Saturday, March 04, 2006

So, you want to do the McNaughton 100 miler?

So, you think you are up to doing the McNaughton Park 100 mile run?

Well, let's see what you are up against. I did an easy training walk this morning (4 March). The course was a bit muddy due to the frozen ground thawing. Nevertheless, the same old 13 uphills are still there, and I managed to snap some photos.

Update: So did Dave Tapp, aka Stinky Pants Malone.

This course description is taken from the official website; I've added my comments:

Course Description

1 Start/Finish line. All distances will start at the same time/place and run the same loop.

2 Tanners Pass takes you around a loop that starts out downhill, then flat, then up hill, across a grassy meadow towards the Red trail.

My note: the first stiff uphill comes about .5 miles into the race; the flat part runs between a field and the woods.

3 Head north on the Red Trail to the Totem Pole Turn. The route goes around the totem pole. The first aid station is under the shelter house. Next aid station is about 4 miles so don’t miss this one.

My note: going into the red trail, you have the second good uphill, then across a power line clearing and back into the woods. Then there are several "minigorges" prior to getting to the Totem Pole Turn. You've had two good uphills in the first two miles, and some nice rollers and several mini stream crossings.

4 Pit toilets are about a quarter mile after the Totem Pole Turn on your right.

5 NEW SECTION: This rolling grassland is open and friendly. There are several bluebird houses in the area so call this the Blue Bird section.

Gather your strength here!

6 Heading south you will run on some sand so we will call this stretch the beach.

7 Lick Creek crossing number 1. You can look for an easy way to cross but, trust me, head straight through for a refreshing cooling of the feet. It should be no deeper than mid calf — unless the water is brown which would mean recent rain has made a torrent!

You run up hill number three during this stretch, prior to the stream crossing.

8 Follow the yellow ribbons closely on the other side, as there are several trail options. After a couple of hills, you will have a short, flat, easy run.

That would be hill number 4.

9 That easy run ends at Golf Hill. We have a rope for your use. Enjoy the great view from the top as you will be heading back down soon. Listen for someone yelling “Fore!”.

This is toward the top of golf hill, looking down. You take this hill up the spine. In the background you can see the approach to this hill. This starts a stretch where you encounter 3 hills within one mile.

10 Continue south through rolling hills (we call the last one “Hearbreak Hill”) until you get to Brick Corner. There is a stack of bricks on the other side of a fence and you can clearly see a private residence.

Here you encounter some "elevator shaft" drops and climbs. I show one of these climbs and one of the drops. This gives you hills 6 and 7.

11 This turn puts you on the newest part of the Red Trail called the Sheridan. Included is another creek crossing of a tributary to Lick Creek. We call it Wobbly Rock and you can cross it dry by rock hopping but remember the name!

Andy, the race director, has gone soft on us. The stream crossing that he describes is being replaced by the above bridge.

12The Sheridan exits at the Hairpin turn — names more for the nearby road. This turns you toward the north, across a wooden bridge and up the hill.

Here you encounter hill number 8 (a relatively small one) and then number 9, which features a rather wide section of trail. It is a longer hill, but this hill is not as steep as some of the others, and it features good footing.
13 At the top of the hill is an agriculture field. You turn right and loop around what we call Cemetery Loop — the Meyers Cemetery is along the way. Run on the grassway around the field.

14 Heaven’s Gate is about half way around the Cemetery Loop and is a fun mile loop. An aid station is at the Gate so you get to stop there twice.

This little section is a steep downhill, a stream/field loop, then a steep up. This is hill number 10, and you are barely 6 miles into the loop.

15 Finish the Cemetery Loop and run along another grassway to the Hooter Hill Loop. After you drop down to the valley floor, enjoy the longest, flat stretch on the course before climbing abruptly up to more rolling hills.

16 Hooter Hill exits to the Picnic Oak, a large grass meadow with a large oak tree and evidence of a few picnics. Head downhill and along another ag field the the 3rd Lick Creek crossing. If the creek is low, you might be able to cross dry on the left but will lose several seconds and be subject to a muddy shore.

This stretch isn't too bad, but you start to get the impression that you are closer to the loop finish than you really are. Leaving the stream you encounter hill number 11.
17 Watch the yellow ribbons closely again as there are several cross paths on the other side of the creek. This last loop is called the Foundation Loop and when you see the old concrete foundation, you are nearing the end.

This part is the cruelest part of the course. The are still a couple of stiff uphills and some other assorted rollers. You can sense that, "as the crow flies", you are close to the end of the loop. But Andy is taking you a bit farther by including this hilly loop. The small rolling hills seem relentless as you are eager to get this loop over with!

18 As you exit the Foundation Loop, you will run by another pit toilet, then cross the dam of the lake, up the hill and to the Start/Finish line. You will be running through the Frisbee golf course and these people take their sport seriously so watch for flying discs.

Yes, you really are close to finishing the loop! There is still one stout mini-uphill and lots of grass. You've got roughly .5 miles left.

How well do the runners do?

What these graphs and figures show is that the average finisher finishes in about 27:06. The average first 50 miles is taken in 11 hours and the average second 50 takes close to 16:30. The median finisher takes 27:34 to complete the course. The average runner slows down by about 50% over the second half; for most this is roughly 5 hours. That is, expect to take up to an hour more per 10 mile loop during the second half! To see this data in graphical form, see the following data analysis.

For each graph, click to see a larger image.

Well, the above shows a histogram of the finish times (keep in mind that there are two walkers and that of the 48 that started the 100, 28 finished. The mean finish time is just over 27:05, with the median being around 27:34. But check this out:

This is a graph of the time to do the first 50 miles: the mean is almost exactly 11:00. The second half is a completely different story:

the median is about 16:33; the distribution is somewhat skewed to the right. As far as the difference between the first half and the second half:
The difference distribution is very heavily weighted around 5 hours, with some upper outliers.
But the percent slowdown is heavy around 50% and, save for one upper outlier, fits a bell curve nicely.


Anonymous kent said...


Thanks for doing all the 'groundwork' on McNaughton. Fore-warned is fore-armed! I'm signed up for the 50 and really looking forward to this hilly challenge! Are trail shoes & gaiters needed or do you think I can get by with my regular running shoes?

3/05/2006 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger ollie said...

Hi Kent; during my first McNaughton (50K) I wore road shoes. During my second I wore trail shoes plus gaiters and during my third I wore Asics 2100 (road shoes) plus gaiters.

I need gaiters as I drag my feet, but there is really only a couple of brief stretches where one could get rocks in their shoes.

If it is muddy, trail shoes with an agressive tread is a plus. If it is dry, then the footing will be good throughout and tough road shoes are ok.

3/05/2006 11:06:00 AM  

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