Follow the White Blazes
Rock/Creek's UpChuck 50K offers tough terrain and navigational challenges
It's a perfect late-fall day. A chilly morning transforms to a warm, sunny afternoon and crunchy ...
Photo by Robert Milks
It's a perfect late-fall day. A chilly morning transforms to a warm, sunny afternoon and crunchy, fallen leaves blanket the ground in a dozen autumn shades. Overjoyed, 15 miles into the infamous UpChuck 50K, I fling my arms out in celebration while ascending steep switchbacks covered in ankle-deep oak leaves hiding loose rocks and slick roots. I keep my eyes peeled for the white blazes marking the race route along the Cumberland Trail.
UpChuck is the brain child of ultrarunning buddies Matt Sims, also the founder of StumpJump 50K, and Chad Womack, Wild Trails board member and co-race director with Jonathan Mobley for the Rock/Creek Trail Series. "We want UpChuck to be a low-key, ole fashioned trail race," says Womack. Indeed, Mobley wrote our race numbers on our hands with a black sharpie as we boarded a school bus bound for the race start, and volunteers and race organizers greeted us by our first names and encouraged us like old friend at each checkpoint. The race is limited to 60 participants and run on a breathtaking 31-mile section referred to as the Three Gorges, passing through Rock Creek, Possom and Soddy Creek gorges on the outskirts of Chattanooga, Tennessee.