Rim To River 100 Recap

100 miles through the New River Gorge sounds easy, right? For most of us, we would prefer those miles to be spent in a car, but on November 7, 200 participants set out on the Rim to River 100. From falling leaves and mountain trails to abandoned towns and a clear night sky, runners got to experience the best of the Gorge at West Virginia’s first and only 100-mile race.  

For race organizer, Bryant Baker, it was a decade-long dream that finally came to fruition. 

“I’ve always been super passionate about trail running and love the Gorge landscape,” Baker said. “I’ve been a river guide for 20 years, and this is just another way to share the Gorge with folks.” 

The Rim to River endurance race began and ended at ACE Adventure Resort. From the resort, runners traveled through Thurmond and Cunard to Fayette Station and Ansted. The trail consisted of winding single track and rail-to-trail paths from the rim of the Gorge to down along the New River. Runners got to experience phenomenal views of waterfalls and whitewater, as well as ghost towns, cemeteries and abandoned mine shafts.  

Runners had 32 hours to complete the course, with the average finish time being 20 to 25 hours.

“People may be impressed by me finishing in 18 hours and 23 minutes, but those that ran 20 plus hours are the true heroes,” Caleb Bowen, the male first place winner, said. 

During the 100 miles through the Gorge, emotions ran high for most competitors. Bowen had the pleasure of not only winning the race, but being able to witness his training partner and best friend, HollyAnn finish the race after overcoming a knee injury. He also got to watch his father complete the course after defeating temporary cortical blindness. 

The female first place winner, Whitney Richamn, had a finishing time of 22 hours and 41 minutes. Richamn has a past with 50k and 50 mile trail races but had never ran a 100 mile race until Rim to River. 

“I wasn’t sure if I was running the race until 5 weeks before it, so I had to cram in specific hill training quickly,” Richamn said. “I was already running 80 to 100 miles per week, but I needed to strengthen my quads for the downhills and climbing.”

The initial planning for this inaugural race began over a year before the race day, but like many events this year, aspects of the race needed to pivot in order to follow safety guidelines. Luckily, social distancing does not mean staying indoors in the New River Gorge.

“Instead of a mass start, we had ten different waves to spread people apart. So, 20 runners were spaced apart by 15 minutes,” Baker said. “We also had temperature checks, and everyone had to wear a face-covering at the aid stations and at the start and finish lines.” 

The etiquette at the aid stations, located in spots throughout the Gorge like Long Point and Fayette Station, saw some changes as well. To minimize contact, runners were provided menus and the volunteers at the station could grab what they needed. 

The race had numerous sponsors from local businesses and the proceeds from this race will help to fund Adventure Appalachia, a non-profit working to facilitate educational outdoor adventure experiences for adolescents and adults in the area. 

Interested in participating in the Rim to River 100 next year? Plan to train for the physical and mental obstacles you may face. 

“I believe the biggest benefit was the mental planning prior to the race,” Bowen said. “I was able to work with my training partner, her husband and our crew chief in knowing the layout of the course and getting a decent idea of what it was going to look like.” 

In terms of physical conditioning, Bowen planned a good string of 20-plus mile runs throughout the six weeks leading up to the race, with his longest run being 25 miles.

The organizers have every intention of making this an annual event, and are currently working on the permits with the National Park Service for 2021. Check the Rim to River Facebook page for upcoming registration details and race information.