Flat Rock 50 km, near Independence, Kansas; 24 September 2005

By Dave Scott


Recently. I seem to have been reading a lot of race reports where the

author is just having no fun at all. That is, unless he/she only derives

pleasure from self-inflicted pain. These suffer-fests, I suggest, hardly

make for inspiring reading. So, bearing this in mind, I present my report

of the Flat Rock 50K with eight Reasons to be Cheerful ...


1. It is a very scenic route. The run is an out-and-back course on a

trail which follows a small limestone escarpment, bordering a reservoir

in a remote area of Southeast Kansas. There is varied scenery as one

runs over, under and through the rock formations, with occasional vistas

across the lake from the tops of little cliffs (it is advisable to walk

if admiring the view, to avoid tripping and flying over the edge). The

trail crosses through woodlands and open grassy areas filled with wild



2. I got to run an extra 10% on this very scenic terrain. It is difficult

(or embarrassing) to explain why, but I missed a turn in the trail just

before the turn-around, and yet I was certain I was in the right place

(it was similar to experiences I have had orienteering, where one starts

to fit the map to where one thinks one is, and then one ends up in the

wrong valley). So I started back for the return leg without finding the

midway aid station. But later, after meeting someone who had just come

from the aforesaid aid station , I decided to do the race properly and

ran all the way back to the turn-around. Therefore:


3. I did not get disqualified. I also finished, and in good order, albeit

slowly. It was a hot and humid day, and some had a rougher time of it than me.


4. I only fell once, which is not too much cause for celebration, but

this was one fall better than my previous Flat Rock experience. It was a

bit of a bruiser, and the kind people at the aid stations kept offering

me Band-Aids for my scraped elbow, but it did not really hurt, and no

permanent damage was done. After falling, I was really careful to watch

where I was putting my feet so I did not take another tumble.


5. My training paid off. Doing long runs of two hours or more during the

long hot summer helped me deal with the conditions. The five-hour-plus

run I did on the Greenrock trail three weeks beforehand was especially

useful. The Greenrock, the trails in west Tyson, and the upper trails in

Castlewood were all useful for getting used to running over rocks. This

last weekend (October 1), I ran a 10-mile race in the Wild in the Woods

series, and although I felt a bit (excuse the expression) sluggish at the

start, endurance was certainly not a problem and I ended up placing. I

forget exactly how wrecked I was after my last Flat Rock, but I am sure I

was not racing the next weekend.


6. Wes, one of my friends from Champaign, remarks that, for someone of

his age, my finishing time was pretty good. Well, Wes is 20 years older

than me (i.e., 64) and I ran my slowest 50K by almost an hour (that’s

including some 50K’s that were more like 60K) - but then I should not

have to worry about breaking this particular personal (worst) record for

a few years.


7. There was a good group of Champaign and ex-Champaign runners (The

Buffalo) there and it was a pleasure to hang out and drink a beer with

them again after the race. There were also two other Slugs there - Paul

Shoenlaub ran an excellent race as always, finishing second in just over

five hours (I think that running 100 milers is probably good training for

Flat Rock). Don Love I caught on the course with about 7 miles to go

(after he had overtaken me during my mid-race excursion). I regret that I

did not hang around and run in with him - I was still moving relatively

well at that stage and wanted to get finished, while he ended up retiring

at the last aid station after a bruising encounter with a tree. Before

we parted, he reminded me of the Ryerse mantra, “relentless forward

progress” which kept running through my head, urging me on, during the

last few, slow, miles.


8. Ultrarunning has more than its fair share of eccentrics, and Eric

Steele, race organizer and the self-styled King of Flat Rock, may be

included in that number. The post-race awards concluded with Eric,

dressed in cape and Burger King crown, inducting a new member (the

fourth) of the Flat Rock “Hall of Pain” - this distinction being awarded

to those that have completed the 50K in ten consecutive years. While that

is an honor that I doubt I will ever aspire to, this is a fun race that I

would certainly recommend. Just watch where you are putting your feet.