HAMILTON COUNTY — The Wakely Dam Ultra Marathon will set out from Piseco Lake in the Adirondacks at 6:30 a.m. July 29.
The approximately 35-mile race is limited to 65 runners. Registration is full, though people wishing to race can be added to a waiting list by visiting ultrasignup.com and searching for “Wakely Dam.”
What makes the Wakely Dam Ultra different from other ultramarathons is that it’s completely unsupported, which means there are no aid stations. Runners must complete the entire race — it follows the rugged Northville Placid Trail — unassisted.
The trail, which runs from Piseco Lake to the Wakely Dam, includes 7,381 feet of elevation change. Runners must supply their own water, which means portable water purification methods are necessary.
As there are no crossroads along the length of the trail, there are only three ways out:
- Finish the race.
- Go back to the starting line.
- Get rescued by a helicopter.
Saratoga Springs resident Hugh Davis, who participated in the ultra in 2014 and 2015, said he likes the Wakely Dam Ultra because “there’s something about the race that attracts people of a less competitive nature. … It’s more about the experience than the results.”
Davis trains for the race the way he would train for a marathon — with a combination of speed work and long runs.
According to Davis, about half the runners each year are from the Capital Region or the Adirondacks, while the other half come from out of the area.
The $85 registration fee includes a Wakely Dam race shirt, a pre-race pasta dinner, a post-race cookout and transportation from Piseco Airport to the starting line. The night before the race, the runners camp together in Piseco and gather at 4:30 a.m. for a bus to the starting line.
“It’s a very unique race and a great group of people who participate,” Davis said.