Conservation // 9 min Read

How to Prepare for the Buffalo Run

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Apr 04, 2016

By Dylan Sell

Swap your pumpkin spice latte for a water bottle, lace up your running shoes, and start training for Palmetto Bluff’s second annual Buffalo Run on Sunday, October 11th. For one glorious fall day, running enthusiasts can experience the beauty and serenity of Palmetto Bluff’s undisturbed wildlife on a trail that winds throughout the sprawling 20,000-acre property.

We caught up with some of our Buffalo Run fans and asked them how they are preparing; since the race offers 10K, 30K and 50K options, runners of all types have a chance to get in on the fun. From purchasing quality socks to eating goo, our running experts have all the tips to run your best race yet. Here’s what they had to say.

Beginner Running Tips from Courtney Hampson

Ah yes, running. My nemesis. And greatest love. Me and running go together like Bogey and Bacall. And oil and water. And ice packs and cortisone shots.

Seven years ago when I saw thirty-five coming down the pike, I decided to get in shape. I started by walking – a lot. Every once in a while I would intersperse some running. Then, I graduated to boot camp, where if I could survive running the “big lap,” which was roughly 600 meters, I considered it a victory. Then I had the crazy idea that I could run a mile straight, and then two, and then three. Who have I become?

Soon, my boot camp buddy lured me to CrossFit and somewhere amidst her deception she also convinced me to run a half marathon with her. Coincidentally, Palmetto Bluff had just announced its inaugural half marathon, and well, since that was my idea, I felt compelled to make that my first race. Since then I have run dozens upon dozens of races, in a handful of states, including four half marathons.

I’m not sure I will ever consider myself a runner. I like to joke that I am more of a lumberer. My pace ranges anywhere from 10:20 to 12:30 minutes a mile. And I am actually ok with that. Once I stopped watching the clock, I actually started to enjoy running. Yet, I still find it mildly hilarious that I am writing running tips. Of course, the fact that I am the editor’s boss may have something to do with that.

The 10k race is really my sweet spot. And by sweet spot I don’t mean I am breaking any records, I simply mean a 10k has never made me want to puke on my sneakers. I feel like even when I am not running regularly I can easily graduate from three miles to six in terms of training.

So, my tips for running go a little something like this.

  1. Eat something. I have a hard time following this rule because eating before exercising (and potentially throwing up on my sneakers) does not appeal to me, especially since most races start so early in the morning. But I have found that a little fuel goes a long way. I’ve made one Eggo waffle my pre-race meal and I do enjoy the little ritual it provides.
  2. Good socks. Spend the money on $10 socks. It is totally worth it.
  3. Likewise, ladies, invest in a good bra. (Yes, I just wrote bra in The Bluff)
  4. Don’t try to keep up with everyone else out of the gate. Sometimes I get all worried that I am going to finish last so I end up pushing myself on the first mile and it rarely ends well. Save the push for the end. Start slow. Find your pace. And your breath.
  5. Consider a run/walk interval. Not only do I consider it, I practice it regularly. I run three minutes and then walk two and still manage to keep a semi-respectable pace. And even when you are compelled to run that whole first mile to keep up, it is ok to walk. I promise.
  6. Find someone who runs just a tad faster than you. I try to identify this person in every race I run, and then I focus on how to catch him or her. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but keeping them in your sights (and vice versa) makes you feel a little less alone out there.
  7. Mix in trail running. I find that when I run on a trail, I focus less on my breathing (which sometimes sounds like hyperventilating) and instead focus on my foot placement, thereby allowing me to move more swiftly and for longer intervals.
  8. Remember, every time you get out there you are moving faster than every person still sitting on their couch.

%GALLERY%Intermediate Running Tips from Mike Beckwith

So you’ve decided to compete in the Buffalo Run – great! This is a great race with lots of challenges, a beautiful course, and winding trails through both woods and flat ground.

To make the most of your experience, it helps to know what to expect and how to prepare. For me, this is an endurance race and I don’t run for speed. As a result, my training is a little different for the 30K race. In fact, this race is in my week 13 of training for the Savannah Rock and Roll Marathon.

  1. My best recommendation is to follow a marathon-training schedule for 13 weeks. Doing so will help you build your miles towards race day and set you up to get a 20-mile training run in prior to the race. To explore some great options for training schedules, visit
  2. Distance is important, but where you train is also important. For the Buffalo Run, make sure you also train on trails. Trail running is different and you should not expect to maintain your normal pace per mile when running on trails.
  3. Expect a variety of surfaces for the Buffalo Run race course, including pavement, packed soil and soft dirt. The terrain through the woods is often rugged with tree roots and even some mud. Be prepared to get a little dirty.
  4. At the start of last year’s race it was a sunny 70 degrees with 100% humidity. If the weather holds for the 2015 race, I’d wear loose, comfortable clothing. Run in an older pair of shoes – choose ones that are comfortable with a wide outsole and heel support. If it rains, be prepared to tough it out.
  5. Hydration is critical and, even though there is water on the course, I highly recommend a water belt, Gatorade, Gu and electrolyte capsules. You will also need to eat – I find Picky Bars to be easy to eat and nutritional.

If you’re headed to the Buffalo Run to participate or cheer someone else on, bring a chair and a shade umbrella. Some runners even bring 10 x 10 tents. Believe me, you will need shade!

Have fun and see you at the start!

Advanced Running Tips from Tim Price

You are thinking of taking on the 50k…congratulations! Even contemplating running 31 miles is more than most people ever dream of. For me, distance running is a passion, obsession, and, honestly, a very large part of my identity. I have completed 23 marathons, a handful of ultras, and hundreds of shorter races in the past six years. Running, especially distance running, is something I love and cannot get enough of.

To successfully run this distance, and this particular race, here are a few guidelines you will want to follow.

  • Start out slow and do not worry about your pace. For those of you used to running on roads, expect to add one and a half to two minutes to your mile pace. Trails are a completely different animal than roads, so do not let this slower pace aggravate you. The soft surface is great for minimizing impact on the body, but that also means more energy is required to maintain a set pace. Last year I averaged a nine-minute mile for the 50k, which is much slower than my normal marathon pace. So slow down, relax and enjoy the ride.
  • Fuel along the way. If you have run an ultra (anything over 26.2 miles) I’m sure you’ve encountered the crazy stuff ultra-runners eat. Many runners bring a wide variety of food such as PB&Js, bacon, candy bars, pretzels, electrolyte drinks, pizza, coffee, nuts, water (of course), energy gels, chips, and one of my staples – beer (preferably an IPA). Even though a 50k is only five miles longer than a marathon, it is much more physically taxing. I recommend hydrating and eating at least a couple bites every lap. Try snacking on a few different things on some training runs to see what you like and what works for you. Also, there are all sorts of hydration tools such as backpacks, waist packs, and handheld bottles to use too, so stop by your local running specialty store to pick someone’s brain about best practices.
  • Get used to the heat. This run is October 11th and we all know it is hot in the Lowcountry until December. Do some of your longer training runs in hotter conditions to get yourself mentally and physically prepared. One thing that might help is to wear a hat or bandana that you can put ice in and, during the race, replenish your ice every lap.
  • Get used to sand. About a mile of each loop of the Buffalo Run is run on a soft dirt road – and in the Lowcountry, soft dirt means sand. This section is tough. If you are able, I’d recommend doing some beach runs in the softer sand to get used to the feel and amount of energy needed to move on this surface. This section is also a good place to consider doing some walking. I have walked in every ultra I have done, two of which I have won. It’s not a sign of weakness: it is actually a smart thing to do and it allows your body to recover slightly, giving you a boost later on.
  • Have fun. This is by far the most important thing. We are all racing because we enjoy it – do not let it become something you dread or resent. Even if your race doesn’t go as planned, just relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the fact that you have the strength and ability to complete a 31-mile race! That is a huge accomplishment and is something that should be enjoyed.

So whether this is your first, fifth, or 50th race, remember what you love about running, get yourself mentally and physically prepared, hydrate/fuel along the way, and, of course, have a great time out there!

I will see you all nice and early on October 11th for another go at the Buffalo Run 50k!

An Endurance Experience

As a part of Palmetto Bluff’s Endurance Running Series, the Buffalo Run is designed to test the strength of longer distance runners with three race course options: 10K (a single lap of the course), 30K (three laps) and, the ultimate endurance run, 50K (five laps). The race is a trail run with only the first 100 meters being on asphalt – most of the course is sandy paths and gravel roads navigating through the towering pines and ancient maritime forests of Palmetto Bluff.

For a Good Cause

All participants registering before October 4th will receive a t-shirt and participants in the 30K and 50K races will also receive baseball caps. Male and female winners of each race will receive trophies. But entry fees do more than just pay for t-shirts, hats, and awards: portions of all registration monies will be used help the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy fund its research projects.

And the name Buffalo Run?

So where did the name “Buffalo Run” come from? The race (and the restaurant in Palmetto Bluff’s village) is named for a large buffalo nicknamed “Old Bill” that escaped from nearby Bull Island in the 1960s. The island’s owner kept a small herd of American bison for the amusement of his guests. Old Bill and a few of his buddies, lured by the aroma of lush food plots across the river, braved the tidal waters and swam over to the Bluff. For Old Bill’s companions the visit was brief as they soon headed back to Bull Island. Old Bill, however, decided that the forests and fields of Palmetto Bluff were the perfect habitat and that there was no reason to leave. He might have spent years at the Bluff, savoring the tasty crops planted by game managers, if he had been able to keep his bison temperament in check; it wasn’t long before Old Bill’s unpredictable and aggressive behavior made his continued presence at the Bluff impossible. Straws were drawn and one lucky hunter made Old Bill not only a legend, but also trophy for the wall at Buffalo’s restaurant.

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