Start-finish location: Alcoa High School, 1205 Lodge Street, Alcoa, TN 37701. There is a map on this website Course page. Or you can GPS it from your location.
Parking: There is free parking at the start/finish and at several points around the Greenway Trail. The hundo and 100K runners will have priority parking in the school main parking lots closest to the courses. That way they can self support out of their vehicle, if needed. (Support canopies/tents are not allowed in the parking lot. See section below on Aid Stations for where to erect them.) There will be a section designated specifically for small RV's close to the new high school. The 50ker's 10 and 50 milers will be parked a bit further away in the parking lots to the north on both sides of Lodge Street near the original high school and ball field. Please follow the directional signage and parking volunteers directions. Remember, it will likely be dark when you arrive, so be particularly observant and careful. Thanks for your compliance. (For the exact layout, see the Start/Finish Parking Map link on the Course page.)
Weather: The middle of March can be anything from bitterly cold to balmy, but the most probable weather is somewhere between really cold (20-30s) with occassional ice or snow to sunny and warmer (40-60s). Or it could be miserable (30s/40s with rain). Sometimes we have clear skies….sometimes not. The saying here is if you don't like the current weather, stick around for a few minutes. It will change! The record high for mid March is 82°F, the record low is 6°F. The mid March average hi/low is 61°F/39°F.
Qualifications: None required! ☺ Well, actually there is a major one. You must be able to read and accurately follow directions, signs, and course markings. We have discovered that this is a major challenge for some people. There are various distances all running concurrently on the same course. Each race has it's own unique number and length of laps. It is your responsibility to make sure you completely understand and follow the correct directions for the distance you are running. While the volunteers may have some idea, they are not responsible for your accuracy. Make sure you have the appropriate gear. If you have never run an ultra, grab a friend or two and sign up for the relay (3 laps). Even though one complete lap is only about 10.3 miles long, you can get an idea of what running an ultra takes. If that's still too much or you want to run solo, then pick the mini Pistol 10 miler, or the family fun run/walk 1 miler that everyone can do.
Permitted Ages: All ages are permitted. Click here for the rules. Scroll down to the section "Permitted Ages".
Medical Check: There are two requirements to pass the medical examination.
1. Is your heart beating?
2. Can you fog a mirror?
(We’ll take your word on both of these! ☺ )
Shirts: Your registration fee includes a good quality short sleeve tech shirt (gender specific) and hat.
Local Time Zone: All times are stated in Eastern Daylight Savings Time.
Pre-race Check-in/Packet Pick-up: Friday from 2:00-6:00 PM and Saturday 6:30-7:30 AM at the Alcoa High School - "The Pistol Corral". (The 10 and 50 mile race packet pick-up can also be done for one hour just prior to their respective start times in the Pistol Corral in the commons area in the school.) YOU MUST BE PRESENT TO SIGN THE WAIVER AND PICK UP YOUR BIB (INSURANCE REQUIREMENT). NO EXCEPTIONS! Thanks for your understanding and cooperation. While picking up your bib, make sure we have your correct distance, name, address, and other info. You will also get your shirt, swag bag, any other applicable registration add-ons, and freebies. For fun, predict your finishing time. How accurate can you be? There will be a marksmanship award for the runner coming the closest. If you registered, but can't make it to the event and want someone else to pick up your swag (not including bib), use only the contact portal on this website (link here) to notify us (no emails, messages, calls, etc) by Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Give us your registered name, registered email address, registered distance, and the name of the person picking up for you. Tell them to come through the line and give your name and we'll do the rest for you. We're going to miss you!
Athena/Clydesdale Runners: (This is available for all distances except the 1 mile family fun run/walk.) The Athena option is available for female runners weighing 165 lbs or more. The Clydesdale option is available for male runners weighing 220 pounds or more. All runners wishing to compete as Athena/Clydesdale, must go to the Athena/Clydesdale check-in station in "The Pistol Corral" and get weighed in their race outfit during these times: 50K, 100K, 100 milers - Saturday 6:30-7:30 AM, 50 milers - Saturday 7-7:45 PM, 10 milers - Sunday 7-7:45 AM. Those wearing additional clothes or carrying additional items during weigh-in may be ineligible to compete in this classification. Note that all who choose to compete as Athena/Clydesdale will not be eligible for age group awards. The Athena Clydesdale First Place awards will be presented to the fastest male/female official finisher in each solo distance.
Goody bag/shirt/meal tickets: Your race goody bag and meal ticket (if purchased) will be available at check-in. If you won't be able to pick it up, please email us ahead of time and let us know. Also let us know if you are designating someone to pick up your swag bag/shirt for you. We will need their name. Your swag bag, shirt, etc. will not be mailed or available after the event. As much as we'd love to, we simply do not have the staff and funds to do this.
Free Gear Swap: We will have a gear swap table in "The Pistol Corral" in the school. Bring any gently used, clean running gear that you are no longer using and would like to bless someone else with. And if you are needing something, be sure to check it out. You can't beat the price!
Mini-Expo: There will be vendors with product/service info and possible samples for you to try/look at. (Friday from 2:00-6:00 PM at the Alcoa High School commons area - "The Pistol Corral".)
Guest Speaker Workshop: Speaker/author Catra Corbett will be presenting an optional workshop Friday 2:30-4 PM. Are you battling addictions, dietary issues, depression, or other mental challenges. Do you want to turn your life around? Do you want to know what it will take to finish your first ultra run? Or are you ready to go really big? Whatever you’re facing, this is a rare, very inexpensive chance to learn how Catra Corbett did it, and how you can too. Not only what it takes to just succeed, but to excel! Attendees also get a free poster. Click here to reserve your seat.
Prerace Meeting: There will be a pre-race meeting at 5:00 PM at the Alcoa High School auditorium. It is STRONGLY recommended that all runners, crews, etc. be there for the final updates. Speaker/author Catra Corbett will be our keynote speaker.
If you absolutely cannot make it Friday, there will be minimal check-in from 6:00-7:30 AM Saturday before the initial race. (The 10 and 50 mile race packet pick-up can also be done for one hour just prior to their respective start times.) However, you will not have any of the final updates from the pre-race meeting or be eligible for the door prizes and other awards given out Friday.
Friday Pre-Race Meal: During your UltraSignUp registration process, you are given the option of purchasing $10 meal tickets for the pre-race pasta dinner (meat and vegetarian options) at the host school cafeteria from about 6-7 PM Friday, December 30. Additional people are always welcome! Be sure and purchase them during the UltraSignUp registration/checkout process as there are a very limited quantity available for sale during the Friday check-in.
Drop Bags: You can place a drop bag inside the school in the commons area near the start/finish area or just work out of your vehicle. You will pass by it about every 10 miles or less. The parking is beside the course and is lit at nighttime. There will be designated open air areas near the Start/Finish where you can set up a self support table/canopy/tent, if you wish. These will likely be located on the grass. (See section on Aid Stations below.) First come first served. Store your valuables in your car out of sight. If you leave items at the school or elsewhere, please put your name on them. You may place a small one at the Woody Aid Station if you wish. We do not collect/haul drop bags to any location(s) and are not responsible for anyone's belongings.
Start/Finish Area: Right in front of the Alcoa High School east side entrance. The check-in/expo area will be located in the school commons - "The Pistol Corral". The doors to it are probably about 300 feet away from the main aid station. It is also very close to the course. Family members, crew, pacers, etc. are welcome to stay inside the heated school or outside during the event (excluding directly on the course or in the runner/support staff/volunteer warming areas). There are tables, chairs, and floor space available in the school to use after the race has started. There will be a designated electronics charging table. Typically there is free wi-fi available. The school and surrounding outside areas are lit at night time.
Saturday Pre-race Food: The indoor food service area is called The Pistol Cafe. There will be some fresh bagels, bananas, etc starting about 6:30 AM Saturday. There will also be water and Tailwind sport drink available.
Saturday Pre-race Preliminaries: At approximately 7:30 AM, the Alcoa Schools Superintendant will welcome everyone inside The Pistol Corral, there will be a few last minute updates and checks will presented to the charities we raise monies for. Then we will move outside to the starting line, sing the National Anthem will be sung, and the starter's pistol will fire!
Timing: Solo runners will be using disposable bibs with the timing chip built into the back. Relay runners will have either a team bib with an integrated chip or a baton with an integrated timing chip that they will exchange with team members. In accordance with USATF official sactioning, all official results, placement, and awards are based on gun time. If you think you will place, start accordingly.
Start Times: 50K solo and relay: 7:55 AM Saturday. 100K and 100 Miler: 8 AM Saturday. 50 Miler: 8 PM Saturday. 10 Miler: 7:55 AM Sunday. 1 Miler: 8 AM Sunday. Races will begin when the starter pistol fires.
Reasons Why The 50 Miler Begins at 8 PM: As with most decisions, there are always pros and cons. After careful analysis and discussion among our staff, here are some of the reasons why we set it up this way:
- We want to maintain a comfortable "family" feel to the race, not a cattle stampede. We don't want to overload the course first thing Saturday. Keeping it a top quality event is paramount. Right now it's at a comfortable level.
- We also want to maintain a high level of aid station support and don't want to overload them first thing Saturday.
- The Pistol is a great venue for runners to try something they haven't done before. Some want to experience running through the night in a "safe" venue, not cut their teeth on some hairy mountainous trail run where their life insurance policy may be needed. It provides a way for these runners to try night running without having to try tackling a hundo right off.
- It gives the opportunity for some really "crazy" runners to tackle the Double Barrel Challenge: Complete the 50K (or possibly even the 100K!) in the morning, then the 50 miler that night, for which they'll score a really cool award. (See Awards.)
- It gives the hundo runners new faces and 50 miler "pacers" to join them during the night.
- It provides the opportunity for the 50 milers to run with the hundo runners and learn how to tackle longer distances.
- It provides the hundo runners with encouragement and additional runners on the course during the night.
- The staff and volunteers are already in place for the hundo runners, and can handle the additional 50 milers.
- It helps spread the finishers out more uniformly over the entire event so we can provide more support, encouragement, and recognition to each.
- It helps fill in the number of runners crossing the finish line later in the event and keep the energy level up.
Trail Conditions: Depending on the weather, the paved trail can be dry, or have icy patches, particularly on wooden bridges, or may have snow/ice on part or all of it. If there have been recent rains or it rains during the event, flooding is possible. You may have to detour off the course just long enough to cross over the road overpasses where the trail is flooded underneath. If so, be particularly cautious and yield to all traffic. Be prepared for anything and use extreme caution if the conditions warrant it! (More info under About>Course.)
Dangerous Weather: The safety of our runners and volunteers is extremely important. If there is lightning, strong winds, or other potentially dangerous weather in the area, those out on the course or outside at the start/finish area are strongly encouraged to immediately take cover and shelter in place until it is safe to return. Since the course is approximately 5 miles long, there is no way to immediately extract all runners, or immediately call the race. While the race management will attempt to notify those potentially in harm's way, it is the responsibility of each individual runner, pacer, and volunteer to monitor the conditions and take whatever action is necessary to maintain their personal safety. If such weather happens just prior to the scheduled start of a race, the start of that race may have a weather delay until the race management deems it is safe to start, based on the available information. If the race management determines that the weather delay is long enough, they will annnouce if the race cut-off will be extended, or the race canceled altogether.
Aid Stations: NOTE! Aid stations and warming areas are only for registered runners, their active pacer at the time, and race volunteers/support staff. All others will need to courteously avoid these runner designated areas so registered runners can have full, unimpeded access/use. Help us keep the runners #1. Thanks! The Foothill Striders will be hosting the main aid station at the start/finish by the school. They will have a great selection of yummy drinks and foods for the duraiton of the race. There will be a specific area designated for runners to set up their own tables/canopies/tents/personal, self supported warming stations/etc. nearby as well. MAXIMUM CANOPY SIZE IS 10'X10' PER REGISTERED RUNNER. First come first served. Electrical outlets are not available for use. DO NOT DRIVE ANY STAKES INTO THE GROUND AS THERE ARE BURIED UTILITIES AND SPRINKLER LINES! And please, clean up after you are done. We have been left with some real messes, broken pop-up tents, etc by some very inconsiderate people in the past. The Knoxville Track Club and Perennial Ponds have teamed up to have a water stop about 2 miles from the start. They will have water, Tailwind, sodas, and some snacks (not hot/prepared foods). And of course the Woody's will have their near world famous aid station about 4 miles into the course. Word is that it will be be even more awesome this year! So...you will pass an aid station about every 2 miles or less. Talk about being spoiled!
Medical: There are no ongoing medical checks. There will be a first aid kit at each aid station. Minor First Aid services are provided by medical personnel at the Start/Finish area and Woody's aid station during Saturday night. If you're in really bad shape, there is a hospital is just down the road. There are some funeral homes close by too! ☺ You are responsible for your own well being. WE DO NOT SUPPLY OR RECOMMEND THE USE OF PAIN RELEIVERS SUCH AS NSAIDs, ACETAMINOPHEN, ETC DURING AN ULTRA. Bring your own pain meds, foot care, Hot Hands, Band-Aids, Vaseline, or whatever else you may think you need. Try to keep it legal though. ☺ There are 24-hour drug stores close by too.
Runner Aids/Pets: Runners/pacers may NOT participate with dogs (or other pets), roller blades, skateboards, bicycles (excluding volunteers and pacers starting at dark Saturday evening), other mechanical devices, or anything which the race management deems may give you and unfair advantage or dangerous to you or other participants or users of the trail system upon which this event is held. The race management may remove violaters from the event.
Pacers: You are welcome to have one non-registered runner pace you, even from the start. Please be sure they park only in the 50K/50 mile designated areas. (See Start/Finish Parking Map link) You can bring one…or two…or even three pacers to the event, but only one at a time are permitted on the course. They must stay with you and wear your numbered pacer bib visible to the front at all times. That bib will only be available for you to get at the pre-race check-in. Be sure and ask for it if you are having a pacer. By signing the waiver and participating in the event, you will assume all liability and responsibility for your pacer(s) at all times during the event. On duty pacers are entitled to the same services as the registered runners...as long as their bib is fully visible to the front. When changing pacers, be sure the bib gets transferred to the new pacer. Anyone without a registered runner bib, or a valid pacer bib, or who is not a registered volunteer for that specific location/time, will not be entitled to any of the event support and will not be permitted in any areas designated for registered event participants during the race. This includes (but is not limited to) aid stations, warming stations, all food and drink support, and any other event related service or support. (See the next section entitled Bandits.) Pacers are for mental support, not physical support (unless you fall in the creek!). So...no muling! Due to the number of participants during the early part of the race, bicycle pacing will not be permitted during daylight hours on Saturday, only a single pacer on foot. If the runner has no foot pacer, a single bike pacer per runner will be permitted only during Saturday night and anytime Sunday. Bike pacers will need to have lighting at nighttime (front and rear), use extreme caution, and give right-of-way to all other foot and vehicular traffic. Bicyclists, please adjust front lighting down at nighttime so it does not shine into the eyes of oncoming runners. Bike pacers must wear the numbered pacer bib facing forward and abide by the same requirements as a foot pacer.
Our volunteer sign up site has time slots available for volunteer pacers starting every hour from 9 PM Saturday though 10 AM Sunday. They are instructed to be at the main aid station near the Start/Finish line. If you need one, ask when you first come through heading up to complete the short out-n-back past the school. If there is one available, this will give them time to be ready when you return back though a mile or so later.
Bandits: The registration fee for each runner (and their pacer, if applicable) does not cover any support costs for other non-paying runners/participants (bandits). Please be honest, considerate, and respectful of the incredible amount of time, work, and money that goes into putting this event on. If you want to be a part of the race, please do the right thing and pay your fair share by registering. Those still insisting on "banditing" will be subject to disqualification from all future events.
Nighttime course support: There may be a bicyclist or two that will patrol the course and provide limited assistance, if needed.
Water/sport drink: There are limited places to get water along the trail (some water fountains - but they may not be functional that time of year - there is also water in the heated restrooms) and we will have water/sport drink at the start-finish, the KTC/Perennial Ponds half way water stop, and the Woody's aid station. We are excited to have Tailwind nutritional drink available on the course again this year!
This is a cupless event! As environmentally conscious stewards of our planet, bring your own hydration container(s). You will be helping us save thousands of cups from needlessly filling up our landfill. We will have cups starting Saturday night for items such as sodas, soup, hot drinks, etc.
Course Food: The usual ultra fare: Gels (mostly Honey Stinger and GU), oranges, bananas, hot broth, salty/sweet foods, PBJ’s, etc. There may be a few additional surprises. Progressing into Saturday night and Sunday, there will be heated items such as soups, grilled cheese sandwiches, burritos, etc. Specialty items can often be short order cooked to your specifications while you complete the loop past the aid station. Then you can pick it up as you pass back by. If you absolutely must have something in particular, you will want to bring it. If you feel like bringing some food to share, we’ll put it on the table for all. There are 24/7 stores (including Kroger and Wal-Mart) close by too, if you or your crew need to purchase any special food items.
Restrooms: There are heated restrooms at the school that will be available for the duration of the event. There are also some at a couple locations along the Greenway. We have asked for them to be unlocked during this event. No guarantees though. There are showers available across the road in the original high school. There will also be several Port-a-jons by the start/finish for those wanting to make a quick pit stop while racing. Also a couple at the midway point and at the Woody Aid Station. (See map link on Course page for locations.)
Lighting: There are several road crossings and you will share the trail with bicyclists. It will be essential for those running at nighttime to have a headlight facing forward and/or reflective clothing, so those approaching can see you. A rear facing red flashing light is recommended for those running at night time. We don't want any casualties!
Results: Laps will be recorded electronically by bib timing chips. There will be timing mats at the start/finish and at or near each end of the course. Make sure you cross them so your time is recorded correctly. We plan to have near live results updating periodically on the website during the event as well. Of course there are no promises as we can't control cyberspace. Your results will be submitted to UltraSignup.com and sent to UltraRunning magazine.
Dropping Down or Going Up in Distance: Good news! We will let you change your mind. If your circumstances have changed prior to registration close, simply email us indicating what distance you're changing to. If going down, there are no refunds. If going up, you will need to pay the price difference from what you originally paid to what the current price is for the distance your changing to. Once received, we will change your registration accordingly. That way you will still be eligible for the finishers and any other applicable awards when you complete that distance. After registration close, and even up through the prerace check-in, you can still drop down or go up. Simply notify us and pay the difference as described above. However, since all finishers medals and awards are ordered many weeks in advance, we cannot guarantee awards for those changing distances after registration closes.
Sometimes things don't always go as you planned on race day. Sound familiar? Well, we understand and will allow you to drop down to a shorter distance and still be an official finisher. How sweet is that? ☺ Simply sign off that you're done and we'll give you a finishers shirt and hat/visor and a finishing time for the longest official distance you completed. You will NOT receive any finishers award for that distance since you didn't originally sign up for it. You will also not be eligible for any other awards. We will list your finishing time in a separate "Unofficial" class. Note that if you change distances from the longer metric course to the shorter miles course or vice versa, the official distance you are scored at may be longer due to the timing verification locations. For instance, if you're running the 100 miler and complete only four 10 mile loops (40 miles), the official 50K time you are given will be for the next time you crossed a timing mat AFTER 31.06 miles. It could be several miles later.
You can also step up during the event. Simply notify the timing official (NOT a volunteer) what distance you are stepping up to before you complete your original distance. Same as with dropping down, the actual distance you may have to complete may be longer if you change from the metric course to the miles course or vice versa. The great news is that after payment of the registration fee difference to the Awards staff, you'll score the finishers award for that distance. However your results will not be included along with the rest of the finishers for that distance, nor will you be eligible for placement awards.
Dropping Out or DNFing: Unfortunately, things sometimes happen and you may not be able to complete any official distance. If that happens, please drop out at the start/finish, since we will not have transportation anywhere else. It is absolutely essential that you notify a race official at the timing area (not a volunteer). Let them know if you are quitting so we don’t go out looking for you. Simply sign our form that you're done. We don't want to have to call a missing persons report into the police. During the event, if you accept a car ride…or ride a bike…or scooter, etc…you are out of the race, obviously. You have to complete the entire distance under your own power and on your own two feet or hands (you are permitted to crawl, if necessary!). You must stay on the course until you are finished. Leaving and then returning later is not permitted. (You are allowed to sleep in the school or your RV if you brought one). Just be sure to tell an official at the timing area first. Then tell them when you return to the course.)
Cutoff: Thirty (30) hours for the 50K, 100K, and 100 miler. Eighteen (18) hours for the 50 miler. Six (six) hours for the 10 miler. At 2 PM Sunday, the course closes for all distances.
Awards: All finishers awards will be presented immediately upon completion. There will be a finisher's awards podium area and pictures will be taken. All members of each relay team will need to stay until all their team members have finished so a team picture can be taken. There will be USPS Priority Medium Flat Rate boxes and packaging materials available for those flying and wishing to mail their awards and avoid potential TSA agent conflicts. Simply package it up and pay $15 (cash or check) for postage and mailing supplies. We'll take it to the PO for you. Any personalized awards (course record, marksmanship, and 100K/100 Mile finishers plates for stands) will be mailed approximately 2-4 weeks after the event. Please make sure your UltraSignup address is correct since that is where we will be sending it. We are not responsible for any lost or misdirected mail.
Post Race Events: Food, drinks, and chocolate milk are available for all runners and their pacers at The Pistol Cafe - 11:30 AM until end of race Sunday at 2 PM. All finishers awards are presented and pictures taken in the Awards area (inside the school) immediately after completion (except those awards needing personalization which will be mailed later). Overall placement podium photos will also be taken. All members of the fastest relay team will need to stay until all their team members have finished so a team picture can be taken. There are no other formal post-race activities scheduled.
Showers: There are men's and women's locker room showers available about 1000' away across Lodge Street in the original high school. There will be directional signage. You will need to bring all your own shower toiletries. Thank you for leaving the shower areas clean after you're done.
Items Left Behind: Please ensure that you take all your belongings with you, as we cannot be responsible for them, or mailing them to you. Anything left will be used, donated, or disposed of.
Race Cancellation: If the event is canceled for any reason, all entry fees (including donations, merchandise, etc.) are non-refundable.
Registration refunds/deferment: There are no refunds, no transfer of entries, and no rolled/deferred entries. Please don't even ask. It is illegal to transfer your bib to another runner. Doing so will subject you and them to permanant barring from any of our events. Please don't register unless you understand and accept this policy. As much as we'd like to , it just isn't practical to do so on a race with this many participants and all the different distances and options. Many of the race expenses are already paid for far in advance. Also, shirt gender/sizes are set when your registration was placed. Additional meal options are chosen and paid for (if applicable). Trying to change any of that after the fact is challenging and very problematic. It usually only results in confusion, misunderstandings, incorrect orders, frustrated volunteers, frustrated runners, frustrated assistant race director, and a frustrated race director. There is good news though. If your circumstances change and you won't be able to make it to The Pistol, PLEASE cancel your registration via UltraSignup as soon as you know. It will help out a lot with our race day planning. Plus, if it is before February 28, 2018, 50% of your registration cost will automatically roll over as a credit towards your entry in next year's event. If you are unable to run, please consider still coming and volunteering. There is a huge need for volunteers at an event this size. Simply click through the Volunteer link on this website.
Volunteering: It takes an incredible number of volunteers to put on this major of an event. Please encourage all your family, friends, neighbors, and such to come. Everyone's help is greatly needed. Runners can volunteer and still participate. There are time slots starting Thursday afternoon and running all the way through until Sunday afternoon. Saturday night and Sunday times particularly need lots of willing, enthusiastic volunteers. Simply click on the website volunteer tab and make your selections. We have financial incentives for non-profit commmunity groups of 10 or more. Email email@example.com for more details.
Race Director Decisions: While we have tried to plan this all out in advance, there may be changes, perhaps significant ones, that occur without notice. Be prepared for that. Expect the unexpected. This is part of the fun of ultrarunning. All decisions made by the race director are final. There are no negotiations, no arbitration, or an appeals board. The plan is for everyone to work together so we all have fun. But someone has the final say, and that’s the race director (or his assigns).
Race Director: Will Jorgensen, Assistants: Mary Beth Cates, Gail Jorgensen