The Wild Oak Trail – TWOT 100
By Neisa Condemaita and Andrew Arbuckle
This ultra of about 112 miles is held in the George Washington National Forest. One of the most pure trail ultras on the East Coast of USA. Founded in 1988 by Dennis Herr, with a motto of «prepare to die». Current race director is Antoinette Landragin, also the source of all the photos. Due to the technical terrain and positive elevation gain (30,000ft), this race has maintained a low percentage of finishers.
Wild Oak 100 turns 30 this year in 2018. There is no registration, no support except for the camp at the end of each loop. Runners have the choice to do 1, 2, 3 or 4 loops. The goal is to complete it. Each loop is «25 miles», but likely closer to 28. Each runner has to self navigate the trail’s blazes, there are no course markings. This race becomes tough as runners are alone and unsupported for the entire loop.
There are no aid stations, no volunteers, no spectators and no transport back to the start/finish in case of DNF. Runners must be aware that they alone are responsible for their own safety.
John Kelly and Kathleen Cusick were this year’s winners of TWOT. John Kelly broke his own record of 26:35 (2017) and made a new mark of 23:48. Kathleen Cusick was the first female and second overall in 32:30.
It was the first year that two finishers of the famed Barkley Marathons finished TWOT. John Kelly and John Fegyveresi, who finished in 38:43.
Winners receive homemade apple sauce. Running TWOT isn’t for fame, nor for money. Simply to test the limits of the mind and body. This is a spirit that few ultras still maintain.