Trail Running in Texas & beyond

Rocky Raccoon 100 Pace Chart Analysis


A few friends asked me their opinion of their goals at RR100 and a sample pace chart.  I’ve done some looking at RR100 splits in the past and I love a running the numbers so I was happy to oblige.  In looking at the numbers previously there were clearly some trends.  Sadly, time will prevent me from going in depth but what follows is a general overview and I hope is useful to some Raccoons.

About the numbers

I decided to look at 20 hour to 24 hour finishes. That worked out to 338 records.  I didn’t use all the years since due to formatting it would have meant additional data scrubbing but it covers about 5 different years and a wide range of conditions.

I choose those finishing times because there are many people shooting for sub-24 and faster than 20 hours, well, those runners have enough advantages and can figure it out on their own 🙂

Included is each loop split and the variance from loop to loop both in minutes & as a percentage. Loop to loop variances are color coded so that it is easier to see patterns or significant jumps within the data set.

Color code legend:

  • blue = negative split
  • green = less than 30 minutes slower than the prior split / less than 10% slower
  • yellow = 30 to 45 minute slower than prior split / between 10% and 15% slower
  • orange = 45 to 60 minute slower than prior split / between 15% and 25% slower
  • red = 1 hour slower than prior split / greater than 25%

Download PDF of Raw Data:  RR100Split-20h to 24h

Some assumptions

The basic assumption is that a race run closer to even splits is more efficient race and therefore closer to the potential of that runner.  Research and studies of elites tend to run even or negative split races and that many PR / PB races closer follow the same pattern for distances ranging from 5k to marathon. However, ultra race, especially at 100 miles is a bit different and even all time great races out there show slow down in the later stages.  Additional complications are than most ultras are either not loops are long loops so we don’t get the granulator details we see with marathon or track running.

However, even still, looking at some of the best performances still show less variance on a per split.  For example, look at Zach Bitter’s track efforts or Max King at the 100k world champions to name but a few. Ian Sharman’s classic RR100 run  in 2011 had splits of:

  • Loop 1 – 2h 29m
  • Loop 2 – 2h 25m
  • Loop 3 – 2h-29m
  • Loop 4 – 2h 35m
  • Loop 5 – 2h 46m

What do the numbers show?

Well, that is up to you, for now to dig into the details.  I’d like to spend more time with the data and add back in age and gender to see what additional patterns emerge.  But on first glance, the patterns are I see are:

  • Most runners go out too fast and then hit a wall.  We all know that but …
    1. Runners chasing 24 hours tend slow down greatly on loop 3 & 4 and then bounce back with a stronger loop 5 (likely motivated by getting in under 24 hours).
    2. Runners in 21-23 hour bracket tend to run 3 great loops, then hit a massive wall. While often their Loop 5 looks good in terms of variance, loop 4 is a sea of orange with many runners being 90 minutes to 2 hours slower than their first loop for 4 and 5.

I bolded what I consider ‘good’ runs. Basically, runs that are all green for each loop or with only a single yellow loop.

Pace Chart

Based on the numbers, here is sample pace chart.  I suggest starting with this and then look at the numbers for yourself to fine-tune your own.

The simple strategy is try to stay within 10-20 minutes of the prior loop.  Ideally, you’d run very even splits but based on the history shown here, it seems unlikely that will happen, so these represent realistic splits given most people’s tendencies.  If you are great at even splits, someone like Ian Sharman or Thomas Orf, then stick to those, you’ll be better for it. Most of these charts factor in the loop 4 slow down that repeats over and over in the numbers.

  Loop 1 Loop 2 Loop 3 Loop 4 Loop 5


3h 30m

3h 45m


4h 15m

4h 30m


3h 35m

3h 50m

4h 10m

4h 35m

4h 50m


3h 50m

4h 5m

4h 20m

4h 45m




4h 15m

4h 35m


5h 10m


4h 10m

4h 25m

4h 45m

5h 15m

5h 30m

Tips on RR100

There isn’t anything new here but as someone who has organized the aid stations at RR100 and paced runners out there here are few things I’ve seen over and over.

  1. Too much time spent at aid stations.  With some many aid stations, you lose a ton of time if you stop at each one. If you plan on running very light and using the aid station food, the grab and go, don’t stop.  Even the longest aid station break should be less than a couple minutes but for most you to grab and go as quick as possible. Even if you use the aid station as a running break, a walking break is better for you on several fronts as you save time and won’t tighten up.
  2. The danger of Start/Finish.  Start / Finish is where your crew is at, your friends, a chair, your car, all of it.  Unless you have a medical issue, time will slip away at the biggest and busiest aid stations. Personally, I also find all those people including my crew throw me out of the mental zone. If you do need to get something from your bag at Start / Finish, make your plans before you get there, get it as fast as possible and walk out. 
  3. Don’t change your shoes unless you have to.  This is a huge time sink and often not as necessary as people convince themselves it is.  Take care of your feet before the race.  However, if something is causing problems, deal with it early because it will be faster to fix early and keep you running than having to deal with it once reaches the critical stage.
  4. Know the weather.  Every year people get caught out because they don’t realize how fast it cools down once the sun goes down. 

Comments are closed.