Labor Day Weekend of 2020, ultramarathoners will once again descend on Fred Deadman Park in Manchester, Tennessee. Led by a contingent of wheezing geezers, a couple of hundred of America’s finest footwarriors will circle the famed Deadman Mile for days on end, culminating in the grand finish and banquet at noon on Labor Day Monday. All awards will be handed out at the banquet, including lifetime mile pins (100, 200, 500 and 1000) and the 100 (200) mile buckles. We will not be trying to process that during the event. If you want to come, run part of the race and go home, that is your prerogative. But we will not be processing the final results (nor giving out awards) until the race is over.
All runners 41 and over will be allotted a number of hours equal to those hard-earned years of age in which to accumulate as many miles as possible. All the kids, 40 years, and below, will compete over the final 40 hours of the race. The winner will be the runner with the most miles accumulated by the finish. In contrast to most ultras, where the old guys must settle for a place at the rear, if they can make the time limit at all, the ARFTA is dominated by the super veterans of the sport. In 2019, 34 participants 70 years old and over completed over 100 miles and 1 participant ,74 years old completed 230 miles! This is one race where the older guys are right in the running up until the very end. The footspeed may have diminished with the passing of the years, but the fires of competition still burn bright.
Of course it is not the competition which has made this event an instant classic. It is the stories. In the perfect setting of a one mile loop through the park, today’s ultrarunners have the opportunity to spend time with the legends and heroes of the long ago past of the sport. And the old guys and gals have the opportunity to rekindle old friendships (and rivalries) and to rehash the old days. The stories they have to tell are not tales immortalized on the internet, instead they exist only in the memories of those who were there. For all the hundreds of miles that are logged, and the fierce battles sometimes waged for position, it is the celebration of life atmosphere that has made the ARFTA a must-do event. Fathers and mothers sharing miles with daughters and sons as well as grandparents sharing miles with grandsons and granddaughters; these are moments too special to miss.
We rent the entire park for the duration of the event, and among the features of the race are: Hot meals served every 6 hours (this is not aid station food, but fine southern cuisine catered by the local Cracker Barrel.) Vegetarian and regular options are available, and additional meal plans may be purchased for crew members. Ample food is provided so that a mealtime rush is not necessary, hot food should be available at any time you wish to eat, the selection just changes every 6 hours. Real indoor bathrooms located at several places on the course (the value of which cannot be overstated in a multiday run!)
Accommodations are available at a full range of motels within 1 mile of the park, for crews, or runners wishing to sleep in a “real bed.” Ample camping is available on site, with prime camping spots situated around the Deadman Mile. There are a limited number of 4’ by 8’ “cot spaces” inside the air conditioned Ada Wright building. These are allocated by age, with runners allowed to claim a spot 1 hour before their scheduled start. We have some sleeping pads available, but the most comfortable setup is to bring your own cot. (If you are under 60, it is uncertain that any of these spaces will remain available by the time your age group joins the race.)
There is a facebook group for the ARFTA: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1443235495936999/
Or you can send your questions below.
Any runners over 70 years of age with financial limitations precluding their entry should e-mail me, so that we can work something out. This is your day(s) in the sun, and we want to see you here! Last year we had 43 starters the age of 70 and older. 34 of them logged in excess of 100 miles!! However, you do not need to aim for such a lofty goal, if you do not wish. It is perfectly all right to just come to share the weekend with your peers. What we most want is to see you here.