The DUC 100K is a race like no other. It’s so not like any other race that it’s not even like it was last year when I ran it! The race consists of an overnight 50K on Friday followed by the Algonquin 50K the next day. Each year the overnight race changes. It could be roads. It could be trails. It could be something else entirely. This year started off with 4 miles of something else entirely that I’d be willing to wager half the field had never run on before. Not only do you not know the course beforehand, you don’t even know where it’ll be until about an hour before you start. You literally have to be prepared for anything.

I was so blown away by the format last year that the race immediately went onto my Mt. Rushmore of ultra races with Eastern States, Old Dominion, and Laurel Highlands. I decided to come back this year and volunteer instead of running it again. Partly because I didn’t want to sully my unique experience with something to compare it to. Mostly though I wanted to support the race so other runners could have their own bespoke ultra experience.

The aid station I helped out.

Every time I volunteer at a race, I have so much fun that I walk away wondering why I don’t do it more often. In many ways, it’s almost as much fun as running the race without all the hassle (chafing, bonks, missed turns, etc.). Sure I’m “working” the aid station, but it’s not like I’m working working. Setting up and tearing down the aid station is most of the effort. Other than that you’re basically standing around grazing off the snack smorgasbord laid out for the runners. Halfway through the night, one of the other volunteers fired up the griddle and cooked quesadillas and bacon to go with all the sugary salty goodness. DUC is limited to 30 participants so there’s never a rush of activity. My biggest jobs throughout the night was checking runners in and making sure our fire didn’t go out.

That’s my fire!

Helping out this year also provided me a greater appreciation for all that goes on behind the scenes to put this race on. RD Gabe has to think up an entirely new course every year. This means the course has to be created from scratch over and over again. Some years he even literally cuts new trails to link up sections. This year in addition to marking the course, he went out and used a leaf blower to make sure the trails were clear and easily visible to all the runners. The amount of time and effort him and his team puts in to create this custom, one-of-a-kind course is just amazing.

I really can’t recommend this race enough. If you’re an experienced ultrarunner, you should definitely give it a try. Just don’t underestimate the course/format. The overnight 50K is always much more difficult than the Algonquin and I think it catches people by surprise. The night start is also different than most races so you’ll feel tired and be running slower much sooner than you’re used to. If you’re not careful, it can mess with your head. Heck, even if you are careful it’ll mess with your head. But if you’re up for a good challenge, you won’t find a cooler race around. Hope to see you out there next year!

2 thoughts on “DUC 100K: The Bespoke Ultra Experience”

  1. Thanks again Phil for the help anchoring the Naylor Mill aid station this year. Great write up, you have a fun writing style. Look forward to seeing you on the trail.

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