Times for the inaugural beta run of the Wild Duluth 50K ranged from 5 hours 53 minutes to 8 hours 57 minutes.  What’s clear looking at these times, is that this is a tough course.  The first 9.5 miles is very nice and runnable with good, relatively smooth tread.  There are lots of ups and downs over the early miles, but it’s really some nice running trail.  Once you hit the climb up Ely’s Peak however, the trail becomes much more challenging.  Lots of rocks and roots lace the trail and there are a few pretty long climbs as well.  These rocks and roots remain throughout the remainder of the course to Bayfront Park.  There are some nice stretches of relatively smooth, runnable trail, but for the most part the last 20 miles is much rockier and rootier than the first 10.

Based on what we know about this course now (including some training runs on the course by some fast runners), what should our cutoff times be?  I’d like to get input from all of you potential runners out there in cyberspace.  Here’s some information gleaned from other 100K ultras around the country to provide some background information.

The most popular 100K trail ultra in the nation is Miwok 100K in Northern California.  In fact, I like to think of Wild Duluth as the “Miwok of the Midwest.”  Maybe someday…  Anyway, course cutoff for this relatively challenging course with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain is 16:30 with an intermediate cutoff at 35.6 miles of 8:40.

Another popular trail 100K on the west coast, Where’s Waldo 100K in Oregon has an 18:00 cutoff with an intermediate cutoff of 10:00 at 32 miles and elevation gain of over 11,000 feet.

Out on the East Coast are two additional popular and challenging 100K trail ultras, both in Virginia – Hellgate 100K and Great Eastern Endurance Run (GEER) 100K.  Hellgate has an 18:00 cutoff with intermediate cutoffs at 22 miles of 6:30 and 42.5 miles of 12:30.  Hellgate has elevation gain of 13,500 feet over its course, has been measured to be 66 miles long and takes place in the winter with a 12:00 midnight start time.  GEER is a very challenging course with over 15,000 feet of elevation gain, a 19:00 cutoff and an intermediate cutoff at 31.2 miles of 9:30.

Closer to home, the Kettle Moraine 100K in Wisconsin has a cutoff of 18 hours, intermediate cutoff at 31 miles of 9:00 and probably a little less than 10,000 feet of elevation gain.

A new 100K in California, Wildest Run in the West 100K, that runs on much of the Western States course has a cutoff of 16:00 and an intermediate cutoff at 30 miles of 8:15 and 38 miles of 10:00.

On the far end of the cutoff spectrum, Bandera 100K in Texas, a challenging trail ultra, has a cutoff of 24:00 with an intermediate cutoff of 11:00.

To summarize trail 100K ultra cutoffs around the country:

Race                                        Cutoff(hours)   Intermediate Cutoff(dist.)
Wildest Run in the West 100K    16:00                 8:15 (30 miles)
Miwok 100K                               16:30                 8:40 (35.6 miles)
Where’s Waldo 100K                   18:00                 10:00 (32 miles)
Hellgate 100K                            18:00                  12:30 (42.5 miles)
Kettle Moraine 100K                   18:00                 9:00 (31 miles)
GEER 100K                                  19:00                 9:30 (31.2 miles)
Bandera 100K                             24:00                  11:00 (31 miles)

Wild Duluth 100K will include over 10,000 feet of elevation gain and descent and some very challenging rocky and rooty trail.  With this information in mind, what are your suggestions for intermediate (50K) and final (100K) course cutoffs?