Well the sun don't shine
On a moonshine still
Copper line hiding in the side of a hill
It'll get you there
It'll get you there quicker
Fruit jar full of that good corn liquor
— The Steeldrivers
In the late 1940s, clear, unaged whiskey was distilled all around and along what is now the Cumberland Trail. These "moonshine" stills were run by a moonshiner and at least one still-hand working side by side. And they were totally illegal. Distilled at night to avoid detection, moonshiners were constantly on the lookout for and on the run from revenuers.
Today, you're way more likely to find trail runners along the trail, but artifacts from that bygone era are still found from time to time.
Most trail runners in the Southeast are familiar with the Upchuck 50K. Our good friends Matt Sims and Chad Wamack with Wild Trails have turned that race into an absolute classic. In 2016, Rock/Creek Races created the Stillhouse 100K, a double-running of the Upchuck course. It covers 62 miles of the Cumberland Trail with around 12,000 feet of elevation gain and an equal amount of loss.
After a three-year hiatus, the Stillhouse 100K has returned to the Rock/Creek Races lineup, and we believe this could be one of the best 100K's in the country.
Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, 125 "lucky" runners will set off from the pavilion at the Soddy-Daisy Senior Citizen Center. When they return to the finish, they will likely feel like they want to take up permanent residence at the center.
After an approximate 1.5-mile warm-up on the road, the real fun will begin with a right-hand turn onto the Cumberland Trail. Big climbs and big descents into and out of Soddy Creek, Possum Creek and Rock Creek along technical singletrack make for a very challenging race. Aid stations spaced an average of 10 miles apart add to the level of difficulty.
Stillhouse is obviously not for beginners. Even some of our seasoned veterans will take every minute of the 19 hours available to them to reach the finish line. Each will carry required gear necessary to sustain and protect them between the aid stations. When they arrive at the Leggett Road trailhead, they can access drop bags. Hopefully they've packed them well, because they will still have 31 grueling miles to the finish.
As difficult as this will be for our regular runners, there are some that have decided that surely there must be a harder way. The midnight start, rocky technical trail, giant climbs and quad-busting downs, likely freezing temps and limited aid just didn't seem difficult enough.
So, new for the 2020 edition is the Still Hand category. These racers will partner up and forego all the comfort and delicacies available at our five aid stations. Much like the moonshiners and their still-hands that once rambled the hills and hollers, they will start, run and finish together. Getting separated from your partner will result in disqualification. These purists will be totally self-sufficient, carrying all their own food and water (aside from what they can buy at the infamous convenience store on Heiss Mountain Road). Still Hands can't leave a drop bag for the turnaround, and they can't have a crew or pacers.
Whether you run solo or with your favorite partner in crime, come give the Rock/Creek Stillhouse 100K a try. See if you can outrun the clock, the other runners, and maybe a few revenuers trying to bust up your still in what should be one of the best and toughest races of the year. Then stick around for the finest 'shine our still can produce.