Lake Martin 100 UltraRaun

The entire Lake Martin 100 is run on Russell Forest trails, including the scenic Big Way.

Brave and determined runners from across the country will descend upon Lake Martin this month and take to the trail for the Sixth Annual Lake Martin 100 to be held March 23 and 24.

Hosted by Southeastern Trail Runs, this ultrarun across Russell Forest terrain includes some 14,000 feet of elevation gain and was voted the best in North America in 2017.

“Now that this is the sixth year for the 100 and seventh year total, we don’t have any course changes. We’re happy with the course here. It’s easy to follow, and that’s the main thing,” said David Tosch, race organizer.

At 6:45 a.m., participants will kick off their adventures from The Naturalist Cabin at Russell Crossroads and will have 32 hours to complete the race; however, Tosch said, as long as runners are off the trails before sunset Sunday, they may complete the race and be considered finishers.

“The biggest problem people have is starting out too fast. My best advice would be to not get carried away; go slow on that first lap; continue that pace, and you’ll have a better shot at finishing,” said Tosch.

One designated lap on the Russell Forest trail is 25.1 miles, so those finishing the 100-mile race actually run 100.4 miles after the four-lap total.

Last year’s race had a 50 percent finish rate, which Tosch said is about average and the highest number of finishers at the Lake Martin 100 yet.

The event was designed as a step-up race with options of 27, 50 and 100 miles, so runners could increase their distances over the years. The cutoff time for the 27- and 50-mile races is 16 hours, but anyone that completes at least 27 miles is considered a winner.

Friends and families may set up tents at Russell Crossroads or along the path to offer additional encouragement as runners pass through to start new laps, but spectators and support must yield to runners.

Last year, Suman Silwal finished his fifth Lake Martin 100 and encouraged others to stay motivated. He spoke at the pre-race meeting at Children’s Harbor’s Harbor Lodge last year about his experiences and determination. The camaraderie on the trails to encourage, assist and support others makes the run a bit more manageable, he said.

“Suman will run again this year, making it his sixth race. He’s training more this year. He really pushes the point to pace the run. People sometimes end up going out too fast,” said Tosch. “Isaac Espy is another runner who has run in all Lake Martin 100s. Last year, he had to drop, but I know he’ll get out there again this year and do his best.”

This year, a pre-race dinner option is available for $13 per person. Dinner reservations must be made no later than March 15. Professional caterer for Southeastern Trails, Logan Cook, will prepare a chipotle-style Mexican dinner at 5:15 p.m. Friday night before the race. The mandatory pre-race meeting will follow to discuss rules and answer any questions.

For runners and crew staying at the Harbor Lodge, a pre-race breakfast also will be available for $5 per person.

Registration numbers are already ahead of what they were this time last year, said Tosch, so there may be more runners in total, but he won’t know until closer to race time.

For those interested in participating or learning more about the rules of the race, a good resource is the racer’s manual found, which is available online at southeasterntrailruns.com/lake-martin-100.

“I try to keep it updated as often as possible. It’s a great tool to have everything right there, all together,” said Tosch.

Register online at ultrasignup.com before midnight on March 19. There is also a printable pdf registration form available on the Southeastern Trail Runs website, which can be mailed to Tosch. There will be no late registration options available. To receive a performance shirt, racers must sign up by March 10.

For additional information, maps, video interviews and more, visit the website.