Tag Archive | "wartrace"

David Wingard and Joshua Holmes after the 2014 Strolling Jim 40 Miler

Strolling Jim 40 Miler Race Report (2014)

The Strolling Jim 40 Miler was the very first ultra I ran back in 2010. At the time I didn’t know another human on the planet that had run beyond the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles. I also didn’t know, in selecting The Jim, that I had selected one of the oldest and most historical ultras in the United States to attempt as my very first one.

This year was my 5th consecutive year running the SJ40. It’s held annually in the small town of Wartrace, Tennessee and consists of 41.2 miles on some of the most beautiful, scenic and rolling, green hills in the United States.

The race director’s for this year’s race were Steve Durbin (also RD for RUTS, Land Between the Lakes, Tunnel Hill 100) and Lazarus Lake (creator of the Strolling Jim 40, Barkley Marathon, and The Last Annual Vol State 500K).

The weather for this race is usually warm to very hot on the thermometer. This year, however, it was about 50 degrees at the start and only got up towards 80 degrees at the hottest part of the day. Most of the runners had already finished with temps in the mid 70’s.

I met many good friends before the start of the race including over 20 members of Run It Fast, posed for a few photos, used the facilities, and checked my two drop bags before the race quietly started at 7am.

I went in wanting to run well but also wanting to run smart knowing I had to run a 81 mile team race two days later at the Badwater: Salton Sea 81 Miler and do a double crossing at the Grand Canyon (R2R2R) two days after that. My plan was to go out at a strong pace and keep to it as long as all systems were in check.

Five miles into the race and then ten miles into the race I found myself in a large pack of very good runners consisting of Joe Fejes, DeWayne Satterfield, Dink Taylor, David Jones, Tom Possert, Jobie Williams and several others that was just a short distance behind the overall race leaders. 13-15 miles in to the race I was still in this pack and normally it would have been a sign that I had gone out too fast, but for the most part I had been running within myself and enjoyed the company and opportunity to catch up with several of the guys along the way.

Strolling Jim consists of rolling hills after rolling hill with four major climbs coming at mile 9, 19, 23, and 29.

Around mile 23 I was passed by the first female at the time, Natalie Pickett, just a few moments later I look behind me and realize I’m in the middle of a ‘chick’d sandwich’ as Aleisha Chaffin was on my tail. I was only in this spot briefly as the lower bun quickly passed and both pieces of bread left me in a carb free zone in their wake.

I struggled from miles 17 to 32. My stomach was a bit off, and I just felt a bit funny in general. I couldn’t really put my finger on what it was exactly. My ankles started to hurt in the new Hoka One One Conquests I had started the race wearing. My goal became to make it to mile 28 and switch into the Hoka Bondi Speeds.  This was unrelated to my stomach but did cure my ankles. A couple of miles after this I was able to use the restroom and things started to look and feel better while I was running in ‘The Walls.’

Most runners dread ‘The Walls’ at SJ40 that start at mile 29 and go on for several miles. I like the shade coverage the trees provide and the solace that those miles give as the field is usually extremely spread out at that point. I came alive around mile 33 and started to catch a handful of runners that had passed me 15-20 miles ago. My mile splits kept getting faster as I caught Possert and Michael Lepley around mile 38.

As fast as I was moving, it wasn’t fast enough to hold off Brooke McClanahan who passed me around mile 39 as the third female. She was moving extremely well and ended up finishing 4 minutes ahead of me.

When things were bad I had given up on a PR here or even breaking 6:30. My goal was to do what I could to hold onto a sub-7 hour finish that would get me my second consecutive red shirt. But as I felt better and better over those last miles my pace increased and I started to realize a 6:20 was possible, and if I pushed even harder and shaved more time over the last 3 miles I could potentially have a new PR.

I dug deep and finished in 6:12:35 with a new PR. I was pleased yet still curious what I could have done without that long rough stretch. Maybe if everything lines up perfectly next year a sub-6 might be possible.

Here is a look at my finishes over the past 5 years:

  • 2014: 6:12:35
  • 2013: 6:15:50
  • 2012: 7:34:43
  • 2011: 7:04:32
  • 2010: 7:38:00

One of the best parts of SJ40 is the post race feast. It always consists of bar-b-qued chicken, baked beans, and potato salad. It’s a place where war stories are told from years past and that took place over the previous 41.2 miles.

The Strolling Jim 40 Miler remains one of my favorite races. I hope to continue to go back year after year as long as it’s possible.

– joshua holmes


Posted in Race Reports, Ultra MarathonComments (0)

34th Annual Strolling Jim 40 Miler Ultramarathon Medal (2012)

34th Strolling Jim 40 Miler Medal (2012)

Here is the finisher’s medal from the 34th Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run that took place on May 5, 2012 in Wartrace, Tennessee.

The best medal they’ve had so far in the history of the event. The medal was large as you can see the outline of a quarter to the left of the medal.


[Medal submitted by RIF #1 Joshua Holmes. Follow him on Twitter @bayou]

Posted in Bling, Featured, Medals, Ultra MarathonComments (0)

Strolling Jim 40 Miler – 2012 Winners – Kathy Youngren – Blake Thompson – Dink Taylor

Blake Thompson Wins 34th Strolling Jim 40 Miler (Results)

Huntsville’s Blake Thompson won the 34th Strolling Jim 40 Miler on May 6, 2012 with a winning time of 5:17:29 for the 41.2 mile course.

Thompson’s time was the slowest winning time in race history according to Race Director Mike Melton.  This was due in large part to the high temperatures and humidity that took a toll on all of the runners throughout the grueling hills of Wartrace, Tennessee.

Second place went to Strolling Jim veteran Dink Taylor (5:29:01) who has run 24+ Jims.  Third place went to ‘Bruce’ Sung Ho Choi (5:33:21) of Jacksonville, Florida.

Top overall female went to Huntsville native Kathy Youngren with a time of 6:04:35.

Second place female was Beth McCurdy (6:33:01) with third place female going to Kim Nosenchuk-Brooks (6:46:57).

Top 34th Strolling Jim Finishers

  1. Blake Thompson – 5:17:29
  2. Dink Taylor – 5:29:01
  3. ‘Bruce’ Sung Ho Choi – 5:33:21
  4. David Jones – 5:36:22
  5. Tom Dolan – 5:48:59
  6. Andy Bruner – 5:56:33
  7. Kathy Youngren – 6:04:35 (F)
  8. Christopher Cadotte – 6:10:11
  9. Timothy Pitts – 6:11:19
  10. Dwayne Satterfield – 6:14:00
  11. Robert Youngren – 6:14:50
  12. Carl Laniak – 6:25:40
  13. Robby Callahan – 6:27:17
  14. Evan Dare – 6:31:34
  15. Beth McCurdy – 6:33:01 (F)
  16. Gary Dawkins – 6:35:39
  17. Hal McClure – 6:38:23
  18. Orlando Baez – 6:45:20
  19. Kim Nosenchuk-Brooks – 6:46:57 (F)
  20. George Menyhert – 6:46:58
  21. William Arnold – 6:51:34
  22. Dana MacCorquodale – 6:58:37

One of the scarier and heroic moments of the race happened during the last mile when Chris Estes, who was on a 6:30ish finishing pace, jumped over a guardrail to help save a fellow runner who had fallen over the guardrail (full story).

[photo via Dink: Kathy Youngren, Blake Thompson, Dink Taylor]

Posted in Results, Running, Ultra MarathonComments (0)

Recommended Race: Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run

Recommended Race: Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run

From time to time here on Run It Fast we feature races that we highly recommend because one of us have run the race before and had a great experience doing so.

The Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run in Wartrace, TN is one of these races. It’s an ultra marathon of 40 miles that is run entirely on paved roads.

The race is challenging and very hilly. The heat and humidity can also take a toll on you as the day progresses.  SJ40 usually comprises a collection of elite athletes, ultra veterans, and newbies to ultras.  There is always a friendly environment between all of the runners and you get a lot of bang for your buck with a pre-race pasta dinner and post race meal included.

The 2010 edition of ‘The Jim’ was won by 2007 Badwater champion Valmir Nunes, of Brazil, with at time of 4:44:43.  The last finisher crossed the line in 12:46:37. The race has no cut off and waits for everyone who wants to finish it.

The 33rd annual Strolling Jim takes place on May 7, 2011.  Signups are underway and the race will be capped at 250 runners (101 ran it last year).

Strolling Jim 40 Miler Website – (Sign Up at UltraSignUp.com) -$50 before Feb 28, $60 after

Race Director Mike Melton can be reached via email at mike@mcmelton.com

Strolling Jim 40 Mile Ultra Marathon Review

Posted in Ultra MarathonComments (0)

Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run Logo

Strolling Jim 40 Mile Ultra Marathon Review

On May 1st of this year, I ran and survived the Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run – Ultra Marathon – in Wartrace, Tennessee.  I was, by far, the green one of the 109 participants, as most had done the race before and/or much longer Ultras.  For example, the guy I had dinner with the night before had coompleted several 100-mile races.

Six years ago I decided to do a full marathon (26.2 miles) to see if I could do it.   It was also 1 of the 100 things I wanted to do in my life list….which has now become known worldwide as The Bucket List thanks to Justin Zackham (nice guy btw) and his hit film of the same title.

Having run 7 marathons in the past 5 months, and a marathon each of the past two weekends, I was looking for a new challenge, as well as a long distance race within driving distance.  A couple of Google searches later and I found the Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run in Bedford County. I felt good 2 days after the Country Music Marathon in Nashville and decided to register for the Strolling Jim in an attempt to push my endurance limits further.


Registration/Cost: A buck a mile! That’s right, just $40 to run this great race.  The registration process was very easy on UltraSignUp.com, and the real beauty is there is no added on fees ala Ticketmaster.  UltraSignup also does a great job keeping track of Ultra Marathoners race results and ranking runners based on their prior results.

Pre Race: Packet and bib pickup was in a small tent across from the historic Walking Horse Hotel right there in the small town of Wartrace.  The hotel was also host to the pre-race pasta dinner the night before that was included in the price of the race.  It was easy to get to and the pasta dinner was all-you-can eat and good.

The race started promptly on Saturday at 7 am with Gary Cantrell blowing a conch shell to signal for the runners to take off.

The 40 Mile Run:  Never having done a race of this distance before, I was unsure as to the proper strategy to employ to conquer it.  As with any race, I had three goals: 1. Be alive at the end of the day, 2. Finish the race, and 3. a projected time I wanted to finish in.  I set my projected goal at 8 hours.  Over the course of 40 miles you meet many friendly runners along the way.  Ultra marathoners love to share their advice, strategies, and nutrition plans with you to help pass the time and miles.

I grew up in the flat hills of West Tennessee so I found the large elevation changes (elevation chart) at Strolling Jim challenging at times.  I learned mid way through that if I was going to walk, that I needed to walk up the steep hills instead of using all my energy to run up the hills then being spent and having to walk down the declines.  The large hills/mountains (it seemed at times) did have a positive effect in helping keep the legs fresh by almost always using different muscles depending upon if I was running up or down the hill.

There was plenty of hydration along the way, in the form of water jugs, for refilling our water bottles.  There were also 4 stations to have a drop bag.  This came in handy for snacks, gels, first aid, and/or having an extra pair of dry running shoes.

The course was fair for the most part. In my opinion, the first half was tougher than the last twenty miles.  ’The Walls’ during miles 30-35 were small bumpy hills that helped rejuvenate the legs, body, and restored belief in me that I was in fact going to be able to finish the 40 miler if I kept taking it mile-by-mile.  I found the last 10 miles of the course to be extremely beautiful and full of big green trees providing shade over several extended parts.

I ended up finishing strong and meeting my 8 hour goal by finishing in 7 hours 37 minutes.  45-year old Brazilian Valmir Nunes blew everyone away winning in 4 hours 44 minutes.  The last person across the finish line had a time of 12 hours 46 minutes.

Nunes also holds the Badwater Ultra Marathon record of 22:51:29.  Badwater is known as the toughest Ultra in the world.

I luckily finished the race before the hail and massive rain storm took place.  The rains continued on through the next couple of days, in what led to the historic Nashville flooding that did hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and forced evacuations of the city.  I might have been finished, but there were runners still out on the course for nearly five hours after I was done in those conditions.   I really admire those runners, their perseverance, and how they endured to finish the race in such conditions.

Post Race: After finishing I felt great considering it was my first Ultra.   The mixture of walking and running over the last 15 miles helped keep the legs fresh, evenly worn, and helped me finish.  I was quickly given a medal for conquering the 40 at the finish line.  The medal was simple, and comparable to a 5K medal, but a nice keepsake to remember ‘the Jim.’  I felt even better upon finding the complimentary post-race Bar-B-Q buffet complete with sides and SWEET TEA…yes my vice!

I enjoyed meeting several runners during the Strolling Jim that included Ray KrolewiczWill JorgensenBeth McCurdyChrissy Ferguson, and Juli Aistars (who won the Vol State 500k two months later).  They were all extremely nice and hopefully I we will run into them again soon at another race.

It’s a great race!  That is the short and sweet explanation of the Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run.  I plan to make it back next year and finish faster to hopefully earn one of the coveted red shirts that goes to runners that finish the race in under 7 hours.

Race director Mike Melton did a superb job putting the race on and in taking time to mail stuff to those of us that left gear bags at the drop spots.

The 33rd version of The Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run is set for May 7, 2011. More info about this run can be found on The Strolling Jim website.

2010 Strolling Jim 40 Mile Results

Official Site of the Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run

Posted in Ultra MarathonComments (2)

Run It Fast on Twitter

twitter button free