Race the Chase 50k, UltraMarathon, Marathon, Run, Race, Train


My Running Adventures e-mail brings in some interesting and surprising material. There are the running questions, the lost fortunes of my dear relatives, lost friends, and people just wanting to give me money and then offers for me to come run a new race.

Say What?

I get to run the Race the Chase 50k in Cottonwood, Falls KS.  Stop the presses and get my credit card numbers back from that nice guy in Nigeria! Toto, I’m going to Kansas!

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Race the Chase, the Midwest’s premiere off-road endurance running event! Founded in 2014 by Dirty Kanza Promotions, this run gives you an unprecedented opportunity to experience some of the most beautiful, remote, and rugged off road running in the Midwest. Starting and finishing in historic Cottonwood Falls, KS, Race the Chase takes you through the Tallgrass National Preserve in Chase County.

Race Director LeLan Dains is providing me a great opportunity to experience this wonderful running location, terrain and new race and I can’t wait to get to the land of the big Buffalos and run this event. Since this is such a new event, I wanted to give my readers and inside view.

Please tell my readers a little about yourself and the organization that is conducting the race.

LeLan Dains – I’ve been the Operations Manager for DK Promotions for 2 years. Prior to that I worked for Carmichael Training Systems (Chris Carmichael, my former boss, was Lance Armstrong’s coach) as the Camp Director. I led cycling trips and tours all over the world. Dirty Kanza Promotions is a world class promoting group that got its start in cycling events, most notably the Dirty Kanza 200. Now in it’s 10th year, The Dirty Kanza 200 draws nearly 2,000 cyclists from all over the world.       

I see the Race The Chase is in its second year, how did the inaugural race come about?

The Dirty Kanza 200 has shown the world that the Midwest is indeed a world class venue for endurance sporting events. Kansas is remote, it is rugged, it is beautiful, and it is most assuredly not flat! Race the Chase was born out of a desire to provide runner’s with a similar challenge in these same wonderful Flint Hills.

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Not flat great (Note to self…start hill training) How would you characterize the course?

The course is unlike any other. Part of what makes the Dirty Kanza 200 and Race the Chase so special is that they take place in the Flint Hills. Race the Chase specifically begins and ends in historic Cottonwood Falls, KS and takes participants largely on the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, which is the only remaining tract of natural Tallgrass Prairie in North America. You really get a sense of traveling back in time. This place is the same today as it has been for hundreds of years. And once again, it truly is beautiful. It is a unique landscape that cannot be found elsewhere. Not to mention you could catch sightings of the resident bison herd. Simply put, don’t let the general perception of Kansas fool you. This isn’t the black and white landscape you think of from the Wizard of Oz.

Great, bison but no flying monkeys…

Who large/active is the running community around Cottonwood Falls, KS?

The running community is growing. I think it’s really exciting to be in an area where outdoor recreation like this has not been the norm. The Plains State’s have a tendency to stick to traditional sports and not realize that we have an amazing landscape for all kinds of activities. What we have seen with cycling in this region is spilling over to the runners. If you can enjoy riding a bike out there you can sure as heck have fun running. It is fun to travel to different cities and pound the pavement for a traditional marathon. But, it’s a whole new world to get off the concrete and explore with nothing other than your own two feet. What a way to see this wonderful world!

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I agree this land we live in has so much to offer and yet we see/get to experience so little of it.

Each race has its one signature challenge i.e. Heartbreak Hill at Boston, climbing Hope Pass at Leadville, what is this races signature obstacle?

I’m not sure we’ve identified a single standout obstacle. Our course utilizes many different trails on the Preserve, so there are fun sections like, “Crusher Hill Loop” and the “Scenic Overlook Trail.” But, my personal favorite is probably the “Prairie Fire Loop.” It might not feature the biggest climb of the day, but it offers up the best views in my opinion! Our runners have more than just that one iconic feature, but rather they have an entire course that offers up many challenges and views worth looking forward to. From Bison and stone barns, to an endless sea of green grass there is no shortage of lasting impressions.

And yes, hills….plenty of them!

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What was one memorable event from the first running of Race the Chase?

No matter what the discipline, for us as promoters, there is one thing that stands out in the endurance challenges we promote. And that is watching each finisher come across the line and seeing the suffering, the hurt, the satisfaction and the joy on their faces. The first running of Race the Chase was no different. 

Outstanding, witnessing people live out their dreams and over common perceived limits is a victory for them and the people who conduct and host these events, so Thank you!.

What is the one thing someone coming to run this race should be ready for?

I suppose folks need to realize that this is an off-road “endurance” running event. You’ll have a little bit of pavement leaving and returning to town, but for the most part you are off the beaten path. You’ll be running through prairie, double track, single track, jumping cow patties, and dodging that ever so wonderful Flint rock that gives this region its name. You are basically pioneering it out there (with slightly better footwear)! We aim to challenge folks. We want people to get uncomfortable, because it is only when we come out of those lowest moments that we find that something in ourselves that we were looking for by doing these types of challenges in the first place.

Jumping cow patties….that we be a first and a challenge I’m looking forward too.

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Race the Chase offers four different distances for runners of varying abilities to test their mettle on the unforgiving prairie, 50k, 25k, 10k, and an introductory, non-competitive 5k. No matter which distance you choose to attempt, you are guaranteed to have a good time! So lace up your running shoes, get to training, and we will see you in Chase County! Come on out and run with me!