On July 14, race number one of the Arkansas Ultra Trail Series took place at Lake Sylvia, just west of Little Rock, Arkansas, for the Midnight 50k. Low-key vibe, out-and-back on forest service roads, and an 8:00 pm start.
One additional special note by the organizers – You might keep an eye out for Copperhead snakes (they may stretch out on the road–soaking up the heat after dark).
For those not wanting the full 50 km, a 25 km option was available as well.
Ouachita Trail 50 course record holder (results summary), Nick Lewis, was back crushin’ the Arkansas landscape in the men’s race hanging out with many of the top 25 km runners in the early miles.
Nick reached the turnaround in 1:49 and ready to push a negative split on the return trip but the unique challenges of an evening start reared its ugly little head which required dialing back the effort.
“From 18-22 miles, I started having some stomach issues that I honestly think were from eating too much food at lunch.”
A bit of stomach issues didn’t stop Nick from cruising across the finish in 3:43:00, dang close to an even split, and setting a new course record in the process.
“It was a great night and I love the event, no matter how boring fire roads are!”
Defending champ, Charlie Duke finished second and dropped over 25 minutes off last year’s time.
Top 5 male
- Nick Lewis (McMillan Elite) – 3:43:00 (*new CR*)
- Charlie Duke – 3:53:36
- Bryan Roberson – 4:00:00
- Chris Moutos – 4:12:18
- Tom Brennan – 4:16:18
Jeanne Claire-White, and a posse of Louisiana runners made the trip to Arkansas for a night time adventure. Through the first 16 miles she enjoyed time with fellow Louisiana flatlanders before dialing up the effort and running the remaining miles solo at the front.
What did Jeanne think of the rolling terrain?
“ It is completely flat here [Louisiana], the highest climb I do is walking up three flights of stairs to my apartment! The hills were a challenge, and I was shocked to find out that I preferred the uphills more than the downhills. I ran as much as I could on the uphills, and then I would walk for a bit. But, the rolling terrain is what made the race interesting since I am not used to those kind of conditions.”
As a roadie running her first ultra, the aid station experience was completely new and tasty.
“I am used to running marathons and just blowing through aid stations and not stopping. It was like a party at the aid stations! I am so thankful for those volunteers! They were very friendly and the food was great. I never would have thought that M&Ms, pretzels, fruit, nutella cracker sandwiches, and potatoes with salt would taste so good!”
With the finish line in sight, Jeanne dialed up the effort and celebrated her longest run to date…and a female win!
“Crossing the finish line and hearing the people cheering stands out in my mind. It was such an incredible feeling to cross the finish line and know that I had just run the farthest I had ever run. It was such a feeling of accomplishment.”
Local Arkansas run-star, Deb Baker cruised in for second place honors.
Top 5 female
- Jeanne Claire-White – 4:37:15
- Deb Baker – 5:10:59
- Stacy Shavers – 5:25:25
- Jenny Brod – 5:39:33
- Rose Deal – 5:04:25
While the front group of women took off at the spicy effort, Leah Thorvilson started at a more comfortable pace after dealing with some tendinitis issues in previous weeks.
Arriving at the turnaround feeling great, Leah gave thought to taking the distance one-louder and continuing on to the 50 km turnaround.
“My mind was thrilled that my body felt good. Being out in the woods the air just felt a million times better than it has been in the mornings here. It was honestly tempting to keep going and run the 50 km since I felt so good and have been having a hard time getting through my long runs without overheating, but I decided better safe than sorry.”
After accepting a headlamp with an attitude and wrestling with a fun-size snickers bar wrapper, Leah dialed up the effort on the back half and ended up winning the female race.
“I especially enjoyed picking up the tempo a bit on the long downhill finish (about 3 miles down) and running in with my coach. Getting through the run without re-aggravating my leg was such a high and personal victory….the whole thing is a strong memory.”
Whitney Kerth led the chase group of three to finish second.
Top 5 female
- Leah Thorvilson (Go! Running) – 1:51:13
- Whitney Kerth – 1:55:41
- Meghan Lewis – 1:55:44
- Kenzie Bloom – 1:56:40
- Stephanie Spurgat – 2:20:12
Sub 3-hour marathoner, Josh Holt ran at the front through the turnaround with Aaron Batey and fellow runner close behind.
On the return trip, a runner flew by Aaron which awoke his competitive spirit.
“We started to pick it up a little when all of a sudden I look behind me and it looked like somebody on a mountain bike come flying by. Turns out it was Matt Pruitt. Well my competitive side took over and the little fun run we had set out to do turned into me leaving my friend and taking off after him. I caught him on a hill and went on by until I caught Holt [race leader].”
In the closing miles, Matt took off during another downhill section, passing post Aaron and Josh. Josh couldn’t hold onto the pace, but Aaron would not let Matt slip away.
During the closing meters, Aaron created a small gap to win the male race in 1:39:04.
Matt held onto second.
Top 5 male
- Aaron Batey – 1:39:04
- Matt Pruitt – 1:39:50
- Josh Holt – 1:40:34
- Barrett Lerth – 1:50:12
- Gary Taylor – 1:51:13
Race Reports and Pics
- Feel free to share a report or experience in the comment link below.
Special thanks to Nick Lewis, Leah Thorvilson, and Aaron Batey, for sharing their experience with us. Also, thanks to Russell Bennett for sharing a few of his pics during the adventure.
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David – EnduranceBuzz.com