Race #10 of the AURA Ultra Trail Series took place at the 20th running of the White Rock Classic which guides runners along nicely groomed forest service roads and natural goodness of north west Arkansas. Dense fog blanketed the area which limited the beautiful views throughout, but the projected rain held off as temps slowly dropped throughout the day.
While a non-technical scamper, you will enjoy a nice collection of 500-1000 foot ups and down with the out-and-back turnaround at the top of White Rock Mountain.
Go up…and down for the 50k, or make it to the top of White Rock Mountain and call it a day, just make sure you have a ride back down.
Having last ran the 50k back in 2008 in a winning time of 4:23, Arkansas local, Brian Hurley was back to play and dialed up the turnover to knock off over 30 minutes from his 2008 time and set a new course CR in 3:53:06!
Scott Reeves cruised in for second place honors.
Top 3 males
- Brian Hurley – 3:53:06 (*CR)
- Scott Reeves – 4:32
- Joshua Hillebrand – 4:37
Alison Jumper finished 5th overall for the top female finish in 4:53!
Sharon James led the chase group in second.
Top 3 female
- Alison Jumper – 4:53
- Sharon James – 5:43
- Leah Mayfield – 5:47
Our Tough-As-Nails finisher in the 50k was Matt Gould who finished the soft surface adventure in 7:30.
3 Qs with Men’s CR Setter Brian Hurley
How were you feeling race morning and did you feel like you had a sub-4 in ya having a 4:23 as your previous fastest time on the course? (You dropped that time by 30 minutes – HUGE!)
I was feeling pretty decent the morning of the race and thought I might have a shot at a sub-4 run, and an outside chance at a course record. My previous best time was quite a bit slower , but that was a few years ago, and my training been much higher quality and more consistent since then (and the last time I ran the full course I had just finished up some chemotherapy and was about 20 pounds heavier than I am now).
I’ve added a lot more speed work, thanks to the excellent track workouts put on by Rush Running in Bentonville. I’ve also paid a lot more attention to aspects I’ve ignored in the past, particularly core strength. My wife, who has recently opened a barre fitness studio, Barre3 – Fayetteville, has become my “core coach”. Improved core strength really helps me to keep decent form in the later miles of a longer race. I also have a couple of kids (1.5 and 3.5) that I didn’t have last time I ran, and pushing them up and down hills in the Double B.O.B has done wonders for my hill running.
These changes had led to PRs in the mile, 5k, and marathon this fall, so I was hopeful that I would see similar improvements at this race. But 3:53 was still a very pleasant surprise.
It seems like you may have separated from the 50k group fairly quickly. How did the outbound leg play out and what was your approach to manage the climbing effort to have something for the blast back down?
I separated from the runners about halfway up the first climb, but there are mountain bikers who do this route as well, and I went back and forth with them all day (I usually caught them on the ups, and they passed me on the downs). One thing I really like about this route is that it kind of does the pacing for you. There is a lot more climbing on the way out than on the return, so it is pretty easy to run negative splits.
My plan was to keep pretty contained on the way out, then see where I was at and decide how hard to push coming back. I felt good on the climbs, and was trying not to blow my quads out on the downs. I think the extreme fog, lack of visibility, and not knowing where I was mile-wise actually helped me to focus inwards and really run by feel.
I left the turnaround right at 2:05, and was still feeling really good, so I pushed pretty hard (maybe high 5-minute miles?) on the long-ish (maybe 5.5 mile) downhill from the top of White Rock. I tried to take gels at the bottom of the last two climbs and push up those, then coast on the downs.
I love in this run how the ups and downs are pretty evenly divided. Once your up muscles get tired, you have a nice long descent to recover and use other muscles. I was definitely feeling it by the top of last climb, but crested that one just before I felt like I was really going to blow up. The last 2.7 miles are all down, so they pretty much take care of themselves.
It’s probably my favorite finish of any longer race because even if you’re dying, you can still go pretty fast.
Would love to hear any strong memories on the day?
It’s been a while since I’ve run a race in the trail series here, so it was nice to see some familiar faces, and to meet some new people. I always appreciate that people (In this case PoDog, Lisa Gunnoe, and Chrissy Ferguson) take the time and effort to put these on.
Dirt road running in the Ozarks is probably my favorite kind of running anywhere. This run blends all the scenery and middle-of-nowhere-ness of a trail, with nice, smooth footing that lets me (not the world’s best technical runner) actually look up and see the surroundings. But with the weather of this race largely hiding those sights, I was able to really focus on the physical experience of running in a way I have not before.
Things just clicked and felt really smooth all day out there. That feeling was particularly memorable, and it also provided me with some important lessons in successfully racing longer distances. I tend to go into these things with pretty specific and probably unrealistic expectations. This leads to situations where I go out too fast and blow up. The casual nature of this run/ race let me relax and really by feel, which led to faster times in the end.
Last year’s 50k winner, Katie Helms, took the one-way ticket this year and dialed a 2:30 win to the top of the mountain.
Chrissy Ferguson scampered to the top for runner-up honors.
Top 3 female
- Katie Helms – 2:30
- Chrissy Ferguson – 3:42
- Debbie Sobolewski – 3:35
James Reeves galloped off a 2:09 dash to the top. Matt Sobolewski was the second and final male of the 25k.
Special thanks to Brian Hurley for sharing with us!
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Posted on 07 Mar 2014