I ran the inagural Grand Viduta Stage Race in Huntsville, Alabama the last weekend in April and let me say that Brandon Mader, Will Rogers, and Sean Allan put on a great event. I will definitely be back next year! Here’s why:
There was very little running of the same trail twice and a wonderful ultization of the rockiest trails in the area. At roughly 13 miles, it was a technical, and challenging day. Days two (16 miles) and three (14 miles) were on the other side of the mountain predominantly in Monte Sano State Park and also utilized many MM50k trails, again in many cases, in the opposite direction of the old classic. There were sustained climbs, steep descents, and also technical footing.
Newer trails (not part of MM50k) and the infamous Death Trail out of McKay’s Hollow crowned the event Sunday. The race directors laid out the basic plan and veteran Rob Youngren offered his advice on how to make the courses even better. You would be hard pressed to be disappointed in any aspect of the course layout.
Bonus: a great photographer who was all over the courses and posted hundreds of pictures each day. Added bonus: Huntsville has an amazing running community. My husband and I were quickly welcomed into it when we moved to town and have felt a part of it even after we moved away. When you come to Huntsville for a race, you feel you belong, like you are part of a big family.
Complaints: None. I can’t think of a thing that wasn’t great. The trails were well-marked and even though some flagging was pulled down by local boneheads on the second day, no one had serious issues with it (sure a few people got off course for a mile or so–it always seems like more than it is–and then they were back on course and on their way to the finish). The race directors regrouped and made sure everything was perfect for Sunday.
Overall, the Grand Viduta Stage Race was just what an event should be: fun, beautiful, challenging, and filled with the spirit of comraderie. Put it on your calendar for next April. You won’t be sorry!