Butts Park – The Furnace, The Meadow and Features

buttspark22miler I ran 22.43 miles on the Butts Park trail this morning, training for the Big Butts 50K on July 27th. You can see what the course looks like in the picture. The interstate in the upper right corner is I-20 near Clinton, MS. Here’s some information about the course.

There are two single track courses. One is billed as the 6 mile loop and the other as the 3 mile loop. The 6 mile loops is marked by orange signs with black arrows while the 3 mile loop is marked by yellow signs with black arrows. I have never run the 3 mile loop, but I have now made it around the 6 mile loop 7 times, 3 times last Saturday and 4 times today. I can tell you quite a bit about the 6 mile loop.

1. Distance – It’s not 6 miles long. Probably more like 5.6 miles.

2. Technical – It’s not a highly technical track, flat by trail standards, but there are some “features”. When I ran it today, on one of my loops I counted the number of times I had to go up or down a significant incline or decline, or the number of times I had to pick my way around an obstacle or a rooty section. I counted 61 such events. That’s nearly 11 per mile traveled. There are a lot in the first two miles and the last mile or so.

3. “The Furnace” – Hey, it’s hot in July in Mississippi. I was out there from 9am to 1pm today “getting used” to the heat. On the photo inset, you see the long, straight sections that look like wide highways. Those are where the electrical high lines run. You come out of the canopy of the woods under the high lines four times during the 6 mile loop. I call those spots, where you leave the woods and experience the foot force of the sun beating on you, “the furnace”. Two of the four are pretty short stints. The longest is the last one in the loop. Today on the second loop I was dreading the 4th trip in to the furnace, but by the fourth and final loop, I was looking forward to it because I knew this meant I was close to done.

4. Favorite part – Mile 2 to 4. This section is through the more heavily canopied part of the course and it’s just cooler and darker. There’s one particular point where there is a thinly wooded meadow with long green grass and it’s just fun to run through there.

Summary of today’s run….bleh! It was rough but I was really happy with the overall experience. I ran the Watermelon Classic 5K yesterday in 20:01. I knew I had taxed my legs, but I did not realize how tired they would still be when I got started this morning. I just never felt good. Early on my pace was about 9 to 9:15 but I slowed a lot as the run wore on. It was about 85 degrees at the start.

Shoes – Saucony Kinvara (not the trail version). Did not change socks and ended up with only two small blisters.

Food and Drink
Lap 1 – Drank a bottle of water and ate some gel and took off.
Lap 2 – Carried a bottle of half water, half sports drink and ate some gel about half way through the lap. Drank the entire bottle on the lap.
Lap 3 – Ate a red potato and a plum and carried a bottle of half water, half sports drink and ate some gel about half way through the lap. Drank the entire bottle on the lap.
Lap 4 – Ate half a banana and a snack bar. Carried a bottle of sports drink and drank the entire bottle on the lap. Ate gel half way through the lap.

I was really struggling at the end of the 3rd lap, but then clouds rolled in and it started to rain which cooled things off. I was glad for the rain for more than the temps. This also gave me a chance to see how much the course is affected by rain in the event it rains on race day. There were a few spots that got slick pretty quickly which may mean I change shoes if I am running in racing flats. This was my first time to eat a boiled potato on a run and I had been worried about whether or not this would be easy to eat. It was very east to eat, went right down in two bites. I should have salted it. On race day, salty red potatoes will be in my food plan.

After really slowing down a lot from miles 18-20 (11 minute pace), the cooler temps and some of the food I had eaten probably started to kick in and I ran much more quickly the last 2 miles (9:30 pace). Overall I ran 22.4 miles in 3:50 for an average 10:21 pace. My goal is to finish the Big Butts 50k (which will probably measure out the 29 miles, not 31 miles) in under 5 hours which means I’ll be shooting for an average 10 minute pace with not a lot of time at aid stations.

Here’s my packing list for the long run today.


  • goo

  • red potato

  • snack bar

  • banana

  • salt


  • two full hand held bottles

  • two 1 qt bottles of  sports drink


  • cooler

  • phone arm band

  • phone

  • wallet

  • hand towel

  • bath towel

  • Sunglasses


  • two extra pair of socks

  • extra pair of shoes

  • hat

  • underwear

  • shorts

  • shirt


  • Vaseline (for chafing)

  • Rubbing Alcohol (for cleaning off poison ivy oil if need be)

  • Toilet Paper