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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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Race Report: Hinson Lake 24 Hour

Hinson Lake took place just one week after the NC24, the National 24 Hour Championship.   Boy do I wish there was just a little more time between these too events.  It seems that most people prepared to run substantial mileage would have chosen to do so at Nationals.   Therefore, seeing any impressive performances at Hinson would really be a wonderful surprise.

Tom Gabell is the RD of Hinson. The course is a 1.52 loop around a lake with one well-stocked aid station at the start finish area.  This year there were over 200 participants, making this race (what I was told by my friend Ray,who is likely the most reliable source on all thinks ultrarunning) the largest 24 hour event in the country.

It is obvious that Tom and his wife put on this race because they love the sport.  For a $24 fee he provides everything that a race costing 3-4 times that amount would provide, except chip timing.  As for timing, Tom recruited his family and they tracked us by tallying up our laps on a board.  The same person is your lap counter all day and with each crossing of the start/finish, you are greeted with a “I got you Shannon (or No. 7), that was lap #___ for you”.  I like this system 100 times better than chip timing.  Not only do you begin every lap knowing just what you have done, you also get your own personal cheerleader.  🙂  The volunteers were so fantastic that at one point, I changed my clothes, forget to pin on my bib, and STILL my countered called me out by name to tell me lap number.  Chip timing has nothing on the old school way.

As for my race, I am still recovering from the 75 mile run I completed last week.  I had low expectations, but that will not stop me from showing up.  I was hoping the soft clay surface would be forgiving on my knee.  I stopped last week when I felt pain building in my ACL.  There was just not enough time for my ACL to fully recover and I felt it early in the run.

This course is quietly sneaky in that it is much more challenging than it sounds.  Although generally flat on a non-technical trail with some short boardwalk bridges, the course seems like it would be rather fast.  However, there was one incline of significant length that was comprised of deep sand and some other shorter sand traps along the way.  In the addition to the sand, the temperatures, reaching as high as 96-97 as per some reports, added to the challenge of the day.

The unstable footing of the deeper sand immediately aggravated my ACL.  By laps 2, I began to experiment with some taping.  I did find that the tape helped enough to get me through half a loop, but increased pain would occur on the way in.  I would RICE for a few minutes, start to feel better, readjust the tape and then try another loop.  Eventually, it became painful to bend my knee at all and I figured that was enough messing around.  I believe I logged about 25 miles.  At that point I reverted to my original plan and purpose for going to Hinson, to crew for Jim.  It was great to see him reach the 100k mark in what turned out to be a tougher than expected race.

In consideration of the sandy trail and the 90 degree temperatures, Mike Morton’s performance is mind-boggling. Steady and strong, he strided along appearing quite focused all day.  Early on many people were not sure who he was and just what he thought he was doing putting about 15 laps on the second place guy in the first 12 hours of the race.  I tend to not get too excited about leaders since the 24 hour is about survival (and as I personally know, a great 12 hour run does not often make for a great 24 race).

However, as Mike approached his 66th lap, it was truly exciting to see him complete over 100 miles at just under13:15.  I feel lucky to have been present to witness such an amazing preformance!  The only question left was whether he could keep on going for the 40 more miles more he would need to make one of the three remaining spots on Team USA!

Mike was clearly in this for the duration and eventually went on to log about 154 miles!   This would have been good enough for 2nd place and an auto-entry into Worlds had he been present at NC24.   I would even guess that had he raced last week, in much cooler temperatures and on a flatter and faster surface, he would have logged well over 154 and the race between Serge (last weeks winner at 156) and Mike would have been incredibly fantastic to watch (since Serge was slow and steady and Mike faded hard in his last 4 hours).

As for me, Hinson is keeper and I look forward  to returning next year.

Thanks for reading,


Posted in Race Reports, Ultra MarathonComments (3)

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