From Ash Walsh
Remember when running a race was just that? Racing? When there wasn't a ton of hype, a year ahead commitment required, a politically correct entry process, or a $300 fee to get in?
Somewhere over the last several years, ultra and trail racing took a little corporate lookin' side trail and then it kinda just stayed on it. And it's not a terrible thing! This path is fun and exciting and providing opportunities for many, but it's not quite the path that everyone was looking to follow...
For lots of folks, MUT running was once a way to escape the crowds of the roads, completely detach from the stressors of society, and every now and then, throw down a friendly competition with other runners who love to do the same. But long gone are the days of the 50 buck ultra you could sign up for on the day of! To be quite honest, this makes breaking into the sport pretty hard for first timers or runners looking to make a jump to trails from roads. It also makes it difficult to train and race well because events now require a ton of long-term commitment. This then creates pressure, and before you know it, you're wrapped up in the stress of a big production and the whole fun and simple thing you loved so much is kind of, well, exhuasting.
I started running in 2008 and finished my first 100 mile race in 2010. It wasn't on any epic trails, and no one even cared that it happened. It was a bunch of loops on a Georgia trail with lots of people just there to hang out and have fun. The moment I finished; I knew I was hooked. I loved the experience. I went home that day with a t-shirt and an accomplishment. That's all they offered, and that's all I needed.
I'm hoping with this new race series that we can provide an option for runners who want to ditch the frills and hype, and instead experience some good old-fashioned trail racing. Flatrock will be the first of many races we have planned with an emphasis on keeping things fun and down-to-earth, yet still super competitive and exciting in their own right. Each event will feature a unique spin to keep the adrenaline flowing, and the stoke high. Additionally, the goal is for each event to be beginner, wallet, and commitment friendly. We plan to keep our prices as low as the economy allows and will provide race credit and bib transfer options if something comes up and you need to back out.
Oh, and what's with the Flatrock name? Little backstory for you: I have lived in the same Georgia town (or the town over) for all 36 years of my life. People can hate on the South as much as they want, but I love it here! Back in high school, one of the fun things for us bored Southern kids to do was go "mud-boggin" or off-roading in the woods. We would often head down to a hidden place called Flatrock to hang out or party. Not just anyone could get there though, you could only get there with a fully capable vehicle! This provided tons of adventures and a couple crazy stories that have stayed with me over the years. Today, Harbins Park is now in the same general area where everyone would hang back in the day. When I run in the park, I often think of those simpler days and smile. All the vibes from Flatrock twenty-something years ago are exactly what I want this race to represent, so the name was a natural fit. I'm hoping these trail runs can bring about some fond memories for you and your friends in the future! Just bring your shoes, your crew, some good vibes, then head on down to Flatrock and let the party begin! See y'all soon - Ash