Monday, October 21, 2013

Whitewater Center 50K Race Report

This was a first annual ultra race taking place at the US National White Water Center in Charlotte, NC.  The race featured two distances of 50M or 50K which were both ran on a looped course format.

I choose the 50K option since Pinhoti 100 is only about 13 days away.  It was a wise decision because the course seemed to run much tougher than everyone originally expected.

Packet pickup on Friday night was easy & quick at the center.  It was great as always to hang out with friends and make some new ones.  I was able to catch the last 10 minutes of a panel discussion featuring a very talented ultra runner Karl Meltzer and a few others.

Great hotels are only about five minutes from the location which made it easy to get a good nights sleep.

Everyone arrived a little early to the race on Saturday morning.  Even me, which is very unusual.  It was actually nice to be able to relax with friends for a few minutes before the start.

The 50K course featured three 10.3 mile loops with approximately 1,000 foot of climbing on each loop.  A very tame course and possibly a Personal Record type event with perfect temperatures hanging in the upper 50's to 60ish.

A slight drizzle began to fall just minutes before the race as about 50 runners heard our final instructions together in the Whitewater Arena area.  The facilities here are phenomenal and professional grade.  Heated lockers rooms with full showers, high end gear shop, and attention to every athlete's needs.  It was a strange, but exciting "feel" for an ultra.  One that I have yet to be a part of.

 I've never seen runners take off at the pace that was taken when it started.  It was a dark start at 6:00 AM and I'm guessing well over 75% of the field must have averaged an 8-9 minute mile as we began.  I watched the headlamps make the turn across the river and so many went quickly out of sight.

Me, Katie and Angela settled into a nice steady pace and enjoyed some laughs as we zigged zagged our way through the first miles of the course.  We hit the first aid station around mile 4.25 and soon after that the sun began to come up. 


We took down the first 10.75 mile loop in about 2:15.  As the sun came up and I got a feel for the trail I knew this was going to be a solid day of running.  The UCAN I've been taking in addition to a steady drip of sugar has really helped me keep a steady flow of energy.

It was great to have Katie's husband Jeff looking out for us and he grabbed all of our headlamps after the 1st loop.  The three of us got restocked at the great aid station and headed back out for loop 2.

I thoroughly enjoyed this course because even I could run so much of it.  There were no big climbs and the terrain was diverse enough to keep things interesting.  A few roots & rocks, but nothing that could really hold you back.  I think what ended up making the race tougher for most people than expected was all of the twists & turns.  This really takes a toll on your lower body after lots of miles.

Angela began to experience some back problems around mile 15 on loop two and she insisted that Katie & I carry on ahead of her.  We were both hesitant to go, but realize when Angela says something she means it.

We were all running so well and I wanted to try and hang with Katie.  She is one of the most consistent runners I've ever paced with.  Uphills, downhills, flats - all the same pace.  I'm normally all over the board with my pace, but today I felt like I could hold on for the 2nd half of the race.

We finished out miles 16-21.50 and did the 2nd loop in about 2:40 which was around 5:00 hours into the race.  Jeff was there to help us out again and we fueled up, then hit the trail again for our final loop.

We continued the steady 11-12 min mile pace heading into miles 22-32.  My butt & hip muscles began to really starting fatiguing around mile 26.  I knew it had to be all of the twist & turns.  All of the aid stations were so clean and the volunteers were super nice.  This really helped keep me going at the later points in the race.

At one point we both thought we had went off course because we didn't recognize the course.  It was marked properly, but after looking back at my GPS we never went off course.  I think we were both going a little looney at this point.

I mentioned to Katie that we could possibly finish under 7 hours, but we both agreed that it really didn't matter since we had a 100 mile race in only two weeks.  Then again, I think it did matter and we both really just wanted to be finished!  We took turns taking the front and pushed the pace down to around 10:30 min/miles in some stretches.  My freaking legs were screaming with the burn, but it felt kind of good too.

We finally made the last turn which led us to a half mile finish along the Whitewater River Rafing course.  I saw my friend Drew up ahead and told Katie that we had to push all the chips in and go for him.  Wisely, she didn't buy into my nonsense, but I began pushing wide open during the final quarter mile towards the finish line. 

Drew caught a glimpse of me coming at the final turn so at that point we were both committed to a full out sprint.  My closing kick must look like a Rhino on Meth, but I gave it my best.  He crossed 1 second before me and I collapsed to the ground and nearly got sick in front of everyone. 

It was a fitting finish for the day.  I feel very well trained & mentally ready for Pinhoti 100.

This was an outstanding race and very professionally put on by the RDs and volunteers.  I highly recommend it!

Also a special shout out to Kat, who finished 1st female and took home several great prizes including a NEW Suunto GPS Watch!  Also to Jeff who let me wipe me glasses on his clean shirt and fed me beer at the finish.

Here is my full GPS race if you're interested in looking over the details.


  1. Great write-up, Jason. Thanks so much for coming out! It was great to see the three of you on the trails, and your finish was truly epic. Good luck at Pinhoti!

  2. and it looks like you still beat Drew! I'm guessing he crossed the start mat a bit before you... sometimes it pays to be patient at the start!

    1. yea, I got him on the chip time (not that I was racing against him that day - he would kill me in a race). That was a really fun event.