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Uplifting Beast Coast ultra runners during and after the pandemic

Vanessa Kline finishes Big Horn.

By Henry Howard


Meet Vanessa Kline of Beast Coast Productions, who is this month’s featured race director as part of my special series highlighting RDs each month this year. With her partner, John, they started directing races with the Batona 55/33 mile in October 2019 and have since added several other races in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, giving a boost to Beast Coast ultra runners.


Admittedly, I chose Beast Coast in part because of my love for the East Coast, where I’ve lived most of my life, and the fact they put on races in three of the states where I have lived. And I am drawn to one of their races in particular, the New Jersey Devil 100, which Kline talks about in this question-and-answer interview.


Throughout 2024, I will feature one North American race director who specializes in trail and ultra events as a way to highlight what makes this sport great. That is the people, the community and the events themselves. Previously, I wrote about:



If you have nominations for other race directors to highlight, feel free to contact me with your suggestions.


Vanessa Kline: Beast Coast Productions Race Director


Beast Coast Productions is a family affair.

Question: Why did you get into race directing?

Answer: I wanted to bring more ultra events to our community and to be able to connect with others on a deeper level. My partner, John, and I absolutely LOVE seeing folks push past what they think their limits are.

Question: How did you get your start as an race director?

Answer: We first took over a race called Batona Trail Races. It was originally a fatass style event that our friends Angie and Denis put on. They were wanting to start a family and needed to hand the race over. After several discussions about what direction the race needed to go, the challenges with it, and understanding that I was already running another successful business (Beast Pacing) they chose us to take it over. From there we started adding additional races, pushing our community past the hell of 2020 where we searched for places that would allow us to obtain permits and put on races in a safe manner which often included multiple waves of people and being at short races all day so we could accommodate as many participants as we could while no other races were going on.

Question: What's the most interesting thing you've learned about yourself since you became a race director?

Answer: I'm able to handle more moving parts at one time than I ever imagined. It's incredibly hard work, but also very rewarding.

Question: What's your best piece of advice for someone who wants to become a race director?

Answer: Be ready for long hours and intensely crazy weeks leading up to events (especially if you are putting on long races). Get comfortable with a lack of sleep.

The New Jersey Devil 100 was run in 2023 but Beast Coast Productions is trying to salvage it.

Question: What's your favorite race to direct?

Answer:  My favorite to date has been the New Jersey Devil 100 (above) in April 2023. It took us 3 1/2 years to actually get that off the ground and it was magical all around.

Question: What's your favorite race to run?

Answer: There are too many to list. We love to support other local RDs so we try to run as many other races as possible when our schedule permits.

Question: Tell me about a funny experience as an RD and what you learned from it.

Answer: There are so many things that happen that it was hard to choose. I'll give you two. For Batona Trail Races one year, a portable toilet was delivered down the street from where it should have been. A friend and I got it onto the street and pushed the toilet about a quarter-mile to where it was supposed to be. The second one was also at Batona Trail Races — I think it was the same year as the toilet. I dropped supplies at an aid station at 3 a.m., knowing the supplies would sit there for a few hours unattended. The aid station volunteers called me to tell me they had a stove but didn’t have propane, soda and several other things that they needed, including an entire ice chest full of food for the runners. Most supplies had been stolen, and I had to figure out where I could get food for the runners in the middle of the Pine Barrens. I started calling local places and found a sandwich shop a few miles away from the aid station and ordered a bunch of sandwiches to be delivered right there on the side of the trail. It has now become a tradition to order from this local shop every time we've had a race in the area.

Beast Coast Pacing is how it all began.

Question: If a runner can only do one of your races ever, it would be … :

Answer: The New Jersey Devil 100 (although it may never exist again). Big Woods Half Marathon is a close second (IYKYK) and First State Trail Race provides fantastic views of the Brandywine Valley. So just come run all of those!

Question: What exciting project do you have in the works?

Answer: We are continuing to work on a new route for the New Jersey Devil 100. We have faced a ton of adversity with permitting. Our community needs and wants this event and while we are hopeful the event will return we are also realistic. We will continue to work until we are out of options -- we don't give up!

Question: Where can runners find out more about your races?



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