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Naresh Kumar Ultra Mountain Man

Naresh Kumar’s Top 20 Most Favorite Marathons & Ultras

“I am addicted to long distance running. Never thought, even in my dreams, that I would run as many ultras as I have in the past two years. Ultra marathon is an awesome sport and I consider myself very lucky and blessed for being able to run so many races and meet so many wonderful people along the way. Some of the races, listed below are life changing experiences, taught me the real meaning of perseverance, to face my demons alone and ultimately making me realize that I can do anything.” – Naresh Kumar

My Favorite Races (In no specific order)

The Last Annual Vol State Road Race 500K: Vol State was a life changing experience. I hated talking about the race after finishing but a few weeks later I could never shut up once I start talking about it. The toughest thing that I have ever done in my whole life. Run, walk, eat, sleep …that’s all I did for 7 days to get to the finish line.

Foot Hills Trail Ultra: A 77 mile trail ultra from Oconee State Park to Table Rock State Park. I joined the FHT mailing list and after listening to countless number of adventure stories from runners who attempted this grueling race, I thought I will give it a try. This race, especially the Laurel Valley section, is the most beautiful and wild trails that I have ever run. Besides I earned the BMF title, and the wallet, by finishing it in 27+ hours.

Art Loeb Trail: The TOUGHEST 50K I have ever run to this date. The RD calls it as adventure run as opposed to calling it a race and he is right. Calling this 50K an adventure run is a joke. It’s practically a 2-3 day hike which was tagged as an adventure run with a 12 hr cut-off. No marked trails after mile 12. Compass and map is a must to navigate the course. Wild and beautiful trail that runs across the mountain ridges offering spectacular views. National Geographic has listed ALT as one of the thirty best North American hikes. My finish time for this 50K. 11:13:32

Big Dog Backyard Ultra: A very unique race with a very unique format. A death march on Big Dog Backyard Trail and the last man standing wins. Run 4.2 miles, start and finish by the hour. Pushed my limits and managed to answer the bell for 11 loops before finally giving in.

Bartram 100: My first 100 mile ultra that I ran and finished within my first year of running. 6.2 mile loop. Run it 16 times for a 100 mile finish. The year I first ran, the weather was miserable. It felt like 18 deg F with heavy winds, pouring rain and sleet. The second year, I shaved off almost 4 hours from my previous years’ time. One of the best 100’s that I have run.

Bloody 11W 100 mi: The highway was once known as “Bloody 11W” because of the frequency of fatal accidents along the route. Why not run 100 miles on the most haunted road in the US. That’s how it all started. Approximately 110 miles from where 11E and 11W splits in Knoxville, TN all the way to the Virginia state line in Bristol. A fatass style event. Beautiful yet brutal course. The longest 34:04:00 of my life. Mark your calendar for the Labor Day weekend. There will be blood. :)

Land between the Lakes 50 mi: My most memorable races are the ones where things went wrong at the very beginning and I had to put on the best fight against all odds to get to the finish line. My first 50 mile within 2 months of my running experience. My first race finish where I cried like a baby at the finish line, literally. This race also taught me that “You’re better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can”.

Louisville Lovin The Hills 50K: This was the toughest 50K next to ALT 50K. Hills never end at LLTH 50K and they get steeper and longer by the hour. Also the most muddy race that I have ever run. Came so close to DNF several times. My buddy Trent and I pushed each other in all perseverance to the finish line. A very tough and a challenging course.

Mt Mist 50K: This one’s another one of my favorite 50K. Trail runners never die, they just thin out and it’s so true if you run the Mt Mist. Some of the sections are so steep that you would wish you had some rock climbing experience. The Mt Mist 50K course will literally break you.

Stump Jump 50K: My favorite race among the Rock Creek Series. Wild trails and beautiful course with amazing support. One of the 50K events that I would definitely run every year.

Hinson Lake 24Hr: Tom Gabell puts on the best 24 hr race in the country. The course is the 1.52 mile inner loop that circles the lake. The surface is a soft clay maintained trail through the woods. You will run over 16 small wooden foot bridges including an 300 foot bridge that crosses over the lake. The Volunteers and the RD makes he race the most memorable 24hr endurance run.

Cumberland Trail 50K: Another tough 50K. The race takes you on a challenging, out-and-back route on the rugged New River section of the Cumberland Trail.  This section crosses the high point of the trail, Cross Mountain, at over 3000’.  The climb up Cross Mountain is steep and slow. Another wild wild trail. RD Susan puts on a great race and the best race swag.

Oak Mountain 50K: Heart breaking hills, beautiful waterfalls, different terrain throughout with challenging ups-n-downs, rocky trail sections, crushed-gravel, and trippy rocks, Oak Mountain 50K has got everything a trail runner can ask for.  The finisher beer glass is well worth it and the ham burgers at the end of the race too.

Mt Cheaha 50K: The only time I thought I was going to die was during the last 3 miles of Mt Cheaha course. A race to the top of Alabama, literally.  A point-to-point trail run that finishes in the Cheaha State Park at the summit of Cheaha Mountain. At 2,407 feet this is the highest point in Alabama. Along the run you will experience scenic overlooks, creek crossings, lakes, waterfalls, and hardwood and pine forests.

Destin Beach Ultra: The most beautiful race that you will ever run. A 50K race along the Destin shore. A barefoot runner’s paradise. The race supports for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. My first 50K where I run the entire race barefoot.

Strolling Jim 40 Miler: This 40 Mile Ultra marathon is run entirely on paved roads in Wartrace, TN. The race is challenging, very hilly yet the course is beautiful offering spectacular view of the southern country side.

Run Under The Stars 10Hr: Another great race organized by Steve Durbin. This is a night time run. Run, jog, walk, rest, stop and start as much as you’d like. Really cool swags including a finisher’s Award indicating your total distance. Whether you are trying to race or want to have a party with your running mates, RUTS 10Hr is the perfect race.

Flying Monkey Marathon: As mentioned in the website, The Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon is meant to be an antidote. It is a marathon that is about running. Running hard. Running over big and memorable and painful rolling hills through dense woods. The Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon is about the joy and pain of running a unique, and uniquely challenging and a beastly–26.2 mile course in the beautiful and historic Percy Warner Park, nestled among the Middle Tennessee Harpeth Hills. Trent is the funniest and the best RD. The race is so popular that it got filled in under 3 minutes. A race where I got the nick name THE INDIAN MONKEY and I am so proud of it. The one marathon I will run every single year without fail.

Sweet H2O 50K: The moment I saw pictures of runners crossing a raging river holding on to a rope, I signed up to run this awesome 50K. A 50K Ultra in Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lithia Springs, GA.  Trails with creek crossings in and around the park, following the lovely rapids of Sweetwater Creek, and venturing past Civil War-era textile mill ruins. They had to reroute the course in 2011 due to heavy floods and I didn’t get to cross the raging river but I will definitely be back next year. You will get Very Wet.

Naresh’s Adventure Blog

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Big Dog Backyard Ultra Race Report (Wartrace, TN)

Big Dog Backyard Ultra Wartrace TN

As Tom Dolan said, “What was I thinking?”

I had wanted to run the Big Dog, a 4.2 mile trail loop that is run once an hour, every hour, until the last man is left standing, when I first heard of it but, for some reason, did not sign up. Sometime early September, Forrest started talking about it and I decided to get in, then found that the 42 person limit was full. Along with missing out on getting in Umstead 100, I had already struck out twice.

Friday afternoon, I got an email, letting me know that a few runners had come to their senses and decided either not to run or could not make it and that there was a couple openings, and if I wanted to I could get in. I immediately decided that yes, I wanted to run, then figured that I really needed to ask Terri since she had our Saturday evening planned. I called Terri, all excited, and as dedicated wives usually do, was cleared to go “play in the woods”.

Sometimes short notice on something like this is really all you need. Dolan had been on me for 2 weeks to go to Chicago with him and run the 50 miler and I had thought about it, but really could not miss Friday and Saturday work. He had come by earlier and I gave him my half bottle of Hammer Electrolyte tabs. Never thought I would need them this weekend. Boy, could I have used them! When I got home from work around 6, I started getting my stuff together. I’m pretty anal about a lot of things when it comes to racing, everything has to be right or I stress about it. I got a loose pair of shorts, My red Strolling Jim Tee shirt, The Swamp2K singlet for when it got warm (70 degrees) light jacket, gloves, 2 pair of trail shoes in case I needed them and a pretty good selection of food (Fig Newtons, pretzels, Peanuts, bananas, 2 gallons of water and a 2 liter bottle of Mt Dew (great for long distance running), put it all on ice and went to bed around 9 for a 3AM wakeup.

The clock went off, and I quickly got my stuff in the truck and headed out. It’s about 65 miles to Laz’s house and I made it with about an hour and a half before the 7AM start time. I always like to get to a race with plenty of time to unwind. When I pulled up, there were about 20 tents set up in the yard with sleeping runners inside. Most of the 42 runners were from out of state, only 6 were from Tennessee. You really have to know Laz to realize the influence he has on crazy ultra runners. One of my intentions in running this race was to get to know him better, since my 2013 plans include running the Barkley Marathons at Frozen Head State Park and there are only 35 entrants allowed in Barkley, which is one of the hardest races in America to get into. I setup my folding table about 15 feet from the official race tent and right beside the trail that we would be running on. I spent a half hour getting my stuff just exactly where I wanted it so I could grab what I needed without having to dig. Body glide, bandaids, headlamps, clothing changes, etc would not be a problem finding.. Once I got setup, I spent the next 45 minutes mingling with the awakening runners. My buddy Naresh, who ran the Vol state 500k in July in a pair of Vibrams was one of the first to greet me (He wore the Vibrams here too), then Diane Taylor (no relation) who runs every ultra that she can. I met a bunch of folks that I had read about, some heavy hitters in the ultra community.

At 6:57, the whistle blew 3 times, then 6:58 two times, then one and at precisely 7AM, Laz rang the cowbell and we were off. The loop consisted of a short out and back on the highway so the runners could string out a bit before hitting the single track trail. From the start to the highway was a small rise, which turned out to really be a bear in later hours. Down a hill and a turnaround at the gas tank, which literally was a car gas tank laying 20 feet off the road. It was a bit wet as we circled the gas tank, which turned into slop in later runs. Back up the hill on the highway and the turn into Laz’s driveway, past the tents, up the hill, and the hard left onto the singletrack. At this point, I was in 3rd or 4th place and really did not know what to expect since I had not been on the trail. Most of the runners had walked the trail with Laz the day before and had some sort of familiarity with it. I quickly figured that there would not be a whole lot of passing once you got going. Immediately, Laz’s evilness showed up when, as we entered the trail on what should have been a short straight part, he had wiggled the trail between cedar trees, in and out and in and out for about 30 feet, just enough to break any momentum that you might have. Then across some big rocks that you literally had to jump off of as you descended the hill, curves, up another hill and on and on. At the 7/10 mile mark, we passed Laz’s backyard then an hard turn and down another hill. Where the ground appeared smooth, there were roots and little stobs where trees had not been cut even with the ground. Another left hard turn and at the mile mark was a small cedar tree that was leaning into the path and you had to lean over to keep it from slapping you in the face. At this point, I was in second place behind Sal Coll, who was about 50 feet in front of me.

More rocks to jump off of and then the first creek bed (on the return loop, this would be the One mile to go mark). The creek was 60-70 feet of big 10-15 lb loose flat rocks that would move if you didn’t step just right. Up the bank, another wiggle place in and out of small cedar trees and into a clearing for 100 feet. Back into the woods and a jump between 2 trees that were growing in a V shape. You almost had to turn sideways to get through them. Somewhat past this, you came into what would later be called the Perpetual loop. Up a pretty good hill with a bunch of stones (which I walked on most laps) then a right, up another hill with a cave on the left at the top of the hill. More curves, a 1/4 of downhill, which felt pretty good, then another creek bed to cross and up another hill. A great big shagbark hickory had fallen and it had to be climbed over. The rough shagbark would tear at your bottom as you scooted across it. This thing ended up being part of ending my race. As I threw my legs over, it caused a pretty good charleyhorse to work up in the back of my leg. At the 2 mile mark was a big rock that had enough room to scoot between it and the fence. The next 1/2 mile or so was up and down with at least 2 places where you ran between big rocks with lots of hard turns, then a long straight place, along a fence then a turn into another meadow that was slightly downhill with sagegrass and lots of loose rocks. A giant oak tree with a deer stand was on the left and then we made a hard right back into the woods, through some marshy ground, which got sloppy after a few loops and back up another hill, in and out of trees. Another long straight place, along a fence and then….the perpetual loop began. I did not notice that at the end of the fence, I was suppose to turn 360 and follow the other side of the fence, so I went on, back up the rocky hill and as I passed the cave on the left, Since I am quite observant of my surroundings, I quickly figured out that I had been here before. I was quite a bit in front of the 3rd place guy, so I stopped and listened for runners. I could hear nothing, so I turned around and ran back to the fence where I ran into Chase Cantrell. At that point we made the correct turn. 11 of the later runners ran completely around that mile loop the 2nd time and I think one ran it 3 times. The crazy thing is that most of these had walked the course the day before! In the daylight!

At that point, we were back on the original mile back, wiggle through the cedars, the creek bed with the big flat stones, jump through the V tree and follow the fence. You really had to watch your footing in this place due to the stobs and roots. A Hard turn to the right and up the hill to the backyard of Laz’s house. At that point, it was about 1/3 mile back to the finish. The final part had the big rocks that we had to jump off of, except this time, you were going the other direction. Once on top of the rocks, through a clearing with a telephone line overhead, wiggle through the cedars and a hard right onto the road back to the finish.

I finished my first lap in 44:00 or so, and felt pretty good. I took a small rest in my chair, drank some water, ate a bit and waited on the rest to come in. There was some worry in the camp that some of the pre-race favorites were not going to make in within the 60:00 cutoff time (they were on the perpetual loop) and as the time wound down, it was obvious that they would not make it. At that point, Laz decided that he would bend the rule and allow them to start the next loop as long as they could finish both laps in 2 hours. A couple did not make it and a couple hit it with only seconds to spare. At 7:57, the whistle blew three times, then 2, then 1 and at 8AM, the cowbell rang and we were off again. This time, I had a good idea what to expect and race my run under control. Needless to say, I never missed the loop part again. Someone had thrown down a red hat to mark the spot, which helped a lot. I finished 2nd again, in 42 something, about half a minute behind Sal Coll. Laz mentioned that we were running faster. At the end of lap 2 there were 2-3 runners already gone.

Lap 3 started at 9AM and again, I handled it with no problems and finished in about 45-46 minutes. I kept noticing that some of the guys were finishing in the mid 50s and decided that maybe that is what I should have been doing. Less time to cramp up, of course, less time to rest, but in some cases, rest is not good. I finished lap 3 in about 48:00, then lap 4 under 50:00. It was getting warm and at that point, I changed my tee shirt for a singlet and started carrying a water bottle. Lap 5 was in the low 50s, lap 6 around 52. Almost every lap, we were losing runners and by lap 7 there were about 18 runners left in the field. It was getting harder. I had run a hard 9 mile Longview hill run on Thursday, which I would have never done 2 days before a race and I was starting to feel the effect of that. Lap 7, I came in under 53 and then lap 8. Every time I climbed over the big shagbark hickory, my charleyhorse was working me, then I started having an issue with the left hip. When I finished lap 8, I had just about all that I wanted. I finished in the 54 min range and could have certainly gone on, but decided to call it a day.

I was really getting hungry, having run for 8 hours so I wolfed down a bunch of food and sat in my chair while lap 9 started and finished. I watched 9-10-11 and at the beginning of lap 12, darkness was coming upon us. The winner of lap 12 would receive $50 and we all watched Dave from Ontario whip the field to claim the $50 in the dark. By the time lap 13 had started, the field had dwindled to about 8-10 and runners were doing face plants. Laz had built a big bonfire and as it was getting cold, the survivors had pulled their chairs around the fire to warm up and cook some brats. My first attempt at the brat resulted in a half cooked brat, which after a bite of a slimy bratwurst resulted in several more minutes of cook time. Sal Coll’s wife had made some awesome nut bread which he gave a loaf to each person there and we ate brats, bread and told war stories while the remaining runners ran in the dark. Lap 13 finished at 8PM and at 9, the cowbell rang again. Runners were coming in without smiles on their faces and in some cases, barely made it in time to start again. Lap 13 had 2 runners to finish in 59:59. At that point, once lap 14 began, I went to get the truck to load my junk all up. I was tired, had a lot to do on Sunday and decided to trek it on home to Gallatin.

I ended up running 8 laps, finishing in 17th place, a pretty decent showing considering that almost all that were there were Ultra legends. Counting 2 runs to the truck and back and a small 3 mile run after I quit, I ended up with about 41 miles for the day. Not too bad, since I had no idea that I would be running the day before.

The race ended up going 18 laps and Tim Englund from Seattle WA ran one more lap than Dave from Ontario. I think the race finished at 1AM. I read about it all the next morning on the chat page.

What did I learn from this race? First, that if you are in really good shape, you can do just about anything you want to, That Laz has a demented mind. I met a lot of cool people from all over the USA and Canada that I will run with again.

What would I do different? I would run all my laps in the 53-55 min range with less time to rest. Those first 4 laps were too fast. I would not have quit at 8. My goal was 10-12 and I was a wienie for stopping. Winners don’t quit. If I had known that I was running earlier, I would have camped there.

Will I run this race again? Absolutely!!! Would not miss it for anything. Next year, I will drag some of my HRC buds to Wartrace with me to experience Big Dog Ultra.

Posted in Race Reports, Running, Ultra MarathonComments (1)

Big Dog Starters

Laz’s Big Dog Backyard Ultra Results (2011)

Laz’s Big Dog Backyard Ultra took place on October 22, 2011 in Lazarus Lake’s backyard in Wartrace, Tennessee…naturally.

This unique race consisted of a 4.16 mile loop where the runners had to complete the loop in less than a hour.  If a runner couldn’t then he or she was disqualified and their day was over.  The race restarts every hour, on the hour, and it repeats until just one runner is left standing.

Tim Englund won the inaugural event, lasting 18 loops (74.88 miles), beating Dave Carver who completed 17 loops (70.72 miles).

2011 Laz’s Big Dog Backyard Ultra Results

1. Tim Englund – 18 loops (74.88 miles)
2. Dave Carver – 17 loops (70.72 miles)
3. Joe Fejes – 16 loops (66.56 miles)
3. Lisa Bliss – 16 loops (66.56 miles)
5. Bill Goodwine – 15 loops (62.4 miles)
6. Tim Dines – 14 loops (58.24 miles)
7. Ray Krolewicz – 12 loops (49.92 miles)
7. Case Cantrell – 12 loops (49.92 miles)
7. Eddie Demossi – 12 loops (49.92 miles)
7. Bill Lovett – 12 loops (49.92 miles)
11. Sam Landry – 11 loops (45.76 miles)
11. Naresh Kumar – 11 loops (45.76 miles)
13. Steve Durbin – 10 loops (41.6 miles)
13. Josh Wiesner – 10 loops (41.6 miles)
15. Sal Coll – 9 loops (37.44 miles)
15. Will Taggert – 9 loops (37.44 miles)
17. William Allen – 8 loops (33.28 miles)
17. Charlie Taylor – 8 loops (33.28 miles)
19. Mike Melton – 6 loops (24.96 miles)
19. Kyle McQuire – 6 loops (24.96 miles)
19. Mike Allen – 6 loops (24.96 miles)
22. Ben Yancey – 6 loops (24.96 miles)
23. John Wallace – 5 loops (20.8 miles)
23. John Price – 5 loops (20.8 miles)
25. Mike Dobies – 5 loops (20.8 miles)
26. Shannon Burke – 3 loops (12.48 miles)
27. Nikki Seeger – 2 loops (8.32 miles)
27. Craig Blair – 2 loops (8.32 miles)
29. Catherine Harding – 2 loops (8.32 miles)
29. Janet Duncan – 2 loops (8.32 miles)
31. Julie Aistars – 1 loop (4.16 miles)
31. Diane Taylor – 1 loop (4.16 miles)
33. Abi Meadows – 0 loops

Congrats to Tim on his win and all who took part!

(If your name is misspelled in the results above then please just leave a comment with the correct spelling, and it will be corrected. Laz’s writing can be a bit tough to decipher.)

Posted in Results, Running, Ultra MarathonComments (0)



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