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Sauratown Trails 50 mile 2003 Results and Report

6:00 AM Saturday, May 31, 2003
36 starters / 30 finishers (83%)

Place Time Name Age State
01 08:30:35 Derrick Carr 41 VA
02 08:54:30 Tim Lee 40 AL
03 08:59:32 Brian Kistner 32 SC
04 09:52:11 Joe Schlereth 53 NC
05 10:01:06 Bobby Biles 37 NC
06 10:20:06 Richard Lilly 40 NC
07 10:27:52 Barry Ege 50 AL
08 10:28:27 Sean McCormick 31 OH
09 10:29:03 Rich Schick 53 GA
10 10:30:22 Byron Backer 38 SC
11 10:30:35 Tony Smith 49 NC
12 10:32:00 Debbie Berner 37 NC
13 10:40:43 Annette Bednosky 36 NC
14 11:08:26 Andy Keegan 46 PA
15 11:14:28 Bryan Powell 37 NC
16 11:18:40 Geoff Sidoli
36 NC
17 11:19:26 George Brown 50 VA
18 11:43:25 Konrad Gannon 36 NC
19 12:11:25 David Kirk 52 NC
20 12:36:32 Dorothy Fyock 30 NC
21 12:36:32 Quatro Hubbard 43 NC
22 12:36:32 Graham Zollman 54 VA
23 13:14:02 Tina McCormick 29 OH
24 13:27:20 David Hardwick 63 NC
25 13:51:36 Keith Wood 53 NC
26 14:14:15 Anita Walker
36 NC
27 14:38:13 Rick French 51 NC
28 14:38:13 Mark Long 44 NC
29 14:40:45 Doug Dawkins 51 NC
30 15:27:49 Neil Hardin 26 NC
DNF N/A Carolyn Brown 36 NC
DNF N/A Marc Castleberry 31 NC
DNF N/A Bob Engel 48 OH
DNF N/A Michael Montgomery 56 TN
DNF N/A Buddy Nash 42 NC
DNF N/A Brad Thill 29 NC


The Sauratown Trails 50 mile was held with 3 objectives in mind: 1.) to raise awareness of the existence and needs of these trails; 2.) to raise money for maintenance and preservation of the trails and 3.) to afford runners an opportunity to venture on some of the trails while putting in a good hard trail run. A few may go so far as to say that there was a secret 4th objective to practice some ancient form of mud torture on unsuspecting runners.

All 3 (or 4) goals were met. 36 runners toed the starting line near Jomeokee Camp just after 6 AM on a rainy and cool Saturday morning and embarked on a double traverse of the Sauratown mountain range, one of the oldest and most unique ranges in all of America. For most of the day, runners followed the main Sauratown Trail, a 22 mile equestrian and hiker path. Because the Sauratown Trails are for the most part on private land, their existence is in constant jeopardy. Just a few weeks before the ST50, portions of trail were destroyed by loggers who purchased the land from local landowners. For this reason, a 1.3 mile detour on the road had to replace 2.8 miles of trail on the out and back portion of the course. Runners did not seem too disappointed by this last minute change as it cut the course distance down from 53.5 miles to 50.5.

The course has close to 7000' elevation gain; most of this adds up from short and steep climbs dispersed throughout the whole run. Because of El Nino and the Sauratown Trail horse traffic, the mud was in a word: intense. One particularly bad stretch extended for miles between the Thore Road and Rte. 66 aid stations. Runners could look forward to hitting it again on the return. The welcome knee-deep stream crossings cleansed the hefty southern sampler of black duff, brown mud and Carolina red clay from leg and shoe before runners were rendered completely immobile. Due to the difficulty of the terrain and the fact that on some hills each step forward produced a slide of half a step back, this was a 50 miler that ran like a 100K. For this reason, course cut-offs were extended. All 36 runners put forth a valiant effort, and 30 of them have earned permanent respect and admiration from me by crossing the finish line.

A strong men's field produced a tight race through the first half of the day as Brian Kistner, Tim Lee, Derrick Carr and Byron Backer contested for first place within five minutes of one another as they hit the course turn-around on the infamous Sauratown Loop AKA Bermuda Triangle. Upon completion of the loop, Brian and Derrick were neck and neck with Tim not far behind. Derrick pushed hard through the mud and achieved a comfortable lead in the last 10 miles over Tim and Brian who took second and third place respectively. These three strong runners all broke 9 hours with Derrick establishing the course record of 8:30:35. Debbie Berner and Annette Bednosky, both talented runners from NC, were within 10 minutes of one another throughout the entire day. Debbie was able to maintain the lead through the end finishing first in a smaller but still competitive women's field with a time of 10:32:00.

In the end we were able to raise $450 for the Sauratown Trails Association despite a low $25-35 entry fee. I would consider this a fantastic accomplishment for us all. This should help protect and preserve the Sauratown Trails and maybe encourage the non-profit STA to work towards making the trails more accessible and enjoyable for those traveling on foot. But then where would the adventure be in that?!?! As this was my first real run that I put on, I must say that it has earned me a healthy respect for what race directors do. Directing was definitely harder than running... Even on this course. Yet it was a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it again... Many months from now!

Finally, putting on such an event would've been impossible without the incredible help of many individuals. Special thanks to the aid station volunteers for their great work: Joey Anderson, Scott Brockmeier, Beverly Duval, Jay Finkle, Patricia Kirk, James, Carl Laniak, Brad and Andrea Smythe. Thanks also to Bobby Biles, Blake Norwood, Claude Sinclair and Scott Wolfe. Thanks to Tom and Alan Pace at Jomeokee Campground, Beverly Duval and Larry Reeves of the STA as well as Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock State Parks. Thanks to all the runners for coming out and not trying to assassinate me afterwards. I hope I'm not leaving anyone else out. Happy trails!

PS- I value runners' and volunteers' opinions of the event. Please feel free to send me any insights you have on the run and the trails. Runner reports would also be great. Thanks.