In honor of Throwback Thursday, I wanted to look back at a race I ran in high school. Most of my races throughout high school were either the 5k in the fall or the mile and the 2 mile in the spring. This race was a little more special and hands down one of my favorite races and experiences. In 2004 and 2005 I started my winter break by traveling to Huntington, Indiana to run the relay event at the HUFF 50k. Totally normal thing for a high schooler to do, right? Our coach, who had a sister in the area, told us about this race and many of the cross country team signed up right away. We divided up into teams of three, and after season was officially over, we “trained” for our next event.
At the time, the HUFF was located in Huntington, which is where the name came from, Huntington Ultra Frigid Fifty. The course made its way through a number of terrains, including trails, roads, bridges, and fields. The weather was always unpredictable, going from clear roads, to a dusting of snow, to tromping through a foot of snow. Between the course and the weather, everything was unpredictable, but that’s what made it interesting. Because we were running the relay, each person would run 10.8 miles, a small feat compared to the runners doing the entire 50k.
The race started off with a cannon and nearly scared me to death each time. I don’t remember the course by heart, but remember that it started off through the trails and my feet were numb within the first mile. We always tried to pair up so we wouldn’t be alone, but also were aware that many of the other runners were experienced in trail running, so we stayed out of the way when we could. Around 3 or 4 miles we found ourselves on some paved roads and quickly ended back up in the woods to head towards some fields. The views were something I’ll never forget and were absolutely gorgeous. Everything was peaceful and untouched. A few miles later, I think we headed towards a long stretch of road across the dam. The wind was rough and you felt like you weren’t moving. You finished up the course by running back in the woods, where you would make your way to the start/relay exchange area. At this point, you would either continue the loop two more times, or your relay partner would take their chance at the course.
From what I remember, the water stops weren’t that far apart and they had a great arrangement of food and drinks. I also remember a lot of walking. Most of us had never run that far, especially on snow covered trails, but we never gave up. Both years I ran, I had a wonderful time and wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. The whole weekend was very well run, and the post run food was amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures on the course, but if you search Google images for Huff 50k, you’ll get a good sense of what to expect. Spoiler: Snow and trails.
Since then, the course has been moved and appears to be a more challenging event. I haven’t been back, but over the past few years I keep thinking that I’ll take another shot at this event. Whether it be the relay or the whole shebang, I’m excited to run the HUFF again someday.
Leg Time: 1:54
50k Time: 5:02:51
Mixed 19 & Under: 3rd Place
Leg Time: 1:52
50k Time: 5:30:16
Mixed 19 & Under: 2nd Place