2021 was the inaugural year for the Hell Creek race series, presented by Ultraverse Supplements and Hays Nutrition. This race featured a 20-mile, 100k, and 100-mile race. The Hell Creek race series takes place on the challenging yet beautiful Switchgrass Mountain Bike Trail located at Wilson State Park in Kansas.
The weather for this year’s race couldn’t have been more beautiful, and the runners definitely appreciated a break from the scorching heat we had in Kansas this summer.
Keep reading to hear a recap of each race distance! You can also find all the results on Ultrasignup’s website
20 Mile Race
The Hell Creek 20-mile race had 40 runners toe the line. Interestingly, it was split evenly with 20 male and 20 female runners. For many of the 20-mile runners, this was their first race over a half-marathon, and it was a challenging course to do it on.
The men’s race was pretty tight for this distance, and the first-ever course record will be tough to beat! Here are the times for the top 3 men:
1st Place Male & 1st Place Overall: Brooks Wachs 2:54:13
2nd Place Male & 2nd Place Overall: Aaron Voth 2:59:31
3rd Place Male & 3rd Place Overall: Jonathan Prosser 3:10:01
The women also put up a great effort for our inaugural year:
1st Place Female & 9th Place Overall: Stephanie Bieberle 3:54:57
2nd Place Female and 11th Place Overall: Hannah Enslow 4:03:58
3rd Place Female & 14th Place Overall: Laura Stabb 4:19:45
The 100k race saw 19 runners at the first break of light to start the race. Unfortunately, three runners had to withdraw from the race before finishing. This race could have been named the WYCO Wolfpack 100K, as it had several runners from this Kanas City area running club. We appreciated having their group at the race to cheer their runners on and every other runner until the very end of the race! Just another example of the great community that surrounds ultrarunning.
The men’s race saw a blistering first-place finish by Cody Jones that will be extremely difficult to beat! This is an impressive course record on this challenging course!
1st Place Male & 1st Place Overall: Cody Jones 8:51:11
2nd Place Male & 2nd Place Overall: Kendall Parks 12:09:57
3rd Place Male & 3rd Place Overall: Jeremiah Nemechek 12:28:51
The women’s 100k field was small, with only two runners. However, that didn’t stop them from putting forth a tremendous effort!
1st Place Female & 5th Place Overall: Taylor Budd 14:06:05
2nd Place Female & 13th Overall: Kali Morgan 19:38:36
100 Mile Race
As race directors, we knew that this course was no joke. Chase had run it several times, and we all spent a lot of time on it leading up to the race. We also knew some runners would likely underestimate the course simply because of being located in Kansas. It definitely took its toll on the 100-mile runners over their five 20-mile laps. Fifteen runners braved the start line, but only 8 finished the race.
As with the other two distances, first-place finisher David Box put on a show!
1st Place Male & 1st Place Overall: David Box 19:46:57
2nd Place Male & 2nd Place Overall: Justin Reed 27:33:55
3rd Place Male & 3rd Place Overall: Stuart Hircock 28:04:34
The lone female running the 100 put forth an immense effort and faced (literally, her face hit the ground) many obstacles to make an emotional finish.
1st Place Female & 8th Place Overall: Jaclyn Long 30:50:20
For several runners, this was their first attempt at 100 miles, and they picked a challenging course to do it on!
Here are the runners who got their first 100-mile finish:
Highs, Lows, and Everything In-Between
We were even lucky enough to have a couple of runners bring along their furry, trail-running friends! And many were very surprised by the sometimes technical, rolling hills of this trail.
While Kansas is primarily flat, the Switchgrass mountain bike trail is not! As of 2021, the 100-mile distance has the most elevation change of any 100-mile race in Kansas at 10,120 feet.
Over 32 hours, we saw many highs and many lows. Runners loved the course and commented on its beauty. I heard several runners exclaim that they couldn’t stop pausing their running to take photos of the scenery. Others also exclaimed how they could not believe that they were always going either up or down. Rarely is the course flat, which can take a toll on runners throughout an ultramarathon.
Chase, Jordon, Kayla, and I wanted so badly to see all the runners finish this race! We had gotten to know these people, many on a personal level, through our Facebook group and even more at the race itself. It crushed us every time one of them came and told us they were throwing in the towel.
Unfortunately, not everyone finishes, and the inaugural year of the Hell Creek race claimed many runners, some of which are coming back in 2022 to take another stab at finishing! Some runners didn’t get enough of the course and are coming back for the same race distance in 2022. Others are going to push themselves further and tackle a longer distance.
The inaugural year of the Hell Creek race series saw runners from all over the country! The final count showed runners from 14 different states. Liz Krape returned all the way to Kansas from Florida, just to run the trails near her hometown! We had another runner come all the way from Maryland to run with her sister. It never ceases to amaze me how this sport brings people together!
Looking to Next Year
This race was the manifestation of something Chase and I had been dreaming and talking about for years. We set out to put on a fantastic race that runners would love to come out and participate in. Thanks to Jordon and Kayla teaming up with us, we could finally make that dream a reality!
We couldn’t have been happier with how everything went. Words cannot express how grateful we were to all the runners, volunteers, sponsors, and crew members. The ultra-running community would not be the same without all these people, and the Hell Creek race series wouldn’t exist! We made many new friends from all walks of life and all over the country.
Once again, we were humbled and amazed by the ultra-running community. Everyone is so supportive of each other, and everyone from every walk of life is welcome. If you haven’t personally experienced the magic of an ultra, then I highly suggest you do. There isn’t much like it out there!
Next year is already shaping up to be another fantastic race! Several people have already signed up, and it going to be a great time!
We also have a new race distance to add for 2022, the longest distance race in Kansas, and we thought the name would be pretty fitting: PURE HELL 140!
Registration for all distances is open for 2022, so sign up today while spots are still available!
There will also be a Backyard Style Last Man Standing Event on this same trail system in April 2022. It is fittingly named Eternal Damnation. For more information on that race, visit the website.
Also, a special thanks to all our sponsors for 2021’s race:
Ken Carter Trucking
Gella’s Diner & Lb. Brewing Co.