at add water the next. (You need to estimate how long it will take you to get to the next aid station.) I would put my headlamp and flashlight in the Heaven Hill Bag. If the temp will drop at night I would also put a hat, gloves and sleeves and jacket in that bag. I would plan to pick them up on the second trip through the Heaven Hill AS. Of course what you will need when is determined by your pace. If conditions are wet, I would put an extra pair of dry shoes and socks in the drop bags at both aid stations. I put socks in Ziploc baggies and shoes in two plastic grocery bags. If I leave any additional clothing in drop bags I put them in Ziploc baggies as well. You don't want your dry shoes soaked if it rains. I also put additional Honey Stinger Waffles, which I like, extra Ginger Chews, aspirin, and a couple of energy bars in two baggies and put one baggie in each aid station drop bag. If I want any of these things I grab them as I go through. I also use plastic bins with closable lids. They are about 2 ft. by 2 ft. by 4 inches. I use these where they are allowed, especially if you will be going through the same aid station multiple times. It is much easier to find what you want in the bin than to dig through a normal dropbag. Not all races will allow plastic bins. One thing you can do is place the plastic bin inside a regular dropbag. I put my name and number on the box and take it out of the drop bag the first trip through the aid station that I need supplies from the bag. I will then leave it out. It will be easy to spot next time through.
Pacers: (In the 100 mile race ONLY)
Pacers are allowed after mile 50 in the 100. We must know in advance if you will have a pacer. Your pacer must fill out a release waver for Southeastern Trail Runs and Russell Lands prior to being allowed on the course. Pacers must also wear a "Pacer" number at all times while on the course. Only one pacer for each runner is allowed on the course at any time. If you plan to have more than one person pacer you, each must sign the release and the number must be passed from one runner to the next at the exchange point at the Stables Aid Station. All pacers must start and end their pacing at the Stables Aid Station. Changing pacers elsewhere on the course will result in disqualification. Pacers are NOT allowed in the 50 mile or 27 mile race.
Crewing at the Lake Martin 100 will be a snap. With only one "crew accessible" aid station, the Stables Aid Station at the start, miles 18, 25, 43, 50, 68, 75, 93 and 100 the finish. You do not need to drive miles to meet you runner although you may meet them at the three trail heads the race route passes through, but please do not provide aid and at these locations. Cheer for you runner as they come by, but hurry them along the trail. With 4 aid stations per 25 miles they will loose a lot more time if you don't keep them moving.
What you should do:
An area will be set aside for crew members to give aid to their runner. Don't come into this area until about 30 minutes before you runner is expected. Find their drop bag and lay out the contents so they are easy to see. It is best to have a towel to place supplies on. You may also have a folding chair for them to sit in. That will be a nice place to sit while waiting, too. Work out in advance what you are expected to do for your runner. You should do things like fill water bottles or mix carb drinks etc. You may also want to have hot soup ready as they are coming into the aid station. Unless you runner is having difficulty and needs stay in the aid station to recover, don't let them sit around. As soon as they are resupplied, get them up and back on the trail. It may be a good idea for you and you runner to have cell phones at all times. If they know they are going to need something like dry socks a change of shoes or shirts, they can call in advance so you are prepared. I will be fine of set up your own aid station at you car, so long as it is in the area near the Cabin. Be sure your runner comes back through the start/finish however. We must check them into the aid station so we have a record of where everyone is on the course. Missing an aid station will result in disqualification. Don't let them forget.
Injuries and Medical Problems: Runners and Crew Members should be familiar with the medical issues that may arise during an Ultra.
Please read over the attached information. Know what to look for, Know what to do. Remember, if you encounter a problem, contact race