UROC, the Ultra Race of Champions, is positioning itself as the premiere east coast race; the right mix of beauty and technical. James Russell Gill and Francesca Conte are proud that this race is built for both the competitive athlete and the weekend warrior.
Runners face long climbs, rock strewn technical segments and can even stretch out on the Blue Ridge Parkway while connecting trails. To tempt speed demons, the race offers the largest prize purse in the east coast.
You can find more difficult races on the east coast, but the Blue Ridge Mountains and Skylark Nature Preserve are home to a welcoming and impeccably organized event.
Rain was forecasted to begin shortly after the race start and continue throughout the day and night. On Friday during the outdoor race briefing, everyone enjoyed the evening light.
Race day graced us with a thermal inversion and the dramatic clouds below us portrayed the foggy, rainy day runners would face. The race started fast with 16 miles mostly downhill. Tyler Sigl, last year's winner, helmed a pack of the leaders.
In the women's race, Katie Arnold, 2018 Leadville winner, and Riley Bailey hit the 16 mile turnaround together, but Riley made a move coming out of the aid station a minute before Katie. Katie made it up and retook the lead in the next 10 miles.
Runners turned around and returned to Skylark, where the top 5 was well defined. Tyler Sigl, the defending champion leading with 15 minutes of cushion. Rain started early afternoon, well-timed to when the temperatures started to get warm. The cooling effect spurred on the lead runners who were whooping on the Parkway before climbing Bald Mountain. Visibility was quite difficult as fog settled in.
The women’s race came down to a battle Katie Arnold and Riley Brady. Katie took the lead from the early part of the race, with Riley Brady and Rachel Kelley in chase. For most of the first half Riley Brady was within minutes of Katie Arnold. In the last 20 miles, Riley Brady took the lead.
The men’s race was tight at mile 50 where Tyler Sigl, last year's champion, was seconds ahead of Luke Paulson. Luke Paulson took the lead about a mile later and created a 15 minute gap in the remaining miles. The cool temperatures allowed 4 men to finish under 10 hours.