In 2017, Tug Valley Road Runners Club President Alexis Batausa participated in a 50K race in Georgia and he knew he wanted to bring something like that back to Williamson. This is where the Conquer the Wall Endurance Challenge was born.
What is Conquer the Wall?
This race offers a 45-hour or 37- hour challenge. Teams of 2 or 3 racers per group will have an ankle bracelet to wear to record their laps. Participants will be doing continuous laps on a 2.05-mile course around the West Williamson flood wall and down Armory Road. At the end of the weekend, the team with the most mileage will be awarded with 1st through 3rd place awards. According to Alexis, some participants will be chasing marathon distances all the way up to 100+ miles!
“Back in 2017, when I participated in the 50K in Georgia, I knew the race director there, Adamy Diaz-Carpenter. We discussed the possibility of hosting something like this in Williamson. With only a few months to plan, I worked with a fellow runner here, Tim Caudill, and Adamy and pitched the idea to the TVRRC. In March 2018, on Daylight Savings Weekend we hosted our inaugural Conquer the Wall Endurance Challenge,” remembers Alexis.
In 2018, the challenge only offered the 35-hour challenge. Alexis recalls 22 people participated and of those 22, they put in 30 to 100 miles each. He notes he believes this was the first time in West Virginia a continuous race was held.
Alexis says, “In 2018, Brad Compton, George Wannop, Barney Riesbeck, and Glenda n each hit over 100 miles. History was made, and a new tradition was started!”
In 2019, the club added the 47-hour challenge option. Nearly 70 people participated, and 28 people completed over 100 miles.
For 2020, the number of participants continues to increase. Currently, 101 people from 20 different states and 2 countries, Brazil and Canada, have signed up. Alexis is happy to see so many people from other areas coming to complete this race, but he’s especially happy to see more locals signing up to challenge themselves.
“I’m ecstatic to see everyone participate and to see the end results. This race means so much to our community and it means a lot to me to get the race going,” Alexis says.
The Community Takes the Challenge
To host a race of this type, a lot of work happens to make sure people are safe, cared for in any emergency situations, have a place to rest, and feel at home. This year the TVRRC is working with Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College to open the former National Guard Armory Building to participants. Inside, they will have access to the kitchen and showers with cots offered for a small fee. Williamson Parks and Recreation will have the Williamson Community Center open to participants for kitchen and shower access, as well as an area for primitive camping at a small fee. Race volunteers will be operating fully stocked aid stations to assist with the runners’ needs.
“This year will be huge, and we cannot wait! We definitely want to thank everyone involved. Our volunteers, lap counters, timer, cooks, behind the scenes crew, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, and Williamson Parks and Recreation. We also want to say thank you to the residents of West Williamson for cooperating with us each year,” adds Alexis.
While we can’t see the future to tell you final mileage counts or how many more register, we can give you our opinion of what the results will be. After talking with Alexis and hearing how much he loved this unique race, our prediction is Conquer the Wall 2020 will be a great success!
Alexis is not only the race director, but he will be participating in the challenge this year. We wish him, along with all the participants, and volunteers the best of luck this year!
The Challenge begins on Friday, March 6th. To get all the details on registration, additional area accommodations, and how the race works go to the Conquer the Wall Endurance Challenge event page.
Also, to see the race results and how many participants hit 100+ miles, follow the Tug Valley Road Runners Facebook page.