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Inaugural Trail Runner Ultra Race of Champions Has Impressive Debut

The first annual Trail Runner Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100K held in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Charlottesville, VA was a smashing success.

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October 12, 2011, Charlottesville, VA— The first annual Trail Runner Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100K was a smashing success. As the first Championship event for the sport of ultra distance running, UROC attracted some of the best long distance runners in the world, showcased a deep and impressive field, while remaining open to everyone. Experienced race organization from Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports lead to one of the most stand-out events in the sport, featuring an impressive venue, course, competitor roster, and video coverage.

Everything about the day stood out as outstanding and unforgettable. Runners and spectators were greeted by a rosy, hilltop sunrise. The weather was clear and cool at the mountaintop start/finish location at Wintergreen Resort when Trail Runner editor Michael Benge called out the start. Later, the clouds and fog would drift in and out, keeping the weather perfectly cool and misty–not only for UROC competitors, but for the runners of sister races: Uber Rock 50K and Cruxy Half Marathon. Aid stations were fully stocked and accessible by car to spectators and media. Family, friends, and reporters followed runners throughout the day as they traversed road and trails.

The UROC course was designed, from distance to mixed terrain, to fit the purpose of an ultra distance running Championship. The women’s second place finisher and winner of the UROC Ortovox Queen of the Mountain and Leader of the Pack competitions, Devon Cosby-Helms put it best: “UROC 100k is a great race. It favors no runner, except the well rounded one. There are huge climbs and descents, there is gnarly terrain, slippery rocks and sweet single track. There is rolling and unrelenting road. 12,000 feet of ascent and the same of descent seems like the perfect challenge. I highly endorse this race. I would run it again. It was a lot of fun. And not to mention this was a first year race and there was not much that showed that to be the case.”

Over 150 volunteers, many of them ultra distance runners themselves, made the race possible and contributed to its success. These included Geoff Roes, UROC’s elite athlete liaison and ultimately the 2011 Trail Runner UROC Champion, Andy Jones-Wilkins, a seven-time top ten finisher at the Western States 100 Miler and Neal Gorman, the current Grand Slam Record Holder. While other volunteers remain too numerous to mention here, charter sponsors cannot go recognized. This list of industry leaders included CLIF Bar, Injinji, Amphipod, Ortovox, Ortholite, and GreenLayer Sports. Three footwear brands stepped up to sponsor specific sections of the 100K course and make the $10,000 cash purse possible. Grateful acknowledgement goes to: INOV-8, SCOTT Running, and ALTRA Footwear. And to key partners Wintergreen Resort and Trail Runner magazine.

No post-race follow-up would be complete without recognizing UROC’s amazing competitors. Race organizers J. Russell Gill and Dr. Francesca Conte are inspired and humbled by the widespread support they received (and continue to receive) from elite runners for this event. Special thanks go to Geoff Roes, Andy Jones-Wilkins, Michael Wardian, Dave Mackey, Ian Sharman, and Dave James for their insightful suggestions/comments leading up to and following the event. Gill and Conte tapped into the racing community from the beginning, looking for advice and suggestions on how to create the best Ultra Distance Running Championship race possible. And that open door policy will continue into 2012 planning.

As will their ambition to continually raise the bar on race day video coverage–perhaps the most lasting feature of the the inaugural Trail Runner UROC. Emulating bigger sporting events, Bad to the Bone Media and Amoeba Films put together a video broadcast schedule enabling spectators to watch the race unfold online. Starting at 10am, the first video went live, showing footage from the start to the first aid station. Various other segments followed throughout the day, from the first runner (Geoff Roes with a winning time of 8 hours, 58 mins) to the last finisher to cross the line: Matt Nelson, Lake Worth, FL. All race day video segments, complete with step-by-step commentary can still be viewed online at along with pre-race athlete videos and Friday night’s elite athlete Q & A session. Jonathan Allen, UROC fifth place finisher had this to say after the race: “‘ Gill and Francesca’ did a great job with all aspects of the race- the course, aid stations, all the swag for elites and non-elites, all the pre-race festivities, the lasagna and mac and cheese at the finish line. Great, great, great.  My family loved the almost-live videos, and I spent most of the next day watching them once I returned home–very unique and well-done.”

For those with less time, head to the UROC homepage to view the 5-min race summary video. And cheers to ALL 2011 UROC runners, the men and women who, with their dedication, humility, and sportsmanship, reflect the true spirit of ultra distance running.

About Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports
By directing premiere trail and road running events in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia, Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports strives to motivate runners of all backgrounds to challenge themselves. For almost 10 years, Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports events have reflected owners Gill and Francesca’s decades-long knowledge and passion for running.

About Trail Runner magazine
As the leading publication for one of North America’s fastest growing sports, Trail Runner features in-depth editorial and compelling photography that informs, entertains and inspires readers of all ages and abilities to enjoy the outdoors and improve their health and fitness through trail running.