This year, I took off from racing, opting instead to run for fun and to support Laima as she made a more serious commitment to running. I am registered for one race, Thanksgiving Day's Bonfield Express, a local race that is our children's introduction to the 5K (Tazer and GaiGai both ran it last year). Looking forward to next year, I've looked at a few ultras that might be fun reintroductions to racing again. Active.com had a great article about seven races that would be good beginner races:
Frozen Sasquatch Trail 50K (Charleston, West Virginia - January 7, 2012): Limited to the first 150 runners, this 50K will take you through the most scenic, winter trails of the Kanawha State Forest. You'll battle it out with the elements--and yourself--for an experience you won't forget. Anything with the word frozen just isn't appealing to me at all at this point, facing many months of ugly running weather.
Long Haul 100 Ultra-Marathon (Wesley Chapel, Florida - January 21, 2012): Support the victims of the Haiti earthquake by participating in The Long Haul 100. This extreme race will test your endurance while treating you to scenic views. Wesley Chapel is north of Tampa, near where we lived in Florida, so it might be nice to revisit.
Susitna 100 or Little Su 50K (Anchorage, Alaska - February 18, 2012): Connect with nature as you race through remote forests, frozen rivers and lakes in the Alaskan wilderness on this ultrarunning adventure. Apart from always wanting to visit Alaska, this is also not overly appealing to me.
Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi Trail 50 (Laurel, Mississippi - March 3, 2012): Tackle Longleaf Horse Trail in the Desoto National Forest. The gently rolling pine forest has mostly single track with some double track logging roads to test your technical skills. This would be a chance to meet up with The Running Artist, Jennifer, so that would be quite cool!
Croom Fools Run 2012 (Brooksville, Florida - April 7, 2012): This race takes place at Croom within the Withlacoochee State Forest, which was named one of the "10 Coolest Places You've Never Been in North America" by the World Wildlife Fund. This also is in the same region of Florida that we once lived, so it would be a homecoming as well as a trip to one of the coolest places we've never been.
Zane Grey Highline Trail 50 Mile Run (Payson, Arizona - April 21, 2012): Now in its 23rd year, this ultrarunning event takes you on the beautiful Highline Trail. The trail is part of the Tonto National Forest and is filled with breathtaking scenery all runners can enjoy. I've heard nothing but good things about this race and going to Arizona at the end of Spring sounds really appealing. We could visit my wife's relatives as well.
2012 Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run (Willoughby Hills, Ohio - July 28, 2012): This epic 100-mile run held in Northeast Ohio runs through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Cleveland Metroparks and the Metro Parks. It will also feature some of the best ultrarunners around as it is also the USATF 100 Mile Trail National Championship. A chance to be around some of the current ultraruning legends, pretty cool!
Honestly, it's totally unlikely that I would register for any of the races on this list. What this list does for me is gets me pondering where I'd like to run. Also, how would it benefit me in visiting wineries from all the 50 States? (You didn't know I had a wine blog? Head over to the 50 States Of Wine to follow my journey!)