In the dark pre-dawn stillness Jim Skaggs, race director of the Antelope Island 50k/100k walked out in front of the runners to the starting area. Across the road he drew a line in the dirt with the heel of his shoe and invited all the racers to step up for the start of the 100k event. In a jovial tone he counted down from 10 and the runners were off.
You know you’re running a well-organized race when the RD starts the event at an arbitrary line in the dirt. No timing chips, no inflatable start/finish line, or fancy starting gun, just a man in a baseball cap with a stuffed buffalo head on the front telling you to start running. If you feel a hint of sarcasm in my words, believe me, there are none. While Mr. Skaggs employs the pomp and ceremony associated with a large event in his spring race, the Buffalo Run, he skips all of that for the Antelope Island 50k and 100k in place of well-organized aid stations, amazing volunteers, and a relaxing and stomach filling post-race smorgasbord.
This race was the epitome of what an ultra-marathon should be. It was low key, unassuming, and down-right fun. Don’t get me wrong, the fanfare of a large and overwhelming event can be exciting, but there is just something about getting back to the grass-roots basics of how ultras used to be run. And in this event Mr. Skaggs employed all the old tactics; distances between aid stations were sporty (up to 8 miles), the time-tested aid station fair, Gummy Bears, could be found in abundance, and he placed course markings at only critical junctions. This was truly an adventure runner’s race. While there really wasn’t a chance anyone was going to make a severely time-crushing wrong turn, runners did have to be mindful and run heads up. They had to be smart about water consumption and know how much to carry between aid stops. And they had to be prepared for hills on the front half of the course and fast flat single-track on the back.
On top of a well-organized event we had amazing weather, clear and in the low 60s for the entire day. For me personally this race was a real treat because not only was I racing with many friends, but I also knew volunteers at nearly every aid station. I think the same could be said for most in-state participants. Those people I did know who ran in both the 50k and 100k all finished in under their time goals, bettering their own expectations. While the weather played a large part in that, I attribute much of it to the course itself and the support of the volunteers and race staff.
The men raced hard in the 50k, the top 3 finishers coming within three minutes of each other. Congratulations to Christian Johnson on the win. While the time gap between first and second in the 100k wasn’t quite as close (13 min), I can assure you, it was a race till the very end with Aaron Spurlock taking home the trophy.
Thanks to Jim Skaggs and his crew of volunteers who made this an amazing experience for everyone who participated. If you need a great spring race to run, at any distance really (the Buffalo Run offers four distances – 25k, 50k, 50 mile, and 100 mile), you should definitely put the Buffalo Run on your calendar. You won’t regret it.
Results for both the 100k and 50k:
Christian Johnson 4:14:32
Paul De Morgan 4:15:54
Knut Hoversten 4:16:32
Carey May 4:23:12
Jennilyn Eaton 4:54:30
Jenn Maley 4:57:13
Aaron Spurlock 9:41:54
Craig Lloyd 9:54:35
Shay Johnson 12:45:46
Rebecca Burke 11:53:50 (3rd Overall)
Erin Harding 14:10:58