For anyone who is looking to add a race or two to your schedule for 2012 here are a couple that I highly recommend:
First, coming up next month is the Chuckanut 50k. This one has been around long enough (this year is the 20th year of the race!) that most of you have probably at least heard of it. What many people might not know though is that Chuckanut is hoping to go really big this year to celebrate their 20th anniversary. As of last month, the race was able to secure permit space to go up to 1,000 participants! This will make Chuckanut the largest 50k (maybe even largest ultra of any distance??) in the country. Right now they have almost 700 entrants. Why then do I encourage you to grab one of the remaining 300 spaces? Chuckanut is such a perfect early season race. It's not the most challenging 50k you are ever going to run, but it's certainly not the easiest either. It has a great mix of very fast terrain and very challenging, slow terrain. Beyond the course itself though, is the enjoyment of the entire event. I've been to nearly 30 different races all around the country and Chuckanut is without question one of the most enjoyable I've been a part of. So much so that I am planning to be there this year even if I'm not running. I'm currently signed up to run, but being that the race is only three weeks after the start of the Iditarod Invitational it would take some kind of miracle (or disaster in the Iditarod) for me to actually race Chuckanut this year. Instead I plan to be there as a "fan" and a race volunteer. Hopefully I can help motivate Dave, Max, Erik, Mike, Adam, etc, to take down my course record so I have extra motivation for Chuckanut in 2013.
And then in September is the new Run Rabbit Run 100. This is one a lot of people probably heard about when it was announced in the Fall, but then not much has been said about it since then, as much focus shifted to the big lottery races (Western States, Hardrock, UTMB, etc), as it always does in Jan/Dec/Feb. The lottery dust has settled now though, and for anyone who is looking at a gap in their schedule in September I would highly recommend this race. This race has so many things going for it that make it very appealing: Steamboat Springs is such a great mountain town to spend some time in - I can't think of a better town to host an event like this. Many people get nervous about first year races, and tend to wait until the second or third year to let the wrinkles get ironed out. The good thing about Run Rabbit Run though is that they have been putting on a very well run 50 miler for 5 years now. Yes, this will be the first year of the 100, but don't expect it to feel like a first year race. If you're at all interested in the competitive aspect of races, this one is going to be super exciting. The total prize purse is currently at $22,000 (and certain to increase throughout the year), and this has drawn some great runners into the mix. Already, in it's first year, and with the race still more than 6 months away, this race is looking like it will be one of the most competitive 100 milers ever run. More than anything though, like Chuckanut, this is just a super enjoyable event to be a part of. I have been at each of the last two Run Rabbit Run 50 milers, and can't think of anywhere I'd rather be in mid September than at this race. The atmosphere is super comfortable, and it's just one of those events that does a great job of enabling everyone to have a really good time.
You might wonder, why am I seemingly randomly encouraging people to check out these two races? It's simply that they are both very fun races, on awesome trails, in really fun towns, put on by a lot of really great people, and I can't think of any races I want to see succeed more than these two. In other words they are much like any other races I've recommended in the past (UROC, Crow Pass, Bear 100, etc.): Classics (or classics to be) that I think everyone should run at some point. Hope to see you there.