Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not all roads lead to Burma…

Devils Lake 50 mile race report by Marcel Uttech...The race started like all races, nice speech, lots of people stretching, and even more people just standing around talking and laughing. I was at the Devils Lake ultramarathon race again this year, having done the 50k the year before I thought this year I would chase down the 50 miler. Besides, Ice Age 50 mi went so well for me I thought this would be a more grueling 50 miler to try-make sure it wasn’t just luck that got me through IA…

The weather was perfect up there for the start and there were hardly any bugs, (which was a blessing while walking in the woods!) The sunrise was beautiful to watch on the drive up from the West side of Madison. Krishna and his wife, Jose, Jodie and I all came up the morning of the race. We had a pretty good group of LPTR’s up there, although it seems that is the case at every race these days! Many of us started kind of far back in the pack, which I didn’t mind since it was gonna be a long day but some of the 50k ers were a little irritated when the trail became bottlenecked going into the woods and the walking began since no one was running…the course was pretty well marked, the prairie sections had some high foliage, and many trails were lined with thorns from berry bushes.  So if you wanted to pass and the person didn’t let you pass, you were gonna pay for it…

My race went pretty well the first half, I ran with people from our group mostly, finally ending up kind of on my own at mile 18 or so. It was at this point that the 50k ers headed back and those of us doing the 50 miler started the loop over again from Steinke. I noticed my Garmin was acting up a little, I went to wipe the sweat from my brow, heard a beep, saw it flash ‘lap 26’ meaning mile 26 but the reading on the watch was 25 something…figured it was close enough. I headed back up the bluffs, eagerly anticipating getting to my drop bag at mile 32 to refuel  as I was starting to run low on things…as far as I was concerned the bag was the finish line right now in my mind…so back up the bluffs I went, man are those brutal! At this time there were many hikers out and about, so I found myself saying “Runner on your left”  A LOT…not a big deal most of them were pretty cool about it. 

Once back up on top of the bluffs, I was once again looping my way around, taking in the sights and feeling pretty good. Came to aid station South Bluff Exchange…asked where the hell is the drop bags? Looking at my watch,  I was on mile 32 something…she says, “um,  this is mile 38.5. You should have already passed your drop bag.”
Of course, me being the delirious one running in the heat responds, “ that’s impossible…my watch says its only been like 32 miles or so…” because, naturally, the Garmin is the known keeper of all things mileage and time… Right? At which point she points to the sign posted  right NEXT to me which says ‘SOUTH BLUFF mile 38.5’ and says “ well that’s the sign they gave us so…” My mind is spinning…I hear a runner that came up say “guess your are farther along then you thought!”  So naturally my response to that is “well then I guess I should pick it up a little!” And I take off…still feeling like something is off, besides my watch.  I know my watch is off sometimes a mile or two, but 6? No way…well maybe? 

Of course I was just starting to feel better about it all when the same runner who made the comment comes up again behind me and says,” hey uh, lets talk…” turns out he has run this race like 6 years in a row, knows the course like the Head Goat and he tells me that he saw me come out at a T intersection, meaning I was behind him like 5 miles, then I passed him on the way to this last aid station. We start going over all the turns and aid stations, and I cant really even tell them all apart in my head at this point. We don’t really figure it out, we just keep running. Now in awkward silence (me, still thinking about it all cause this is bugging the sh*t out of me). The more I ponder this the more I know that somehow I got off track but cannot for the life of me figure out how. I was hitting an aid station every hour, I was always running on trails marked with pink flags…???

I get to the last aid station with 4.5 miles to go to the starting point (so before the ski hill) and decide I better get to the bottom of this. I explain to the lady there that I believe I am an hour ahead of schedule, and that I believe somehow I got off track…we decide to call up a race official. After I go over the map with him, I figure I must have taken a left at the 4 way and headed back up the east bluffs instead of going straight and back down around to Burma Rd ( which was the sight of the drop bags)…and would have also been the west bluffs. This loop is about 6 miles. At that point he asks me if I want him to shuttle me back there to run the loop. “ And then what ?” I ask….”oh, ya, there isn’t any aid out there anymore anyways…” I ask him if I can just run it in as a 50k although I was at mile 40…I said if I am being “DQ’ed from the 50mile then I’m sure as hell not running up that ski hill again” to which he said “sure go on in”. 

Marty at the finish of the 50 mile
So I go running in to the finish, and of course Jodie, Bruce and Krishna and Sam are all there thinking I am coming in from the 50 mile just BLAZING it! Hahaha Bruce’s eyes were so big, he was like, “Man I think you took second!” Meanwhile I am trying to explain what happened…very funny episode. So it turned out to be the longest 50k I have ever done. I was bummed I took a wrong turn but got over it sometime during the shower by the lakeJ. I stuck around and saw the rest of the LPTRs come in, Julie rocked it, and Annie did fantastic. Right behind her was Mike! I couldn’t believe how good he looked coming in! All smiles, practically dancing across the line. And then the one I was hoping to see cross that line, Marty KC coming in like a champion! 

It was great to stick around and bs with everyone, met some other runners, shared some thoughts on upcoming races… the post party that dances with dirt puts on is just awesome. So much food! Man the portabella  ‘shrooms were just fantastic! Just a helluva spread. So much fruit, I think I went up there like 5 times. We even got to see a member of the Village Peoples relay team propose to his significant other ( I assume?) right at the finish…so of course the dj throws on YMCA and they all come running in together…pretty wild, amidst the cheering  and applause and laughter…. So, to recap this race: After the blood and scrapes and bruises, once you get over that line, there is always laughter to follow.  

Gotta love the ultra races…anything can happen out there. Keep sharp people…

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