This Event Took Place Sat. Nov 15, 2014

New for 2015

More stuff!
Buckles will be given to both 100 mile and 50 mile finishers.
Everyone will receive a long sleeve tech shirt.
Finishers of the 100 mile will receive a nice light weight Jacket.
Pre-race meal will be included in registration fee.
Establish a new 100 mile course record and earn $1000. (Traci Falbo owns it at 14:45:26)
Establish a new 50 mile course record and earn $500. (Matthew Brooks - 6:20:29)
New American Record at 100 miles is worth $2000 ($1000 for cr & $1000 for ar).

Beat the Price Increase, and Avoid being closed out!!

New note! I've been increasing the capacity for the 50 mile from time to time. I'm at the limit now of 200. When we hit 200 runners in the 50 mile, we will go to a wait list for it. We'd like to see the 100 mile hit 200 runners also, and since our max allowed is 400 this year, we will cap each at 200.
That said... as we approach race day, if it is obvious the 100 miler is not going to sell out, we will open registration back to those on the wait list for the 50 mile. We realize that being on the wait list kinda stinks, so we'll try to keep you informed so you can make necessary decisions. You're always encouraged to check with me on these matters.
Tunnel Hill 50 miler is filling up fast, and the 100 miler is not far behind.
Why not insure your spot, and beat the price increase at the same time?!
Sign up today!!

Tunnel Hill runners listed as some of fastest in Ultrarunning Magazine

It is cool to see several TH runners listed in Ultra Running magazine for some of the fastest times run for 100 miles and 50 miles for 2014.
Fastest 50 milers include:
Ashley Ruberg, Neela D'Souza, Kimberly Mahoney, and Christy Odeen.
For men: Matthew Brooks, Nicholas Balbach, and Joe Smoker made the list.

100 milers women:
Of course Traci Falbo's 14:45 was the American Record for a trail 100 and the second fastest on any surface for 2014. My good friend Cynthia Heady was high on the list, along with Michelle Bischof, and Madelyn Blue.
For men:
TH male winner Troy Shellhamer's 16:07 came in as the 33rd fastest 100 miles run in 2014 .
2015 promises to be faster yet. We found ourselves running in cold conditions as a freak cold front dropped temps to the low 20s.
Normal temps are 59/40.

Welcome to the Tunnel Hill 100/50

Living in nearby Paducah, KY, I spent many days on the Tunnel Hill rails to trails.
I was fascinated by the neat bridges, the pretty scenery, and most of all, the dark, cool tunnel.. Even though I knew that trains ran through it, I was always fearful of running into the wall... it seemed to narrow on you as you approached the middle.
After I ran my first 100 miler in 2004 I started to think of hosting a 100 on the Tunnel Hill trails.

I was fortunate enough to be asked by the River to River Runners Club to speak at their banquet this year. There I approached them with the idea of hosting a 100 miler there, with a 50 mile option. They liked the idea, and voila', we have it!

What a great course it is, too! Fast! I'm thinking there is an excellent argument that this could be the fastest hundred miler in the United States.
There are no altitude issues... elevation runs between 340' and 680' above sea level.
No humongous hills... instead a gentle 2% grade.
No trip hazards to contend with at night... this is a crushed limestone, smooth trail. Heck, you might not even need your light at night if the moon is right.
And, we are having it in mid November to take out the hot, humid days.

This just seems to be the perfect 100 miler for first time hundreds (and everyone wants to run 100 miles now, don't they? The same runners who, several years ago, were facing their first marathons).
It's also ideal for veterans to break that elusive 24 hour barrier, or for faster runners to finally crack 20 hours.

Someone could very well go into the mid or even low teens here.

Annnd... don't think that because it's a rails trail that it will be boring... nothing further from the truth... the trail cuts beautifully through gorgeous overlooks, using some very cool bridges. It'll leave you wanting more.

Thanks to the River to River Runners Club, and the wonderful people at Tunnel Hill trails.
We're looking forward to being your host!

Steve Durbin - Race Director

Traci Falbo sets new American Record for trail 100

When we decided to host a 100/50 miler on the beautiful Tunnel Hill State Trail we knew that someone could post a really fast time. Flat, scenic, no trip hazards, no altitude issues, and long "let er rip" sections promised a fast course. Add World Record holder Traci Falbo (most miles indoor for 48 hours), and excitement was high. (much higher than the temperatures.. low 20s at the start, overcast 30s in the day, and a little sleet at night).
Traci cruised to a new American Record for woman on a trail 100 miler with her 14:45:26.
You can see her interview with irunfar by clicking on the link below: OR clicking doesn't work, copy and paste

Tunnel Hill Trail

At one time, the rumble of freight cars reverberated through the narrow tunnel. Wooden trestles, with their system of slanted supports and horizontal cross pieces, spanned numerous bluffs and creeks. Passengers in Pullman cars clocked the miles with these and other landmarks as they traveled one of southern Illinois' most scenic routes.

Today, the railroad is gone. The route, known as Tunnel Hill State Trail, remains.
Tunnel Hill State Trail stretches for over 50 miles from Harrisburg to Karnak. The trail continues on a trails spur for 2.5 miles from Karnak to Cache River State Natural Area - Henry Barkhausen Wetlands Center on the old Chicago and Eastern Illinois railroad bed.

The 9.3-mile section between Tunnel Hill and Vienna crosses trails already known to outdoor recreationists: the River-to-River Trails, which extends from the Mississippi to the Ohio River; the unmarked American Discovery Trails, which in southern Illinois follows back roads and some of the River-to-River Trail; the U.S. 76 Bicycle Route, a part of the TransAmerica Bike Route; and the Trail of Tears, the primary route the Cherokee Indian tribe took in the winter of 1838-39 during their forced move from the Great Smokies to Oklahoma.
From the Illinois Dept of Resources page.

Natural Features

The portion of trail that we'll use extends from, on the northern end, 2.4 miles north of the tunnel, (about 4 miles south of New Burnside), among bluffs, to south of Vienna, where it passes through a lush wetland. At Karnak, it emerges from the Cache River State Natural Area's ancient cypress-tupelo swamp.

As one landform melds into another, the countryside offers ever-changing vistas. Woodland wildflowers dot the forest floor each spring, while prairie flowers and grasses lend their beauty to the summer landscape. Contrasting with the profuse greenery of summer, the lack of foliage on the oak, hickory, tulip poplar, cottonwood and sweet gum trees brings the river valleys and rocky bluffs into sharp focus from late fall to early spring.

Wildlife abounds in this section of the state, and Tunnel Hill State Trail offers habitat to a variety of animals. Bluebirds and other songbirds flit through the trees, while killdeer, dove, quail and wild turkey also are present in the area. Squirrels often are seen scampering among the tree tops, and white-tailed deer are frequently observed. Less noticed, but having a presence, are red foxes, eastern cottontail rabbits, raccoons and opossums.
From the Illinois Dept of Resources page.


If the 45-mile length of Tunnel Hill State Trail could be seen in cross-section, it would taper to its lowest points at either end, with Harrisburg at 370 feet and Karnak at 340 feet above sea level. The highest point is midway at Tunnel Hill, which has an elevation of 680 feet. By mountain standards, it's just a molehill, but it was high enough that railroad builders decided rather than going over it, they'd tunnel through it, giving the landmark its name. Their decision resulted in a comfortable 2 percent grade the length of the trail.

For more than 50 years after the railroad was built, the tunnel was longer than 800 feet, but when a portion of the tunnel collapsed in 1929, the landmark was shortened by 300 feet. Now 543-feet long, it is the only tunnel on the trail. The tunnel is located 1/4 mile south of Tunnel Hill on the trail toward Vienna.

The 23 picturesque trestles along the completed sections of Tunnel Hill State Trail feature decking and side rails, which entice trail users to stop. The trestles range in length from 34 to 450 feet. The longest in Breeden Trestle, which is also the highest at 90 feet. It is located 2 1/2 miles south of Tunnel Hill.

The trail corridor, which varies from 40 to 200 feet in width, connects numerous communities: Karnak in Pulaski County; Belknap, Vienna, Tunnel Hill and New Burnside in Johnson County; Stonefort in Williamson and Saline counties; and Carrier Mills and Harrisburg in Saline County. Each has parking areas from which hikers, runners and cyclists can access the trail.

In addition to the large communities, there also are hamlets along the trail, including Bloomfield, Sanburn and Ledford. In addition, there are a handful of locations that could be described as ghost towns - Forman, Bender, Rago, Parker City and New Castle.
From the Illinois Dept of Resources page.

Race Info -- Packet Picket Up - Lodging - Course

Packet pick up: Friday November 13. 3pm - 8pm

The Gambit Golf Club banquet room. 1550 State Rt 146 E, Vienna, IL 62995 (just off Exit 16, I-24, on the East side)

Packet pick up: Saturday November 14 6am - 7:30am -- Race site start/finish at the park in Vienna, IL

Lodging: NOTE: There is only one hotel in Vienna and it has been sold out for months. If you are coming from the south you should consider Paducah, KY. Hundreds of motel rooms at Exit 4 (mall exit) and Exit 3. Vienna IL race start is less than 30 minutes from Paducah.
Additional Lodging - Paducah, KY is about 25 miles south (or East via I-24. Exit 4 Paducah has just about every type of motel. If you are coming from the north you may want to check out Marion, IL... about 30 miles from Vienna

Camping: Camping is allowed at the Vienna Park. First Come/First Served as they do not take reservations. Last year we had 325 runners and did not run out of space. Very convenient since the start/finish is here. Lots of places to eat, get groceries, etc within a half mile. Looks like about 16 electric outlets scattered around. Water available through faucets. No sewer hookups. There are about 50 spaces for campers. If you are going to tent camp then there is ample room around the park.

Start: 08:00 central time November 14, 2015 At the Trail Station 305 E Vine St, Vienna, IL.

Course - 100 miles - Course begins at the park in Vienna, and heads south to the Wetlands Center at 13.25 and turn back north to run 25 miles to the north turnaround, and then back 11.75 miles to the start/finish. This gives you 50 miles. Repeat this course for the 100. By repeating the 50 mile course we are giving you the best course, with the most scenery.

Course - 50 miles - runners will begin by running south for 13.25 miles, then turning back to run 25 miles north to the 50 mi turnaround, and back 11.75 miles to the finish.

50 milers will run through the famous tunnel twice, and 100 milers four times.

Time Limits - Both courses have the same 30 hours to finish.

100 milers must begin the second 50 in less than 15 hours.

Pacers - will be allowed the final 24 miles of the 100 mile run. This will start you at the main start/finish and you will run together on the northern section (which includes the tunnel)
Special note on Pacers: If you wish to pace someone for the final 50 miles, you will need to register for the 50 mile. Doing this will allow you to receive the race bling, plus we will give you an official time for your 50 miles. NOTE: Pacers taking this option will not be allowed to win any top finisher's awards, but you will receive the medallion.

Shoes/Gaiters: The running surface is smooth, with a finely crushed limestone layer over a dirt bed. You can wear whichever shoes are most comfortable for you. I recommend you wear gaiters to keep the small rock out of your shoes (especially if it rains, as the rock tends to stick to the bottom of your shoes more.

Temperature Hi/Lo - The average temperatures for Vienna, IL for November 15 is 60/40.

Volunteers: If you would like to volunteer for this race, we'd love to have you for whatever length of time you're available.

Questions? Please don't hesitate to ask me.


100 mile: All entrants will receive a long sleeve tech shirt, a nice bag, and a running cap.
Finishers will receive a very nice custom belt buckle and a nice light weight jacket

50 mile: All entrants will receive a long sleeve tech shirt, and a running cap. Finishers will receive a nice custom belt buckle.

More bling could be given based on number of entrants.

Aid Stations/Drop Bags

Aid Stations will be at mm 5.3, 10.7, 15.7, 21.4, 26.5, 31.5, 35.3, 39.5, 44.9, and 50. Same stations on the 100, (just add 50 miles)

They will be stocked with the usual aid station fare... water, SWORD hydration drink, soda, bananas, oranges, chips, candy, energy snacks, Hammer Gel, and other items. Later in the day boiled potatoes, soup, and coffee will be available.

Very minimal amount of cups will be available... please bring your own water/fluid containers.
PLEASE: CREW MEMBERS SHOULD NOT EAT AID STATION FOOD. IT IS FOR THE RUNNERS. Please support local businesses by purchasing food from them
Porta Johns are available at every aid station. Toilets and running water are available at 10.7, 15.7, 25, 35.3, 39.5, and 50.
Drop bags can be left for the locations where the toilets and running water are available. NOTE: 10.7 & 15.7 are the same location; 35.3 & 39.5 are the same. 25/50 is the start/finish. So, besides the start/finish, there are two additional drop bag locations, that 50 mile runners can access twice each, and 100 mile runners can access four times each.


If you would like to volunteer to help we can use you! Just let me know!


Thanks to current sponsors:
So iLL Racing
West Kentucky Runners Club
River to River Runners Club
S.W.O.R.D. hydration drink
Paducah Bank
Johnson County IL
City of Vienna
Newton Running
Durbin Race Management
For sponsorships opportunities please contact Steve Durbin at

Local time: 11:12 PM


Steve Durbin
Race Director

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