Rock/Creek and The Wilderness Trail Running Association (The Boonies) have planned the longest trail running race in Chattanooga history. The Lookout Mountain 100k will take place for the first time on Saturday.
The foot race will cross several different properties in Tennessee and Georgia, and much of the race takes place on newly constructed trails. There will also be a 10k option.
Randy Whorton, president of The Boonies, describes the historic significance of the Lookout 100k: "This race represents a milestone in Chattanooga's history, not only because it's the longest race to ever take place here, but also due to the nature of the trails. We've built many of these trails this year with the help of countless volunteers and money from Rock/Creek and other sponsors, and those trails traverse several different properties in two states.
"Some of the properties are public land held through various park services, others are private lands held in trusts and by single landowners. It's a testament to the cooperative spirit of Chattanoogans that we were able to negotiate the use of all these different lands. That was definitely the biggest challenge we faced in organizing this race."
Whorton thanked all of the parties involved, including landowners, property managers, and the volunteers who have helped construct the various trails over the last year.
The Lookout race will be the last of the nine races in the inaugural Rock/Creek Trail Series. Previous races in the series include established races such as the Rock/Creek StumpJump 50k as well as new races like the Greenway 5 Miler.
"I'm excited about this race," said Mark McKnight, Rock/Creek's marketing director. "The StumpJump has risen to national prominence as one of the best 50k trail races, and we plan to make the Lookout 100k just as successful in its category. It took eight years from the small grassroots race that Matt Sims started, but we've grown it to the point where we had a cap of 500 runners and raised $9,000 for trail work and access in Chattanooga. I don't see any reason why the 100k won't be to that level in a similar time frame."
Rock/Creek co-owner Dawson Wheeler, a Signal Mountain native, has been involved with the project for about a year. "I see this race as an opportunity to introduce trail runners from across the country to the beautiful topography we have here in Chattanooga.
"Within a few minutes of downtown, you have beautiful vistas and challenging trail conditions. Stream crossings, unique rock formations, what else could you want?"
Wheeler also expressed his appreciation for the volunteers and sponsors who make races such as the 100k possible. The race will have an 18-hour cutoff, so multiple shifts of volunteers will be needed and the key volunteers will put in a very long day of service to these runners.
Over the last few weekends, Dawson Wheeler, the Whortons, and a handful of other volunteers began construction of a staircase that will help stop erosion and provide access to part of the trail near the historic Cravens House property. The trail building crews have included members of The Boonies, The American Hiking Society and the Rock/Creek Race Team. Upon completion of this last key improvement, the trail will be ready for runners.
The race was first conceived by Randy and Kris Whorton, avid distance runners who wanted to provide more opportunity for ultrarunners to experience the beautiful and varied terrain around Chattanooga. They brought the idea to the board of The Boonies, and Rock/Creek agreed to commit to funding the necessary trail work with proceeds from other races in the Trail Series. The Whortons are serving as the race directors.
Day-of registration will be available for the 10k only. 100k registration is closed. The race is part of Vasque's North American Trail Tour and is also sponsored by Rock/Creek, Mountain Hardwear, SmartWool, TrailRunner Magazine and Hammer Nutrition.
The race starts and finishes at Lula Lake Land Trust on Lookout Mountain. Runners will leave the Land Trust and run a lollipop of 38.3 miles to Covenant College, the Lookout Mountain National Battlefield Park and Reflection Riding Center and then return to Lula Lake Land Trust the same way they went out. This section includes Lookout Mountain Conservancy land on the Guild and Hardy trails. Once back in the Land Trust, runners will traverse land trust trails, and private property to Long Branch, High Point and Lula Lake Road. Runners will turn around at the aid station at Lula Lake Road and head back on the connector trail, staying on the connector and bypassing High Point. Runners will enter Long Branch Preserve and run back to Lula Lake Land Trust the way they went out. The second portion of the course is 23.44 miles.
For registration information, results and photography, visit http://www.rockcreek.com/lookout/
Full series information available at http://www.rockcreek.com/trailseries/