The Huff 50K Trail Run …. 2017 Edition

Saturday was the annual Huff 50K Trail Run.  Huff is known for bringing something new and unique each year.  The 2012 race brought epic flooding.  2016 brought 6 inches of fresh powder to the start and then added freezing rain atop the snow (and us) for the entirety of the race.  2017 will go down in history as one of the coldest years on record.  Temps at the start were below zero with wind chills, then plummeted further thru the day for an average of –13 to –15 “feels like” during the bulk of the race.  It was a long day for those who were able to finish and there was a large number of runners who had to drop out, or were not allowed to continue after the completion of the first loop, due to weather related concerns.

Huff logo

The Huff 50K offers a 1 loop “fun run” of approximately 11 miles, a 3 person 50K relay & a 50K trail run.  I’ve ran, and managed to complete, the 50K every year since 2013.  I’ve had good years & bad years.  Ones that were tough because I wasn’t up to par physically.  Ones that were brutal due to weather like 2016 & 2017.  I love this race and will continue to run it as long as I am able.  It’s a great way to end my racing season each year.  Its close to home.  And  love that we can pick up our packets the morning of the race!  Win, win, win!

This year, due to the cold temps, I left my phone in my check bag.  My iPhone has a very short battery life & the cold kills it almost instantly.  None of the photos you see in this post are mine.  Thanks to Tadd B, Stacey H & Sara P for sharing their photos so I could add something visual to this write-up!.

Pre-race with Tadd B & Pat H.  I’m the one in bright orange. 


The race started at 8am for the 1 loop runners.  At 8:20 for the 50K runners.  The course is different for each race.  For the 50K race, there are 3 aid stations on each loop.  Located at miles 4, 8 & 14.  Then the warming tent at the start/finish which is also the half way point of the 50K can be used as an aid station.  Other than the aid stations, there are only a few road crossings.  This is not a race that you can cut short in very many places if an injury, illness or other issues result.  I heard some criticism from some who were not allowed to go out for a second loop of the 50K due to time & weather issues.  I can say from a safety standpoint, it was imperative to have runners off the trail by dark.  Then if we add in the weather concerns, the second loop of the 50K was cold. Really cold.  Plus the trails were drifting from the blowing wind & snow.  It was a bit of a challenge.   I had to have my face covered almost the entirety of that loop to avoid frostbite. Our bodies were burning extra energy to try to keep warm, in addition to the running, so fueling was a huge issue.  And the volunteers at the aid stations were FREEZING trying to support us.  More respect needs to be given to the race officials and volunteers for these races.  Nobody wants to cancel or shorten a race.  Its bad publicity, especially in this age of social media.  However, they are liable for each and every runner.  They have to do what they think is best for everyone, runners & volunteers included.

We had about 3” of snow on the ground.  Flurries during the race. Roads were iced over with a little snow on top.  It was a much better situation running wise than the deeper snow and freezing rain of 2016.  However, it was still a tough race.  Tough but beautiful.IMG_5751

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Lots of hills.  Lots of slipping and sliding.  Running for most of us was slow going.  I was amazed by the varying degrees of dress.  I was focused on keeping my face covered to avoid frost bite, yet there were people running in shorts, or less.  The conditions were dangerous.  I wouldn’t recommend running with exposed skin when the temps are below zero. 

Sara & I in the pines on loop 1.  One of my favorite areas. 


Pure joy as we cross the half way mat (after I stopped to put on my yaktrax). 

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And then the wind hit us.  Cold.  Strong.  Blowing us around.  Trying to cover the tracks of those before us.  Time to put our heads down and just run.  The yaktrax were a welcome addition to loop 2.  They helped A LOT in the areas that were packed down and in the slippery areas.  I wish I had worn them for the first loop but thought the snow was probably too deep for them to do much good.  I’ll definitely wear them for all snowy trail runs going forward.  My footing was a lot better after I put them on. 

The wind made the temperature drop further but I was warm.  My clothing was perfect:  Athleta Polartec tights, Injinji over the calf compression socks, thin Under Armour Long Sleeve Infrared tech shirt, Nike Pro Hyper Warm Fleece Lined 1/2 Zip, Saucony Vita Run Vizipro jacket, ear band, hat, balaclava, lined gloves with a an extra pair of throw away gloves that had hand warmers inside.  I used the throw away gloves with hand warmers at the start for a several miles, then again on loop 2 after a lengthy stop at an aid station.  Only difference between loop 1 & loop 2 was that I had to keep my face covered the majority of the second loop due to the added wind. 

Best Aid Station Ever at Dock Lake.  Team Tritanium ran the aid station again with the Huff Couch.  Two fires were burning.  Smores, gluten free chicken noodle soup, homemade sweet bread, plus the usual ultra fare. 

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But really the best part is always the finish.  My 5th Huff 50K is in the done column.  I hope to be back for #6 in 2018.  See the finishers medal and cool handmade soup mug below.  Lots of fun. 

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Finisher stats:  50K – 118 Finishers, 57 DNFs; 1 Loop Fun Run:  139 Finishers, 5 DNFs.  Relay – 24 Finishing teams, 5  DNFs, 3 DQs. 

As always, a great race.  If you are going to run in the winter, I’d recommend layering up and minimizing exposed skin.  There will always be people running with very little on but honestly, that’s just not safe. Be smart & enjoy the beauty of the season.  Running is a great way to get out and enjoy the winter months and keep those Winter Blues away!

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Huff 50K Race Report – 2015

Huff logo

My third Huff 50K is in the books!  As I mentioned on the TTF Facebook page yesterday, this is a race that just makes me proud to run.  Proud of myself for going back to a tough race year after year.  Proud of my run friends who brave the elements and trails, when they would rather be pounding pavement.  Proud of the other participants who are constantly encouraging and showing the newbies what trail running is all about.  Proud of the race organizers for delivering a great race over and over again.  The Huff 50K is a class act.  Pic below from top is the 2013, 2014 & 2015 belt buckles.  Maybe I should buy a belt?


This event is at Chain O Lakes State Park in Albion, IN.  It offers a 50K, 50K Relay & a one loop option (10.8 miles).  Lots of choices.  The trails are well groomed, wider, not single track like many trials.  This is a great event for beginner trail runners and a great course to run side by side with a friend/partner.  Aid stations are spaced about 4 miles apart and there are bathrooms and/or port-o-potties at 4 of the 5 aid stations.  This is huge and not the case with all trail races.  I would recommend carrying your own water to manage hydration between aid stations.  Trail shoes are recommended by not required.  I like to use gaiters over my shoes to keep leaves and debris out of my shoes/socks but these are not a necessity either.  This is a very user friendly trail event.  No fancy equipment required.

There were a few changes for 2015 both at the organizational level and on the course.  I think everything went very smoothly.  My brain struggled with the new course, always trying to figure out which way we went last year, but I just followed the pink markers and it went well.  No idea if this course was easier than years past but this was our fastest year thus far at Huff (6:50 finish).  There were a lot more markers this year and even a few spots where they put up tape so that runners didn’t get off course inadvertently.  Nice touches that I really think helped the comfort level of the newer trail runners.  I never had an issue before at this event but I’m an “eyes to the ground” trail runner so that I can watch my footing and the trail markers.  The new course and markings allowed for more social running without fear of missing a turn off.  I think Huff is a social trail race.  So many people sign up because their friends are going, even if they have never ran trails before ….. and that’s why its FUN.  New course below.


Great aid stations.  If you haven’t ran an ultra or trail marathon before, you might want to do so just for the food.  There is candy, m&ms, twizzlers, cookies, fig newtons, pb&j quarters, potato chips, pretzels, soups, boiled potatoes with salt, coke, water, gatorade, lemon bars and one spot was even grilling hamburgers.  So much food.  I didn’t bother carrying any gels and my tummy thanked me for eating real food.  Spirits were particularly high on the first loop.   Myself, Tamyra & Julie getting ready to tackle the hill in the background.  Hills, smillz.


We ran the first loop in 3 hrs 15 minutes, which was my goal.  Then I thought we could hit the second loop in 3:30 but I was off a bit, took us 3:35, which is still good in my book.  That second loop gets really LONG.  It’s almost like you cross the mat at halfway and they add a couple bricks to each leg.  The hills suddenly seem steeper and each mile drags on a bit more.  But we just kept moving thru each mile (marked signs at EVERY mile!) and toward the next aid station.  It worked.  We didn’t rush.  This isn’t really a race for us but more of an experience.  So if someone need to walk or potty, we stopped.  We probably spent too much time at a couple aid stations but oh well.  Over all, we kept moving!   And we tried to keep it fun.  When Julie’s hubby started texting her (probably wondering if we were done yet!  Ummm, no we were not done!), I insisted we stop and take a selfie to send him.  Hi, Joe!   I was getting ready to stick out my tongue but we snapped the picture first with my crazy face.  That’s about right, I was feeling kinda crazy that far into the race.  I think we were probably around mile 28 at this point.  The craziness had definitely set in.  Tamyra, Me, Julie.


I’m very thankful that Julie came back for her second Huff this year.  I know she didn’t love it last year.  She doesn’t love trail running at all but we still do a couple trail marathons each year.  Totally my fault. It always seems like a good idea at the time.  Smile  And this was Tamyra’s first ultra.  Her third marathon distance event (or longer) since November 7th in Indy when she ran her VERY FIRST marathon.  She took a leap of faith and followed us to Tulsa for the Rt 66 Marathon, and then to Huff.   2 marathons and 1 ultra in a 6 week span.  She’s definitely a tough chick and I’m proud to call her a friend!  Great job,Tamyra!!!

The swag.  Huff always provides good stuff.  This year we got a cotton tee, a Huff Santa Hat, a portable charger & a key chain with a thermometer.  Then here is a close up of the belt buckle that was received at the finish.  Most 50Ks don’t offer a belt buckle, but rather a finishers medal.  So it’s a nice touch for Huff to give the buckle and that’s probably why this is one of the largest 50Ks in the US.

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Huff is a great race.  I highly recommend it.  Grab some friends and run a loop OR two.  Next year, Huff will be on December 17, 2016.  Then the 2017 race will be returning to the first Saturday after Christmas. 

Side Note:  If you’re in the woods, State/National Park or not, DO NOT litter.  A general rule of hiking, backpacking and trail running is that if you pack it in, you pack it out.  I saw A LOT of litter & debris on the trails this year.  Very disappointing.  Someone has to clean that up or Huff could get fined, get belittled by other races or worse yet, lose their permit to run at Chain O Lakes.  Please respect your environment.  Don’t drop GU packs, kleenex, hand warmers, cups of noodles, or your SWEATSHIRT on the trail cuz you are tired of carrying it.  The aid stations are close enough together that it isn’t a stretch to hold onto your trash for a little bit longer and dispose of it property.  Please.  Respect your trails or they will be gone.  Help protect the trails for all of us, our kids, and our grandkids to come. Thank you!


2013 Huff Race Report, must have neglected to write one for 2014.  Ooops.  Smile

** Happy Trails ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Huff 50K Race Review & Experience – 2013


On Saturday, December 28, 2013, I ran my first official trail race, the Huff 50K.   The “Huff” also offers two other events, a 50K relay and a one loop (10.8 mile) race.  I’ve wanted to do this race for a couple years now because it’s very close to where I grew up and where my family currently lives, plus it lines up well with the fall trail running which I normally do after the Chicago Marathon.  However, I was nervous to take on something so big right before I leave for Disney for the Dopey Challenge.  I was thinking about it, and thinking some more, leaning toward the one loop option, not wanting to do the relay and having to wait around all day for a relay team but also considering the 50K.  I finally decided on the 50K cuz I was healthy and also hoping it would force me to be a bit more serious about my post Chicago Marathon miles and my Dopey training.   Yeah, Dopey didn’t worry me but Huff scared me big time.  So in order to be properly trained for Dopey, I decided to take the plunge on Huff.  I realized this sounds insane but I always downcyle after the CHI Marathon and that’s where my brain wants to go in November and December.   Dopey starts on January 9th so I didn’t have much time to downcyle.  The Huff 50K was essential to put me back in the mental and physical training game and I used it as one massive, slow training run.  I was very cautious and kept it very slow and just celebrated one last last hurrah of a training run before Dopey.  Insane.  I know.  I got it.

Prerace with friends, photo on left:  Austin B, Mike S (Run Nerds Rock), Adella B, Brandi M & me.   Photo on right, a few of the FNRC members who were running:  me, Susan M & Nicole F.

Group Me Sue Nicole

One of the biggest things about Huff is the unknown.  The trail conditions, the weather, the hills, the weather, the miles, the weather, the ability to fuel for the duration, the weather, proper hydration and yeah, the weather.  We totally lucked out because although the Midwest has been hit hard by day after day of sub zero temps this season, Mother Nature brought us a nice warm spell for Huff cuz God NEVER gives you more than you can handle.  We had a balmy 30 degrees at the start and the sun worked it’s magic all day to bring temps up to 45 by the finish.  Weather crisis averted.

My plan, if you want to call it a “plan” was to focus on the fact that I need to run two loops, use the mantra “just two loops!” and move thru the course without thinking too much about mileage.  You know, definitely don’t think about the fact that it was going to be a 31 mile day cuz well that just sounds CRAZY.   I don’t consider myself crazy so I certainly wouldn’t consider running 31 miles for fun.  However, I’d do just about anything for a training run.  🙂  I also had an ace up my sleeve cuz my friend and fellow Team Tough Chik member, Kasey, was also running the 50K and I was thinking we might be a good match to run together IF she wasn’t looking to race the course.  I figured if she wanted to race, then she would just have go without me cuz I couldn’t afford to put too much effort in this event.  I didn’t want to trash my legs and I needed a fast recovery for Dopey.  Slow and steady was the plan.  Walk the hills, run the downs & flats for as long as possible and then just survive.  Meet my partner in pain crime, Kasey.  First pic is on the first loop about mile 4, right before the first amazing aid station.  Second pic is as we started our second loop where were excitedly announced to the world that we ONLY had one loop to run.  Third pic is us running toward the bag drop finishing our first loop.

Me & Kasey   hill  me & Kasey -  just 1 loop me & kasey - running

I can’t really say enough about Kasey.  She had a great attitude.  Promised to be the anchor on my ass me in the beginning when I really just wanted to run fast but knew I couldn’t.  Promised to help me thru at the end when I would surely be in tears struggling.  She sang, danced, laughed, bitched complained, ran, walked, crawled, and ate sour patch kids ….. all in perfect step with me.  When things got rough for one of us, the other person sucked it up, ignored any tears/complaints/profanity and took the lead to keep us moving toward our one and only goal, the finish line.

The first 15.5 mile loop was icy and snowy but the sun was shining.  It was rough on the feet because the frozen trail had zero give and our feet, ankles and the stabilizing muscles/tendons were working overtime.  But it was beautiful.

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The trail was also covered in fallen leaves and hid the roots, rocks and wooden beams that held the trail together on the ups and downs.  We were very careful but still stumbled, tripped and slid on multiple occasions.  Very typical of trail running, which is why hard soled trail shoes are necessary to protect your feet and toes!

trail  downhill

And there were hills.  Lots of hills.  Some little, some big.  Some up, some down.

hill3 bridge & hill hill

There were aid stations about every 4 miles but I highly recommend carrying your own water.  I didn’t, even though I had a water belt with me in my drop bag, and I really struggled with dehydration in that second loop.  The aid stations that were on course were very well stocked with anything and everything a person could want:  water, coke, pickle juice, Gatorade, bananas, cookies (store variety and homemade), pb&j sandwiches, pretzels, chips, fishy crackers, licorice, m&ms – plain & peanut, homemade truffles, hamburgers, chicken noodle soup and other things that I can’t even remember.

aid station

We both utilized the bag drop at the half way point and after a 20 minute layover to fix our feet, change shoes, readjust/shed clothing, potty, eat, text and Facebook (you know the important things) we headed out for the second 15.5 mile loop.  It was pure mud.  The 1000 people between the three races, plus the sun and warming temps had done their job to thaw our frozen trail.  We slid around this loop and sometimes even had to use bushes on the side of the trail to help pull us up the hills.  I was in a total panic, sliding down the hills afraid that I would fall and manage to get hurt and ruin myself for Dopey.  Kasey even offered to throw herself in front of me if I started falling/sliding down the hill to coerce me into going faster break my fall. But I was focused on being overly cautious to avoid a fall/slip.  The theme of the second loop was mud and survival.  I had a very hard time getting thru miles 24-29.  I was all done.  I was tired of the mud.  Angry that we were sloshing and splashing each other.  Angry that 31 miles seemed like a good idea.  But we just kept moving forward, sometimes at a snails pace but relentlessly moving forward.  Mud on the left, me walking down the trail on the right.

mud  Me walking

You might wonder how I got thru that second loop.  I do too.  But really it was from tree to tree.  We ran to the big tree on the left.  Then walked to the multi-trunk birch on the right.  Then we ran to the bridge.  Then we walked to the tree with the funky arm out over the trail.  Then we ran up the hill so we could walk when it was flat and easier.   We did a lot of “this is the last damn time we ever have to run up this hill”.  We probably said that 20 different times on 20 different hills.  We just did it.  One foot after the other.  One tree at a time.  One hill at a time.  One mile at a time. One loop at a time.  No goals other than to finish.  No pressure.  No problem.

And finish we did, in just under 7 hours.  And we were happy.  Really happy.  Mike even waited for us even though he had to wait 2.5 hours after he himself had finished (he ran it in 4:33 and placed 4th in his age group.  Wow.  Great job, Mike & congrats!).

Kasey Me Mike  me & Kasey - medals me & mike

As for the race itself, super organized.  Aid stations with potties about every 4 miles.  One unmanned/no potty aid station on course.  One “pit potty”.  One potty stop without an aid station.  Amazing volunteers.  Amazing trail.  Amazing views.  Variety of terrain from roads to grass to trail to hills to bridges and from lake to lake to lake.  One bag drop at the half way point.  Changing tent.  Chip timing.  Homemade goodies like soups, cookies and candy.  This race really has it all, including multiple race options for whatever distance you are willing to tackle.  I’d absolutely recommend this race to anyone would is looking for an awesome trail run.  It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.

Swag = unisex tech tee, cooler bag and a key chain that is a mini replica of our finisher medals.  I love  the key chain!


Great race!  Maybe I’ll see YOU in 2014!

** I’m an Ultra Marathoner Now!! ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **