2004 MS 50 Race Reports

Steve and Marsha again my thanks go out for another job well done. I had
another good time this year. I enjoy the water and mud you have to offer in MS. Although you missed on the horses this year the holes and ruts they left last year were another obstacle to reckon with. Running with Eric and DeWayne was a good time even if I was the only one without a Doctorate.
Thanks Eric and DeWayne for the pace setting and the conversation, you 2 are in another league. I would like to thank my Ranger Buddy John Sheaffer for joining me on this trip and running an outstanding 3rd in the 50k, it was his first run in 10 days coming off an Achilles injury during training. Running Bear, your the man and thanks for your loyal support.  I am looking forward to next year and maybe a dry course so I can take a shot at a sub 4 hr. Have a good one.

Matt Wilson
4/28/04 Note: In April 2004 Matt Wilson and John Sheaffer finished second in the Best Ranger Competition 2004, finishing with 743 points, 9 points behind the #1 team.

"When we run, we have fun! Water is my friend, from one end of the loop to the other, the mud and muck had no end!! What a great time, plenty of friendly volunteers, sunshine, smiles and aid station snacks. The chicken dinner at the post race festivities was delicious. Another successful race this year.

Steve Burgess

Running Bear,
I participated in the 2004 20K trail run.  I liked everything about the
actual race except for the first turn in the trail.  There was a sign which
read something like "50M and 50K ----->" instructing those runners to turn
right.  I fully admit that I didn't study the course ahead of time and ended
up getting lost with 4 or 5 other runners because we didn't see any
instructions for the 20K runners to turn.  It was my error for not studying
the course beforehand, but I am also accustomed to more specific signs for
different distance races.  The remainder of the course was marked very well.

The race t-shirt and jacket could also be improved.  The t-shirt, while
appropriate for mud, was simple and boring.  The jacket was the extreme
opposite, and will probably never be worn.  If it were up to me, I would
avoid the freebies and opt for a lower race entry fee.

Overall, I enjoyed the race.  The people are top-notch, and very friendly. 
The aid stations were among the best I have ever seen.  The post-race
chicken dinner was very good.  The course is challenging and varied, and I
thought the creek crossings were great!  At times, the mud made me question whether this race should be advertised as a "run", but it makes for some good stories afterwards.

Thank you for your hospitality and for organizing a great event, and thanks
to all the great volunteers.

Thanks again,
Greg Knott

Dear Ultrarunner
Carl Touchstone Mississippi Trail 50
The 9th annual Carl Touchstone Mississippi Trail 50 (MS50 for short) was held March 6, 2004 on the Longleaf Horse Trail at the De Soto National Forest. For the second consecutive year we had an all time record crowd, with 150 runners from 18 states signed up to participate, up slightly from 146 the previous year.  The runner who came the furthest was from CA. Several entrants were in their 70's, and one runner, Jimmy Moore from Crystal Springs, MS was 82. Average age was 44. Four persons who attended have run in the MS50 all 9 years. Three persons have run 8 times, four persons have run 7 times, and altogether forty-two persons have run 4 or more times. Steve DeReamer has never gotten to run his hometown ultra, as he has been MS50 Race Director for every race.

The weather cooperated the week of the race, with no appreciable rain all week. Until race day, that is. From 1:30 to 3:30 am on race day it poured. This resulted in a course condition in which, as one runner described it "the mud was not as bad as last year, but the creeks were deeper" (waist deep on short folks). 139 entrants finished, but nine 50 milers switched down to the 50K, and several 50k folks dropped to 20K. The temperature was in the high 50's at the start, and stayed comfortable for several hours, then rapidly climbed to near 80.

 Eric Grossman was first seed in the 50 miler. Eric has won several ultras, and placed third in the JFK 50 Miler last November. Eric, DeWayne Satterfield, and Matt Wilson (who was running the 50K) ran together the first several laps, but then Eric started to widen his lead on DeWayne, and won the 50 miler in 6:39, while Matt turned off to the short loop and won the 50K in 4:05. DeWayne was second in the 50M with a time of 7:30, and Greg Gearhart from Jackson MS was third in 7:37.

Only 4 women ran the 50 miler this year, with Sally Brookings from Atlanta winning in 8:57, Kriesten Schnacke from Tennessee finishing second in 9:02, and Barb Dutrow from Louisiana third in 9:29. Raz Estridge from Laurel completed her first ever 50 miler, and was 4th in 12:14. (The MS 50 is a great race for beginners and persons stepping up to a longer distance, as it is a loop course, it's flat, and there are aid stations every 2-4 miles. In addition, you can opt down to a shorter distance during the race! 51 of the 150 runners were running their distance for the first time.)

 In the 50K, Matt bettered his time from last year by 10 minutes, finishing in 4:05. John Cobbs from AL was second with a time of 4:12, and John Sheaffer from GA was third in 4:42. The masters women really showed their stuff, as Laura Taylor (1st in 5:20), Iva Lightsey (2nd in 5:55), and Brenda Bland (3rd in 6:43) were all in their 40's.

 In the 20K, last year's runner-up, Alan Gerstle, a track coach from LA, came back this year and won handily, beating Chris Barber from NV and Todd Miller from MN to the line by over 4 minutes with a time of 1:27. Christie Barber from MS won for the women with a time of 1:59, with LeAnn Myers of LA and Stephanie Pepper from TN taking second and third.

 Trophies were awarded to the top 3 males and females in each event, and finisher mementos of medals and Tyvek jackets were awarded to each finisher. The 50 milers also got a handsome belt buckle. A full course chicken dinner was cooked on-site this year, so everyone had a hot meal to help everyone recover from his or her exertions.

 See the Mississippi Trail 50 web site at www.ms50.com for complete coverage of the race, and news on next year's event.

The ole Troubadour Rich Limacher adds...
Here's a thought you never think at the start of an ultra:  Hmmm, I wonder if this thing's gonna be called on account o' rain.
Impossible, right?  As we all know, these ultras go on (just like the mail) whether there's rain or shine or snow or hail or sleet or dark of night or heat of day or anything just short of the Apocalypse--except for this one.  Here already this race has been shut down twice!
Yep, the Memorial Carl Touchstone Mississlippery Monsoon 50-Miler has in fact been "called" on account of rain.  It didn't happen this time, thankfully, but I was there both times before when the cataclysm hit.  Trumpets sounded, the heavens parted, and it just poured.
Both times I was running through the very same water and mud as this time, but in those years it was worse.  In 1998 the infamous DeSoto National "Creek Don't Rise" Creek actually did rise to the level of my neck, and so most of us a couple of times had to swim across.  Also in '01 we did a little swimming.  Both times the good forest rangers decided that death could come to our shorter runners, so they forced the R.D. to stop the race--but always before I could start my last loop.
Carl himself gave me the bad news that first year.  He apologized profusely, called me later on the telephone, and allowed me to finish the 50K instead.  (There's two loops in this forest.  The shorter race utilizes the dryer path---which is still a joke because there jus' ain't no "dry" path ever!)  Sadly, though, Carl passed away before the deluge came the second time.  And I could swear that in 2001, those were Carl's tears which flooded that creek.  Or, perhaps they were mine.
But this year, hey wow.  The skies brightened up and good ol' Sol popped out.  I looked later at my pale Yankee nauga's hide and saw sunburn!  Of course, that still didn't make any difference.  It must've rained in Carl's town for at least ten minutes prior to race day, because those trails were soaked and the mud was over our shoes.  This, I would like to state for the record, is how Mississippi is supposed to be.  We wouldn't have it any other way!
Did you know we all took a vote?  Yessir!  Last year Steve DeReamer and the rest of his hothouse gang asked us all to vote via e-mail whether we'd like to move the race to the fall sometime, and the overwhelming majority hollered, "Hail no!"  Hey, this is about the only ultra I've got that's held on my birthday, and also, for sure, the only shot I've got for a race I'm in to be "called on account of rain."
Think about that this year whenever you're hurting so bad you can't even stand to look at your shoes.  Then come to Carl's race next March.  Who knows?  Those better angels of Mother Nature could rain down and stop your pain!
                    --# # #--