Some Boogie runners ‘don’t have a clue what they’re up against’


By Kevin Spradlin

Video from 2008
* One runner’s 2013 race report

There are 120 runners registered for the 20th annual Bethel Moonlight Boogie 50-miler that begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at Bethel Baptist Church, located on the outskirts of Ellerbe.

Photo submitted by Steve Perkins of the 2013 Boogie race.

Photo submitted by Steve Perkins of the 2013 Boogie race.

Brandon Wilson, an ultra runner and newly appointed first-year administrative director for the five-loop footrace, said there are generally three groups of people who will toe the start line.

“I’m going to say that, for at least half the field, they’re there for the camaraderie and history of the event,” Wilson said, and are familiar with the host group Mangum Track Club in general and the Boogie race in particular.

“For another large portion of the crowd, it’s for the challenge” of completing a five-loop, all-asphalt footrace in the midst of unrelenting heat and and oppressive, breath-taking humidity. Then there’s Group C.

“And for an extremely small portion … they honestly don’t have a clue of what they’re up against,” Wilson said. “They’ve never really run an ultra. They probably couldn’t differentiate from one (ultra) vs. the next. Maybe they stumbled across the website” and the idea to enter seemed like a good idea at the time.

“In reality, it’ll probably be a lot more than they can handle, and they probably don’t even know that yet,” Wilson said. “They will quickly figure that out tomorrow.”

The course for everyone will be, Wilson said, “extremely tough. There’s a lot of the sleep deprivation that goes with starting at 6 o’clock at night (and) the heat and humidity associated with the first lap.”

His advice for newbies: “Start slow.”

Click here for interactive (but unofficial) course map.

Click here for interactive (but unofficial) course map.

The overwhelming majority of the field, regardless of pre-race goals, will do just that. The field is comprised of 120 runners, including 86 men and 34 women from seven states — North and South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Georgia, Texas and Wisconsin. Entrants’ ages range from 22 to 70, and feature A — Amy Albritton (Kinston) and Abagail Bartman (Wilmington) to, well, Y if not Z in Ulysses Otero (Fayetteville) and Toshi Yamamoto (Raleigh).

Seventy runners in the field — 58.3 percent — are Mangum Track Club members. The only way you obtain MTC membership is to complete a club-organized shirt run organized a few times each year, and the shirt run is run on a small portion of the roads runners will attempt to conquer Saturday night into early Sunday morning.

And “attempt” might be the best possible word. Each 10-mile circuit consists of an 6-mile loop and a 2-mile out-and-back portion that, arguably, is the most difficult portion of the race — each of the five times it must be run. That’s because that from miles 8.8 to 10 (and to 20, 30, 40 and 50) includes a significant, momentum-busting incline that can wear down the most experienced runners. Even worse, maybe, is that runners have to cross the finish line (as a check-in point) four times before reaching it for the fifth and final time — that is, the one that counts.

Doug Dawkins, veteran race director, said that “very little is new” for this year’s 20th running — and that’s just the way MTCers like it.

“I don’t even change the shirts except for the date,” Dawkins said. “It’s very consistently, old-style running. It’s not like running (at) Disney World.”

Though volunteers staff aid stations along the course, Boogie runners are largely “a self-sufficient group.”


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