This page provides some information and background on the race, and why it is the way it is. There is no particular order here – just random information ;-).
Why is the race field limited to 60 runners?
The park management is sensitive to the impact human beings have on the park, since much of the park ‘s land is primeval old-growth original Florida forest. A small but vocal group of people strongly believe that there should be NO human activity inside the park, but thus far the majority have won out with limited access to park land.
In its early years, Ancient Oaks was limited to 20 to 25 runners – each of the five years current Race Director Mike Melton ran the race, there were no more than 22 starters. Since becoming RD six years ago, Mike has worked diligently with park management to increase the size of the field to the present 60-runner cap.
Although Mike is in favor of increasing the size of the field, at present there are NO plans to do so.
Why is the race ‘Invitation Only’?
When race founder Stu Gleman began the race in 1999, he wanted to know who would be running, and he wanted some background on each person so he could judge whether or not that person had enough running experience, and whether or not that person was self-sufficient enough to run a race that provided little or no support. So one of his requirements was that each runner call him personally, so that Stu could do a short interview with that person.
When Mike Melton took over as Race Director in 2009, he wanted to keep the spirit of the race true to Stu’s vision, so the Invitation Only aspect was instituted.
Why don’t you charge a fee for entry?
For a couple of reasons. First, the reason the park allows the race within its borders at all is that there is NO profit motive or entry fee collected. The park is very sensitive about someone or some organization profiting at the expense of the park.
Second, race founder Stu Gleman began the race as a ‘fat-ass’ style event, which is a no-fee, no-swag, no-aid, and no-whining style of race management. Current RD Mike Melton chose to maintain Stu’s vision in this aspect.
Finally, if there were an entry fee, then RD Mike Melton would feel compelled to have to accept the entry of any d*%kwad who paid the entry fee. Without the entry fee, the Invitation Only status of the race allows for better control of the field of runners allowed into the race.
Why isn’t there a belt buckle for finishers, like at other 100-mile races?
From its inception, Ancient Oaks was a fat-ass style event, in the ‘old-skool’ tradition of ultrarunning. Old-skool means that the race is run for its own merits, and not to earn some swag or bling. Fat-ass style events stressed a minimalistic style, with no fees, no swag, no aid, and no awards.
Current RD Mike Melton prefers to hew to these roots, and there are plenty of other ultras that are swimming in bling and covered in swag, so if you’re looking for buckles, swag and bling you’d best sign up for one of those events ;-).
Is there camping allowed in the park? Can I bring an RV or a tent?
The park does NOT allow camping of any kind within its boundaries. Any vehicle used by a runner needs to fit into a standard parking space. No camping tents are permitted, and any tent larger than a 10×10 popup shade canopy is strongly discouraged. When in doubt, ask RD Mike Melton for clarification.
Will there be any aid or support offered?
Each year, the race offers a bit more aid and support, thanks to the hard work of a stupendous group of volunteers. HOWEVER, you should plan on there being NO aid other than water. This means that if you’re expecting a fat-free, fair-trade, no-kill, locally produced organic soy chai latte with almond-butter whipped cream, you’d better bring it with you when you come ;-). The same with the butler, the concierge, the maid and the masseuse – if you expect them, you’d best be bringing them ;-).