ultraRUNNER Article

 Carl Touchstone Memorial
Mississippi Trail 50
Dennis Bisnette, Director

††††††††††† The 10th Annual Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi Trail 50 was held March 12, 2005 in the Piney Woods of the Desoto National Forest south of Laurel, Mississippi. This year for the first time in many rain and cold were not factors. †The course was dry for Mississippi in the spring where the usual rain total in the month of March is over 6 inches. This year the cumulative rain deficit was nearly three inches at the start of the run. †Creek crossings were step over affairs rather than wading adventures of the past. Mud on the course was in short supply all the way around. With a dry course and moderate temperatures many PRís were set. One runner was heard to comment that he was over one hour faster this year than last year but enjoyed the muddy wet course more. Some runners have a sense of humor.†

A record number of participants, 205 from 26 states, Canada and England, registered with 183 starting the various runs of 50 miles, 50K and 20K. The majority of the field elected to run the 50 miler. Several came up short due to the 12 hour time limit and the temperatures easing into the low 70ís after a cool morning start at 40 degrees.

Due to the dry conditions and cool morning temperatures several new course records were set. In the 20K Dale Reicheneder of California completed the course in a new record time of 1:18.57. Also breaking the previous course record was second place finisher, Alan Gerstle of Louisiana with a time of 1:21.24 and third place finisher, Curtis Swisher of North Carolina in 1:23.35. The 20K was added in 2003 and now draws almost one third of the field. The 50K also saw a new course record. Ryne Melcher of Ontario Canada finishing in a blistering 3:34.42. Nichaols Clark of Georgia also broke the previous course record with a second place time of 3:45.10. Third went to Christopher Hallows of Georgia in 3:51.25. The previous 50K course record was held by Dink Taylor at 3:46:02. Dewayne Satterfield won the 50 miler in a time of 6:51.37, his fourth fastest time on the course. Unfortunately, the weather started to heat as the day progressed resulting in no new records in the 50 miler. Other male winners were Brian Robinson of Alabama in 7:21:40 and Greg Gearhart of Mississippi in 7:35:27.

On the female side of the run, the 20K was won by Mississippiís own Mandy Conrad in 1:42:48. Second place was Jennifer Dick 1:43:32, the only other Canadian in the field, and third was Brandy Gambling also of Mississippi in 1:45:32. In the 50K Dana Overton finished first female in 4:30:59 nearly one hour before second place Donna Brussard of Louisiana completed her first 50K trail run in 5:30.02. Third place was a tie with Francine and Lee Johnson both 39 years old from Mississippi, appearing but unconfirmed as twins, sharing the third place trophy in 5:41.43. Of note Leigh Ayn Drye finished the 50K in 5:19:05 but was ineligible for awards having switched from the 50 miler.† In the 50 mile run finishing third overall and first female was Ann Heaslett of Wisconsin at 7:33:07. Ann decimated the field by over two hours. Second was Amanda Perron of Louisiana in 9:58:33 and third Mary Kashurba of Pennsylvania at 10:48:02.††† †††

A feature unique to the MS 50 is that one can only DNF if unable to complete the 20K. Competitors are credited with a 20K finish even if entered in the 50M or 50K and end up short. Though disqualified from awards and suffering an atrocious finish time in the 20K a competitor can start a 50K, finish one loop, continue for 25 miles, quit the run and still be credited with a 20K finish. Conversely, a competitor can start the 20K run at the early start time and end up with a 50K finish or even a 50 mile finish. No 20K competitor has gone on to finish a 50 miler but encouragement is ample. While the attitude of the Race Director is relaxed in allowing changes even as the run is ongoing, competitor must have a strong mental attitude when continuing to a 50 mile finish. This year 7 competitors switched from the 50 miler to the 50K. Those who did not make the 8:45 elapsed time cutoff to begin the last 12.5 mile loop in the 50 miler were involuntarily switched suffering bad 50K times but being credited with a finishing time. Several 50K runners attempted to switch to the 50 miler, but later found the going too hot. They switched back after completing 37.5 miles, and were credited with a 50K. ††

Included in the entry fee was a pre run carbo meal of salad, rolls, spaghetti, sauce, cookies and brownies provided by South Central Regional Medical Center. The meeting took place at the Ramada Inn of Laurel, host hotel for many years, in a room filled beyond capacity with a crowd in excess of 225. After many door prizes furnished by Trail Runner Magazine; Runners Journal; Buffalo Peak Outfitters of Jackson, Mississippi; Fleet Feet of Jackson, Mississippi; Hammer Gel; E-Caps; and Road ID, among others, competitors were give a course briefing. Five persons received special recognition and awards for having participated in all 10 events Ten year awards were a little premature but all of the 10 year participants completed their events the next day.† All trophies and awards were beautiful custom made awards in the shape of the State of Mississippi with the 2005 logo. †

All entrants received a Patagonia silk weight running shirt and finishers received a cool max runnerís cap. Those finishing the 50 miler received a custom designed belt buckle. The included post run meal of hamburgers or sausage dogs with beans, chips, macaroni and cheese and drinks was enjoyed by all.

For full results, news and information about next yearís event see www.ms50.com.