I think there’s some correlation, though it’s not 1:1. Like the Beast of Burden events that use the Erie Canal towpath between Lockport and Middleport are almost entirely dead flat on crushed gravel with potential for fast times, but I wouldn’t recommend to beginners – not enough variation underfoot or in the scenery.
Also there’s the whole timed loop race category which I’d prefer to exclude but are often both fast and good when first trying to hit ultra distances.
Green Lakes 50/100k is probably the fastest I’ve run in the region and one I would wholeheartedly recommend – beautiful course, limited vert, tons of aid accessibility and cushy surfaces.
My friends in PA tell me Blues Cruise 50k is both fast and good for beginners – several of them ran their PRs there – it also has the distinction of being one of the few courses I know of that is a single 50k loop. I’ve never made it out though.
Good consideration on the variation. Easy to quickly fry the same muscle groups without it if you’re not that top tier wicked speedy and fit individual. Seems the BOB events don’t necessarily draw the crowds going after speed…more those seeking endurance punishment. Green Lakes does flow, but has some short ups mixed in to slow things a hair. Blues Cruise has crept around the periphery of my radar throughout the years. Will have to check it out.
The Beast of Burden races are totally flat and run on a dirt path, but the weather often leads to lower-than-expected finishing rate. The Winter Beast can hit single digits over night while running through a foot of snow (which was the case this year, as well as a few other previous years.) The Summer Beast in mid-August is usually blazing hot, and there’s no tree cover anywhere on the course.
For beginners looking for a flat race, the Pine Creek Challenge 100M/100k is probably much friendlier—better running weather on a course that’s just as easy, and with better scenery.
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