While running one mile can seem like a daunting process to many, running over 26 miles seems ludicrous to most people, runners or not. And yet, on April 28 in the Maryville College Woods, hundreds of ludicrous people will gather to run a 50k (31 miles), or a 100k (62 miles) or the grand race of 100 miles.
The Three Sisters Ultra Festival is a big, 24 hour party of people who like to run and people who like to watch other people run. Running a loop of 3.125 miles, each runner will have the chance to pass their spectator friends who are drinking and eating while they continue onto the next loop. While it may sound like torture, the reality is that it really is one big party of people who love the outdoors and love sweating.
The race is divided by timed sections of six hours, 12 hours and 14 hours, with the sections having 10 loops, 20 loops and 32 loops, respectively. Runners will be able to access aid, or warmth, under the pavillion after each loop. Areas will also be set up for runners to have their own personal aid section, such as specific snacks and drinks they prefer to have while running.
For those who might not be interested in running that many miles, there are also relay options. Relay teams give runners the opportunity to pass on the metaphorical baton to another teammate, running the race in sections rather than in its entirety. For the six hour race, a team may have up to four people and for the 12 and 24 hour race, a team can have either three people or six people.
The race website claims that, “you people who’d rather run than drink will have more opportunities!” Additionally, the website claimed that there is “no restriction on how many laps each team member runs, so theoretically you could have a team with one runner and a bunch of people who just sit around and drink the whole time.”
Regardless of if you’re running or not, this race sounds like a good time for the spectators too. There will also be a couple of bands playing to entertain those drinking and socializing by the fire, and serving as a beckoning sound to those running in the woods at night. The disc golf course will be open as well, and as the website claims, “when have you ever played a quick nine holes of disc golf in the middle of an ultra?”
The Three Sisters Ultra Festival gets its name from the three peaks of Chilhowee mountain overlooking Maryville College’s campus. While the run doesn’t climb nearly as steep as Chilhowee’s lofty peaks, the runners of the Three Sisters will definitely still feel the burn from their woodsy loops on Maryville’s campus. So come out, share a beverage or snack with a fellow outdoor enthusiast, and cheer on the crazy runners.