Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tongass 100

I've had this idea in my mind for a couple years now, but lately it's been moved more to the front of my mind. I want to put together a 100 mile route here around Juneau that might eventually become an actual race. The route I have in mind would likely be more difficult than Hardrock and certainly one of the most beautiful races in the world.



In it's infancy (next summer?) it would probably just be me scouting out and running the route as a test. If I could get one other person to do it with me I'd be stoked. If it became an actual event I would like to offer a 3 or 4 day stage race option. This way more than just a couple people might actual do it. The full 100 mile route would be so difficult that it might be an event more like Barkley than an actual 100 mile race. Unlike Barkley though this would not be a contrived route of numerous loops charging up hillsides for seemingly no reason other than to be really hard. This would be a point to point route that would be almost entirely singletrack trails and ridge running up above treeline. To connect it all together there would be a few miles of pavement, but other than that it would be running 90+ miles of the most appealing (and challenging) trails and mountains that I have ever run anywhere.

Anyone interested in running it with me next June?

29 comments:

Bryon Powell said...

I think I need me a road trip up the Pacific coast next spring.

Jill said...

You forgot to mention that your route also likely involves the crossing of a glacier.

Minor detail.

I for one will be super stoked if you pull this off. I want to run the aid station at Camp 17. I'll haul up extra sleeping bags and canisters of Hammer products and a big camp stove so I can melt snow for water.

Geoff said...

no worries about the glacier. it should be melted and gone by next year.

Anonymous said...

If I had any chance of keeping up, I would join.

Isn't the thing with the Barkley the amount of bushwacking? Are you proposing some balance between bushwacking and singletrack? Or are you saying more like the Barkley in that basically only a superhuman finishes every couple of years.

Regardless, sounds epic, a perfect excuse to come giv'er up north.

Geoff said...

this route wouldn't have very much bushwhacking at all. there would be one or two spots with short stretches of bushwhacking (less than 3 miles) but in early to mid june the brush would be almost non existent anyway. the most difficult thing with this route would be the amount of VERY STEEP climbing and running on ridges which would include some scrambling, tons of glissading, and constant up and down. i've run the entire route as individual segments. it's hard for me to guess at the amount of time and effort it would take to complete the entire thing but i do imagine it would be "easier" to finish than barkley. 28-35 hours would be my guess for the fastest guys.

Michael Owen said...

Other ultra's have so many entrants that this idea of "you're no guaranteed to get in no matter who you are" is bogus in my opinion.

It would be nice to get away from the politics and get back to the real idea of running: letting everyone who wants to run, run.

robert.blair said...

Geoff,

I hope you succeed in realizing this dream.

It sounds like it would be extremely tough (but runnable), and beautiful.

Just the type of route I like.

If I were not a dad now and, like anonymous shared, had any chance of keeping up, or staying even remotely close, I would join.

I am imagining grizzlies, moose and other wildlife along this course.

You've run in AK for years now.

Just how risky would this race be, in that regard, along the route you are thinking of creating?

This is a serious question, from someone who does not live in AK and has no idea.

I know lots of 100s that are run in areas where there's always the possibility of confronting a mountain lion, bear or rattlesnake, but a route up in AK in the Tongass would seem to ratchet the risk up a notch.

To you, and those who are fortunate enough to join you, I hope you have a great run, and finish safely.

blake said...

That sounds like so much fun Geoff. I can't keep up with you for scouting the route, but count me in for the race - especially if you organize a multi-day race over the course. Hope to see you at MMTR in two weeks.

Alaskan Assassin said...

I am in.

Brian Gatens said...

Make it the last week in June so that school principals by day and ultra runners by night can come and join in the fun (after school closes for the summer)

just sayin'

Geoff said...

robert,
no moose around here. the chance of seeing a bear along this route would also be very low. and any bears would almost certainly be black bears. in 3 years of running this area almost every day i have seen only a few bears while out running. stepping on a porcupine would be a much larger concern than bears or moose.

brian, the last week in june would almost certainly be when i would do it, or the second to last weekend. that's the perfect time for snow conditions and to maximize daylight. also this race would probably depend on decent weather and late june is statistically the dryest time of year here. problem with rain is it almost always brings with it a cloud ceiling around 2,500 feet. huge portions of this race would be above 2,500 and virtually impossible to navigate is socked in clouds. i would probably try to get a gps track of the entire route and require people to carry a gps with them that they can load the software onto. even then it would probably only be prudent to attempt this route if/when the weather cooperated. in late june there is a good chance of that, but it's not a sure thing.

Anonymous said...

I, and other Juneau runners too, train regularly on much of this route (often with Geoff), won't be able to keep up with Geoff if it turns into a real race (which I doubt), and will probably try and run it. So don't let the can't-keep-up-with-Geoff's-Wasatch-time thing keep you from coming.

-Dan

Dave said...

I'm listening.

OldGoat said...

Having lived in Juneau for a year, I'm a bit of a skeptic. Yes, when the sun shines, it's jaw-dropping gorgeous country. Realistically, odds are much better of day after day of shorts-soaking, socked-in, mind-numbing rain and clouds half way down the mountain sides. Not that it wouldn't be a world-class run in the most rugged and beautiful mountains on earth, but go with the expectation of getting, and staying, wet.

Geoff said...

oldgoat makes a good point. it is pretty much always wet in juneau, especially when applying an outsider's perspective. even if the sun shines for several day on end i tend to get wet (at the minimum wet feet) on almost every run i do. it is a rainforest after all. if you don't like water then you very much don't want to do this run. that said though, june is the driest time of year here and there is a better chance of beautiful sunshine that time of year than there is of heavy rain. this june we had about 15 days with rain and 15 without, but over half of the rainy days were less than .1" the rain should not be a concern with running this route. the low clouds which so often accompany the rain are a concern but the rain itself is only a problem if you think it is.

Speedgoat Karl said...

HMMMMMMMMMMM!

robert.blair said...

Glad that unfriendly animal encounters don't seem like a major probability, and hope you all have a great run when this actually happens.

Bryan said...

Geoff,

I'm familiar with just about all of the route except connecting Heintzlman to Lemon Glacier. In a 100 miles this accounts for just a few(~10?), but could be critical to realizing the dream of making this an actual event. Snow and glacier travel will no doubt be an important consideration to weigh heavily on.
June is definitely the most reliable for dry weather but there is also typically a lot of snow which can be both a blessing and a curse. There are going to be some areas where an ice axe might be needed to save one's ass in a slip.
Your route idea is awesome, but imagine mere mortals(i.e. not you) stumbling around after 75 miles in some serious no fall zones.
I'm into vetting this with you and tossing around alternate route ideas.

Bryan

The Gleasons said...

G,

Great blog and great idea. I have a sister who lives in Wrangell and we have been working on a "Fat Ass" style ultra there next summer. Would gladly put those efforts towards rocking the Tongass. The tougher the better.

Geoff said...

karl,
glad to see this got your attention. i was actually going to call you last night to chat with you about this a bit. this route would be right up your alley... and you would rock on it. and it would be a great AT training run for you, if you're planning on giving that another stab next year. i'd be really stoked if you wanted to come up and run. with the interest people seem to have in this maybe it could be more of an actual race in it's first year than i ever imagined. i can guarantee you that the route/terrain/scenery would not dissapoint.

bryan,
thanks for the feedback. certainly the heintlzelman to blackerby stretch is the crux, but if i can't find what seems like a safe and reliable way through there (which i almost certainly won't be able to) then i have a very nice plan B for that area. and other than that area i really don't think there is anywhere that an axe would be needed, or even all that helpful. probably the steepest snow would be getting from clark to sheep but in june the snow is so soft that it should be really easy to navigate. it's still very much a dream, but it sure is fun to be getting all this feedback. it seems more and more likely to happen with each person that gets drawn into the conversation that i've had going on in my head for a couple years now.

Alaskan Assassin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glenn said...

From the map link, it looks like the course tops out around 4,500', so no acclimation would be needed unlike Hardrock. Nice for lowlanders. Hey, I love Silverton and all, it's just that if I spend anymore time there, the state of Colorado will start coming after me for state income tax.

Someone's got to say this - at 28-35 hours estimated for the fastest runners, the Tongass 100 may be called the Longass 100.

GMack

Bryan said...

As far as an ice axe, i'm just thinking about some of the exposure on this route. Coming down Observation when I've done it has been ok without snow. Still some hazards, but with snow the slip and 'see ya' potential is a good bit higher. It's something everyone who thinks about these ridges has to consider especially being out there in running shoes.
I like the Tongass Longass 100 even though they don't really ryhme. Some who know the area are apt to call it the Badass or maybe Dumbass 100.

worm said...

geoff, i'd be interested in coming down from a-town if the dates work out. sounds awesome. everything's bigger in ak, eh?

Cellarrat said...

Huuummm looks like a way rad deal... other then that whole running thing ;)

might be into doing an aid station

still figuring out what my big trip is for 2010...

Hart said...

i'd be into that.

Anonymous said...

Keep Me Posted! I am there. Looks fantastic.

Joseph Lea said...

Oh Hell yeah. Who do I make the check out to?

dmitry@sg said...

Hi, I understand that it is very old post. Have you done the route? If so do you have gpx to share? The route looks interesting for me to do during summer(not necessary as run but likely as fast hike) and the main issue here would be getting lost...as area is not heavily populated.