This Event Took Place Sat. Nov 14, 2015

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 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.

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).

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 trail (ranging in width from 40 to 200 feet) features ever-changing vistas, from lush wetlands including an ancient Cypress-tupelo swamp, abundant wildlife, picturesque trestles ranging from 34 to 450 feet, and incredible rock formations.

Elevation ranges from 340 feet at Karnak on the southern end, to the highest point at Tunnel Hill at 680 feet, giving the trail a gentle 2% grade.

The main attraction is the iconic tunnel. Once over 800’ long, before a portion collapsed in 1929 leaving 543 feet of thrills and chllls.

For much more information on Tunnel Hill State Trail, please visit the Illinois Dept of Resources page.

Race Info -- Packet Picket Up - Lodging - Course

Packet pick up: Friday November 13. 4pm - 8pm at
Vienna High School. 601 N. 1st Street, (US 45N) Vienna, IL 62995
(Exit 16, I-24, go West on Rte 146 1.1 miles and right on US 45 N (N. 1st Street, about ½ mile on left)

Pre-race dinner: a great pasta dinner will be hosted at Vienna High School from 6pm - 7:30pm courtesy of Johnson County Chamber of Commerce. No Charge to runners! Crew and other family members may purchase dinner for $12. Pay at the door. Runners will be given a tickt to use for their meal.

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

RACE STARTS AT 08:00 Central time at Vienna Park

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: We don't believe you will need a pacer on this course. Your crew can see you every 5 miles or so. Plus there are hundreds of others running along the same trail, coming and going. If you think you need someone, pacers are allowed after dark.
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: 5:04 PM


Steve Durbin
Race Director

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