Latest reviews by scott snell

(2018)
"Back to Iowa for a 100 Miler"
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I had a hard time believing that the 2018 Mine of Spain was the inaugural year of the event. It was so well organized, ran so smoothly, and had such great support that it seemed like a trail race event that has been around for years and is well established. I think the race director, Joshua Sun, has created something really special here and I'm excited to watch it grow and develop into its full potential. I dare say that I believe it could become a premier trail race in the Midwest.

The course is mostly trail, but also mostly runnable. The event offers 100k and 100 mile distances on a 20 mile course. The course is a mix of loops and out and backs with plenty of well stocked aid stations along the way. The scenery is diverse and much more scenic than I was expecting for a 20 mile course in Iowa. Having grown up in Iowa only about an one hour drive from where the course is and having never visited the area, I was shocked by the crazy rock walls of the old quarry that the course takes you through. And if your expecting a flat 100 miler in Iowa, the 14,000 feet of gain at Mines of Spain will also surprise you. The swag was pretty generous in my opinion, with a High Desert drop bag, shirt, collapsible cup, sticker, finisher medallion, and the biggest 100 mile finisher buckle I've ever received shaped like the state of Iowa!

If you're in the Midwest and are looking for a fun, well organized 100 miler or 100k, I would highly recommend checking out the Mines of Spain.

Read my full race report at:
https://scottcsnell.blogspot.com/2018/11/2018-mines-of-spain-100-mile-footrace.html

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(2018)
"Fueled by Candy Corn and Mountain Dew"
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The 2018 Squatchung Surprise was an inaugural event. However, given the level of organization I witnessed there you would have never known it. First off, the race format is unique and unlike any race format I have run before. Basically every runner is randomly assigned one of four trail loops to run for the duration of the event so every runners’ race will be a little different. You may end up running the same two loops all day or you may end up running all four loops one or two times each. It is almost completely random. Almost. The event takes place at the Watchung Reservation in Union County, NJ and offers three race options: 5k, 3 hour, and 6 hour. I chose to run the 6 hour option and was using this race as a fun way to get in my final long training run before my 100 mile “A” race for the year. The trails at the reserve were all pretty much entirely runnable making it a great course for newer trail runners to up their distance. The timed event options add to the attractiveness of this event for runners who are looking to shoot for their longest distance run to date. The aid station fare was pretty standard ultramarathon fare, but no gels offered. There was plenty of parking available at the reservation and bathrooms were just a short walk from the start finish area. Race swag was pretty good with a cool Sasquatch carabiner mug and a sticker (no shirt). The race format made this a really fun event to run as the front runners, middle of the packers, and back of the packers from both the 3 and 6 hour events all crossed paths at multiple time throughout the day.

Read my full race report at: https://scottcsnell.blogspot.com/2018/10/fueled-by-candy-corn-and-mountain-dew.html

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(2018)
"2018 Twisted Branch 100k"
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I ran the 2018 Twisted Branch 100k as a replacement race for the Eastern States 100 miler which was cancelled this year. As disappointing as that was, the good to come from the situation was that I discovered a new trail race that I may have never run otherwise. And what a great trail race it was! TB 100k has pretty much everything that I look for in a trail race: great organization, beautiful scenery along the course, well stocked aid stations, awesome volunteers, an encouraging community, and terrain that won't let you become bored. While it is primarily trail, the course does have some short intermittent road sections that connect the trail sections. It's a point to point race so that adds a bit more to the logistics for the runners and spectators, but the race organizers did a great job of providing shuttles and maps of checkpoints. While the course was not easy, I would also say the terrain was not the most challenging I've run either. It may be a tough first 100k for beginning trail runners, but by no means would I discourage any first time 100k runners from making this their first go at the distance.

Here's the link to my full race report: https://scottcsnell.blogspot.com/2018/09/2018-twisted-branch-100k.html

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(2018)
"Fat Sass Switchback Challenge 6 Hour Event"
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This was the inaugural year of the Fat Sass Switchback Challenge. The race offered runners 5k, 3 hour, or 6 hour event options. It was managed as a "fat ass" style event, which typically means no entry fee, no swag, and no support. However, in place of an entry fee the race organizers asked that runners donate to a local charity. They also provided water so there was some aid there. Additionally, a community aid station was designated for runners to contribute to which turned out to be pretty well stocked with most of the standard ultra fare.

I want to address some of the average to lower scores I gave for the event. For T-shirts/swag the score really wasn't applicable as it was a no frills, "fat ass" style event, but the race organizers did have a swag for individual purchase table set up. What was there was cool, but not included with the entry fee of $0. Aid stations, same story again. It wasn't expected to be provided by the organizers in this format, but the the community aid station donated by runners was pretty dang well stocked. Scenery: it was a pretty area following some nice trails, but seeing the same slightly longer than one mile loop for 27 miles over the course of six hours gets a bit old. I likely would have rated it higher if I had run the 5k option. The parking in the actual park was pretty limited, but the lot just across the street had plenty spots.

Read my full race report at: https://scottcsnell.blogspot.com/2018/08/2018-fat-sass-switchback-challenge-six.html

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(2018)
"Two Years, Two Buckles"
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Worlds End Ultramarathon is an extremely well organized event that showcases some of the best of what the PA Wilds have to offer. If you're traveling and need overnight accommodations, I recommend camping at Worlds End State Park. It is a short drive from the campgrounds to the start finish area of the race. Just be sure to reserve far in advance as the sites fill up quickly with runners.

The trails that this race uses are rugged, technical, and not for beginning trail runners in my opinion. With the 19 hour cutoff that the race officials enforce, if you don't make decent time throughout the day you may get pulled from the course. If you're just getting into trail running, I'd suggest giving the 50k a try before going all in for the 100k distance. As brutal as the trails are, they will take you to some of the most beautiful vistas at the top of the climbs (of which there are many) and past many scenic creeks and small falls.

After two consecutive years of running the 100k distance, I have no complaints about this race and highly recommend it to any trail runners looking for a challenging and beautiful single loop course.

Read my full race report at http://scottcsnell.blogspot.com/2018/07/2018-worlds-end-100k.html

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