Iron Horse: When a Marathon Just Isn’t Enough
With the weather cooling, the fall marathon season is upon Jacksonville. Somewhere among the hundreds of runners at the Jacksonville Bank Marathon finish line will be someone that has that burning question “what now??” Maybe that runner will be you. Maybe you are looking to jump into something “beyond” the marathon. But what? Look no further then Jacksonville’s own backyard, Palatka and the Ironhorse Ultra Marathons. The race was conceived by Chris Rodatz, ultra-runner living in Orange Park FL, who wanted to bring a 50 mile, 100km and 100 mile race to North Florida. With great weather, a great running surface and a great family atmosphere, the race is perfect for veteran ultra-runners or people just dipping their toe in the water. The Start/Finish is in Florahome and the race goes west to Grandin and then east for 7 miles and takes a sharp right turn into the Etoniah Creek State Forest. The course on the Rail Trail is mostly paved but the State Forest section is dirt roads. After 13 + miles in the forest the runners return to the Rail Trail and go back to Florahome. That is one loop and the 100 milers do it 4 times, 50 milers 2 times.
Not only will it be a beginner friendly event, the trail itself is steeped with rich Florida history. “The Rail Trail dates back to the early 1900’s when it was part of the Georgia Southern and Florida railroad which hauled timber mostly. Says Chris There was also passenger traffic on the line and I know a runner (my age) who actually rode the train from St Augustine to Gainesville. In the mid 1900’s it was taken over by Norfolk Southern and then shut down 40-50 years ago. It lay dormant until the Rail Trail movement started in Florida.”
Chris is also quick to point out that a race of this caliber requires a lot of support. “Each year we have runners come from 25-30 states plus Alaska and we have had runners from Canada, Germany, England, Bermuda and Hawaii. Understand though that like any event like this I could not have done it without the support of my family and the rest of my great and loyal volunteers.”
For those who’s interest has been piqued, here is a list below of need to knows.
Applicants for the 100 mile event must have completed a 50 mile race since Jan.1, 2012 or provide other proof of adequate conditioning and/or suitable running history.
100 mile entrants will be weighed at check in and again at 75 miles. If body weight has fluctuated more than 7% then runner will be required to stop and rehydrate or take nourishment. Whether runner will be allowed to continue is solely at the discretion of the race medical staff. (Florida is humid even in February. At the 2012 Iron Horse Race three runners required serious medical attention).
100 mile: $135
100 km: $85
50 mile: $75
Sorry for the fee increase but we now have to pay a usage fee to the State of Florida. Registration must be made by postal mail to the above address. Checks made out to Chris Rodatz or Iron Horse Endurance Run. No Entries after January 20, 2013. NO REFUNDS.
100 mile: Silver and gold (simulated) buckle to under 24 hr finishers and brass buckle to under 26 hr finishers.
100 km: Brass buckle to all finishers.
50 Mile: Finishers medallion.
100 mile winners get a silver buckle.
All runners must carry at least one water bottle. The aid stations are 5.5 miles apart and Florida is humid even in February and March. Crews & Pacers:There are crew points at about five spots on the course. Pacers only during the last half of your race.
There will be three manned and stocked aid stations with drink and food. There will be one un-manned station with only drink at the entrance to Etoniah St. Forest. Food will consist of PB&J sandwiches, potatoes, chips, candy, cookies, bananas/oranges,etc. Drink will be water and HEED.