2009 Sweaty Butt 50K
The Sweaty Butt was my first 'Fat Ass' race. A fat ass, rather strangely does not involve an obese donkey, but rather is a race that has "no fee, no awards, no wimps". One of the things I love about ultrarunning is its grassroots, low key nature. I've run the London and Boston marathons, but the large crowds, high pressure, and commercial focus, are not for me. If ultrarunning is low key and grassroots, fat ass take this philosophy to an extreme. Fat ass is closer to a group of friends getting together for a friendly run than a competitive event. The Sweaty Butt exemplifies this grass roots event, but don't mistake low key for poorly organized - the arrangements were perfect for the nature of the course. The race had a nice internet sign up, emailed updates, including maps - perfect. The Sweaty Butt consists of a 10 mile figure of 8 with an out and back section at the start and the far end. At the far end, there is a second aid station. The out and back sections are nice as they allow you to see other runners. You can run three laps for ~30 miles, or just do one or two laps; a very easy going approach. The course covers a wonderful set of trails. It is almost pure single track, with varying levels of technicality. There are some sections that are smooth and flat, some steep and rocky, some narrow and thick with roots, and many other combinations. But in all cases the trail is quite runnable. It is technical enough to be interesting and challenging, to limit your pace and to require close attention, but it is never punishing or unpleasant. Aid is self provided, which is different, but works well. You can bring the things that you like, but make sure you bring an excess - you never know what will appeal at the time. A note of caution is required with the Sweaty Butt - it is well named, as running ultras in North Carolina in July involves some hot conditions. It is a race were experienced runners can be caught out by how fast the temperatures rise, and how far it is between those Aid Stations. If you start to suffer from the heat, the technical nature of the trail can slow you up even further, delaying your return to an aid station. It's not Badwater, but the race requires respect. Overall, this was one of the most enjoyable races and is highly recommended.