How was Fort Clinch 100 born?
When I moved to the Amelia Island area 6 years ago, Fort Clinch was one of the first places I went to check out. I immediately loved the place. For some reason, ever since I found the world of ultras reading Born to Run, I thought it would be really cool to put on a race myself. I knew Fort Clinch would be a perfect venue if I could squeeze at least a 10-mile loop out of it. So, I measured one and it came out to almost exactly 10 miles. I got on the Yahoo ultra list and put the word out that I would put this race on if I could get at least two people to show up. A bunch of people responded that they loved the idea. I put the race together in less than 4 months and set it at the end of June (this was 2011).
It was EXTREMELY hot and humid that weekend, with a heat index of 112 degrees, crazy thunderstorms, and giant mutant spiders. Only 4 people finished 100 miles that year. Honestly, my race was pretty much my introduction to the ultrarunning scene in Florida. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Other than a DNF at Ancient Oaks 100 at the end of 2010, nobody really knew who I was. I became a part of a very tight-knit, close community of very cool people.
Describe your course?
It’s a mix of trail, pavement, a half-mile long concrete fishing pier, and semi hard-packed sand beach. The trail through the park runs through Maritime forest that grew on top of ancient sand dunes, so there are a lot of short rolling hills, some sections with a lot of roots. Total elevation gain over 100 miles is roughly 7000-8000 feet.
What is the toughest part of your course? It depends: The course is designed to challenge runners of all types. Some love the trail but absolutely hate the flat pavement. Others love the pavement but hate the trail. A few even love the pier, but they are probably a bit nutty, because really, everybody hates the pier. Lol.
What was your most memorable moment as the RD of the race?
Oh man, that’s a hard question. There have been a lot of great moments. But I still feel that the first race is still the most memorable. Probably the coolest moment that year was watching my friend Juli Aistars finish. She was the last runner left on the course, and the one and only female to complete the 100 that year. Video of her finish here:
If you could give one tip to a future participant what would it be?
STOP GOING OUT SO DAMNED FAST SO EARLY IN THE RACE! Lol. Every year I warn people, and every year they don’t listen, unless they’ve run the race before and now they’ve wised up. The course is hard. Deceptively hard. It seems very runnable, but it will beat the crap out of you before you realize it’s happening. It’s easily the toughest 100 miler in Florida (except maybe Croom now that they have a 100 mile?). It once humbled a 10 time Hardrock finisher (THE HARDROCK, yes), and another who was one of the top Americans at Spartathlon. So, my advice is: take your first lap really easy. See, what you are up against, formulate a plan, get in a good rhythm on the trail so you don’t jack up your heart rate. Don’t be afraid to walk. You have 30 hours to finish. That’s plenty of time.