Race directors: Matt Sims and Chad Wamack
Written by: Chad Wamack
This year was the first official Upchuck 50k on the Cumberland Trail in Chattanooga, TN. The previous two years the event was more of a group run with a very light turn out, namely Matt Sims and I. The word has spread about the Cumberland Trail and this year we had 25 people toe the line. The entry field included racers from seven different states and a good mix of locals. The point to point race as advertised was basically unsupported and marked with the existing blazes.
There were two check-in stations at mile 8 and 18 and a convenience store where racers could fuel up and discuss the disappointing Tennessee football season with the locals. (A couple of years ago Matt and I stopped in and I ate way too much and hence the name Upchuck.) The previous runs on the Upchuck course have been run South to North but due to logistical difficulties we changed the direction. The 2008 Upchuck course started to the North on the Rock Creek segment and traveled south for 31.6 miles through the Possum Creek and Soddy segments of the Cumberland Trail.
The morning of the race everyone met at the finish area at the base of the mountain and boarded the “Magic Bus” to the start. The bus ride was filled with nervous energy like the first day of school. The previous two days had dropped two inches of rain which brought down the brightly colored leaves and had caused the creeks to swell, making the course even more technical. When the race started and everyone headed up the mountain, it started to rain again. The weather proved to fluctuate as much as the elevation going from rain to sun to sleet. The high for the day was 50 degrees at 7 am and by the finish it was in the 30’s.
The Cumberland Trail Conference recently finished construction on two new bridges at Rock Creek and Big Possum Creek. The runners were spared these creek crossings but the remaining 6 creek crossing added a lot of character to the course. The last 5 miles of the course goes right through the Deep Creek Gorge, a course that highlights the effects of the controversial surface rock mining that has devastated the Cumberland Plateau.
The winner was our own John Wiygul of Chattanooga, with a time of 5:25:29. John Brower of Jackson, MS gave him all he could handle and was just 2 seconds back. Natalie Sims, also of Chattanooga, brought in the Women’s best time at 6:52:38.
Many thanks to the volunteers and rangers who braved the weather and helped to make the event possible. Rock/Creek once again came up big. This locally-owned retailer’s support really made this race a reality. Other important sponsors were: SmartWool, Mountain Hardwear, and Hammer Nutrition. The Cumberland Trail is an incredible trail network that we are all very fortunate to have. The race is the second to last race in the Rock/Creek Trail Series. The Lookout Mountain 100k & 10k will close out the season on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee and Georgia. For more information on these races, visit https://www.rockcreek.com/trailseries/
For more information on the Upchuck 50k Trail Race, including links to race results and photography, visit https://www.rockcreek.com/upchuck/
Also be sure to check out our friend Dreama Campbell’s race report on her blog, “Dreama Campbell … Life after Ironman #2”
Here she talks about those notorious creek crossings:
Then came a series of creek crossings that I knew would leave my shoes and socks soaking wet! Argh…. I had to toughen up and take the plunge. The first one was ankle deep. The second one was calf deep. The third one was knee deep and in order not to fall further in I had to put my arms in up to my elbows! After that nasty crossing…. I had to regroup on the other side as I seriously thought to myself “Oh my god…. I’m going to get hypothermia!”. I was shaking and downright COLD. Fortunately… I had stashed a vest and Smartwool gloves in my pack and I took a minute to put these items on. Thankfully the extra clothing helped warm me up and I was able to slowly press forward. The last creek crossing had a rope to help guide you across…. I did not get wet anywhere above the ankle there. [Continued]