Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Marquette 50 Mile: The Softer Side of Superior

Race Report from Marty Kanter-Cronin:

So with Superior Sawtooth looming three weeks away, it was perfect timing for a last tune up race for some of the LPTR gang. Angela, Jeff, Kevin and I road-tripped up to the softer, south shore of Lake Superior for the Marquette Trail 50 mile, with a concurrent 50K race held in Marquette Michigan.

Also gathered at the Tourist Park Campsite in Marquette, which serves as the site of race, were LPTR Robyn, and the LPTR’s in waiting Kada and Izzy (Kevin’s girls, with Allison as capable mentor).

This is a relatively new race, but is shaping up as a great one. Attracting a small field of about 50 runners for both races, much of the course was held on the North Country Trail System along Lake Superior shoreline.  To quote Jeff Mallach: “Felt like an old-school ultra -- a bunch of friends getting together to go for a run in the woods”.  Mixing in a multitude of great trail running types, the race had technical single track (serious rocks), two peak climbs (one on stairs), miles of deep forest running on pine needles and dirt, a couple miles of jeep road, and finally the ever popular cross country ski trail out and back.

So at 6:30 am the race started in Tourist Park with a short bicycle paced 1.5 mile lead in to the trail system. Once there, the runners were off on the first short section of flat single track leading up to a very technical part of the race. For about 3 miles, the trail undulated and exposed rocks and roots made the footing tricky and the pace slow. About 5 miles into the race, runners were greeted with a long stretch of deep forest running, and the footing was much better and the course relatively flat. After the first aid station at 9 miles, came a climb up Sugarloaf Mountain and a significant number of stairs to the top. The view was breath taking, as was the heart stopping decent down a single track mountain trail.

Once past the ascent and decent of the mountain, runners were greeting with a long stretch of Superior shoreline running; this was the place to gain some time as the footing was perfect and the course completely flat almost all the way to second aid station at the 17 mile mark. More shoreline and a small run along a technical single track lead to the third Aid station which started runners on a climb to the “top of the world”, a slow three plus mile via another significant climb and descent and back to the third Aid station.

The next stretch missed a variety of running surfaces, including an old double track leading up to a logging road. This lead to the Forestville aid station and the official split of the 50 mile / 50K courses. It was nice that the two races shared this much of the race early: 27 miles the 50 K runners were mixed in with the 50 milers. Unfortunately, this is also the place of a very strict cut off time, leading inexplicably to the diverting of some of the 50 mile runners into a 50 K course. So many runners were diverted, that eventually no official female runners would complete the 50 mile on the day. Race director Joe understood that the cut off times need some adjusting.

From here the 50 milers headed out on a cross country ski trail, a 9.5 mile out and back loop exposed to a little more sun and heat. Jeff Mallach: “The 50k course was fantastic -- probably one of the most scenic, challenging and diverse 50k routes I've run. The additional 19 mile-out-and back for the 50 mile was nothing special”.

The race from the 50-mile race winner Kevin’s perspective: “I was happy with how the race unfolded for me - patient early and pushed a little when I had to... There was just enough technical to keep the pace controlled without beating us up Sawtooth style... I loved the feel of this race - very personal - you could tell the race director knew & loved the trails.  Met a lot of great people and got to spend lots of time with some my favorite LPTR's!!”

The race from my perspective: “Course was outstanding, just enough technical to keep it interesting. Plenty of scenic views of Lake Superior, and a deep-woods feel in a lot of the race. Beautiful 50K course, and a very “Nordic Blue Loop” feel to the ski trails. Good time of year weather wise, and superior trail marking by the race organizers. Quite happy with knocking an hour off my 50 mile PR and would rate right along side Ice Age in terms of difficulty elevation wise, although a bit more technical footing wise.”

Final word from Jeff M: “Really liked that the race started and finished in the campground where we were staying.  Walk to the start...hobble back from the finish.”

Post race, the LPTR’s gathered round the fire for stories and race critique. A major hit with the group were Robyn’s “Pie-Irons” which cranked out sloppy-joe’s and cherry pies to go with the many post race beverages making their way around.

It’s a long trip up to Marquette MI, but this race is a ‘must do’ if you want to get outstanding scenery along with a late summer race on your schedule.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

100 miles for a cause...

Just about a year ago, LPTRunner Hans Wegesser had a really close call... Now he's paying it forward.  I hope you will read his story and support his cause...

On Sept. 4th, 2010, 12 days before my 50th birthday, I had just crossed the finish line of the Cow Chip Classic 10k in Sauk City, Wisconsin. I felt a small tightness in the middle of my chest, and assumed I was dehydrated and out of breath from sprinting in the last few hundred yards. Within moments, I became light-headed and nauseous. Upon noticing that my face was gray and ashen, my friends went to get help. As I sat down by a tree at the finish line, I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. I had up to five EMT's working on me, getting vitals and placing nitro glycerin pills under my tongue. Never once did I feel that I was in imminent danger.
The EMT's convinced me to go to the hospital across the street to be checked out. They knew all along how serious and dire my situation was, but never let on. At the hospital, the Emergency Room doctor took my two buddies out in the hall and told them that I was having a massive heart attack and that I was in grave danger. He wanted to air lift me to UW-Madison's Heart Hospital Immediately. Unfortunately, the helicopter was having mechanical problems, and I was told I would be transported by Ambulance.
A 45-minute ride later, I was whisked into an operating room with four or more doctors waiting for me. One hour later, I awoke, and was informed that two stents were placed in an artery near my heart. The doctors opened a 100% blockage in my lower anterior descending artery. (Commonly known as The Widow Maker). I was told by my primary care doctor later in ICU that 90% of patients with this kind of heart attack don't survive. Strength of my heart and lungs, due to my running, was what saved my life. I was told that if this would have happened 7 or 8 years earlier, I would not have survived.
There is no history of Coronary Artery Disease in my family. I was told that I gave it to myself. I had stopped running at the age of 25, started smoking two packs of cigarettes per day, abusing alcohol and gaining 80 lbs. through poor dietary habits. At the age of 39, I stopped smoking, drinking and changed my diet. Two years ago, I changed my diet even more, and immediately noticed results. After my heart attack, there were a few concessions I was forced to make. I could never eat Edy's Rocky Road Ice Cream again, and no more donuts. Two vices that I couldn't take out of my life, until now. Once I found out that Sherbet was a tasty and healthy substitute for Ice cream, I knew I'd be okay with the rest of my diet.
Since my heart attack, I have picked up my training, and have completed a 30 mile trail race in Illinois (My time was 30 minutes faster than last year before my heart attack!) and on May 14th, I competed in a 50 mile trail race on Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail. 
My Cardiologist has given me several Echo Cardiograms since my heart attack, and has told me that my heart is completely normal! I have 1 - 2% permanent damage as a result of my attack. On the day of my attack, I had 20% damage! 
After speaking with Stan Theis, the Cow Chip Race Director, and the EMT’s that helped me that day, I made the decision to pass my good fortune forward. My 100 mile charity run will take place on Sept. 2 - 3. 
I will start in my hometown of Menomonee Falls, WI., and run a route to Sauk City, WI starting on Friday, Sept. 2nd at 5 a.m. from the playground of Shady Lane Elementary School and finishing around 6 a.m. on Sat., Sept. 3rd at Marion Park in Prairie du Sac, WI.  Along the way I will run through the towns of Oconomowoc, Marshall, Watertown, Sun Prairie, Waunakee and Sauk Prairie. 
I have coached high school cross country and track for the last 8 years, and enjoy teaching young athletes about the importance of exercise and diet. During my run I will meet up with local high school and middle school cross country teams, and they will help me run through their towns. The teams will also be fundraising, with the proceeds being split 50/50 between The American Heart Association, The Sauk Prairie Ambulance Association and the individual teams. I will present a check to the American Heart Assoc. and the Sauk Prairie Ambulance Assoc. after running the Cow Chip Classic 10k.

I look forward to your support, and hope that my charity run inspires young and old to exercise regularly and eat properly.
Remember..... Stay Vertical/Stay Fit
Hans Wegesser

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Superior Looming...

Superior Sawtooth is 4 1/2 weeks away and I can't tell which is winning out: Fear or Excitement.

I've finished Sawtooth in 2009, so its not fear of the unknown, it's fear of the KNOWN.  I know how much this race can hurt and how long the hurt lasts.

Every 100 miler comes with long stretches where you are trapped in your head and there's some "conversations" in there that center on whether it might be nicer to just lie down awhile.  The problem with Sawtooth is you tend to have an extra 9 or 10 hours of conversation.  I managed to finish Kettle 100 in 2009 with a time of 19:49.  Later that year, Superior 100 took over 28 hours ... And I finished third.  That is a LOT of extra time to be out there.  Consider at Kettle that I was done by 2am.  Superior took me past noon the next day.  Ouch.

After a one year absence, I'm signed up again (This is the excitement part!).  Apparently there is some selective amnesia after enough time passes. We have a pretty big LPTR group heading up this year and it should be a BLAST!!  My wife is taking the trip up with me as it turns out our anniversary is that weekend (how cool is she!??!)  As I wait for the time to tick away, I have taken to searching for past Sawtooth race reports to temper my enthusiasm...  Check out the links below the excerpts...Enjoy!!

“I’m in a lot of pain today. My ass cheeks are so inflamed that a shower just hasn’t been tolerable yet – my chaff is so serious there’s puss involved. My hips cannot hold up my torso without 30 seconds of leg balance and acclimation, and my feet feel as though they are in a constant cramp.
I have heel blisters, between the toe blisters, and bug bites on my shaved head.”

“This next section out of Crosby was just nasty - I don't know any other way to describe this 9.4 miles.  There were lots of rocky walls to scale, steep ups/downs, and it took forever!  I felt like I was stuck in the twilight zone here.”

“This course is a trail runner's course and the race is a trail runner's race. I cannot think of many point to point courses that are entirely on trail and offer such challenging terrain. If you enjoy vanilla races, this is not for you. The beauty of the Superior Hiking Trail will leave an indelible imprint on your soul and the technical terrain will leave you with a few bruises. If you are looking for a predictable course, this isn't for you either.” 

Thursday, August 4, 2011


The Gear-Head post turned out to be a popular one and has even been credited for a few recent LPTR purchases… However, it’s possible (though HIGHLY unlikely) that there is more gear out there that I don’t have and haven’t recommended (yet).   Here’s some more Gear Favorites forwarded to me from the group…

Adam Sullivan: Head to Toe…

What can I say?  It's a hat but it's an awesome hat.  I went through 3 or 4 different running hats before I finally settled on this one.  I lost my first at the Chicago Triathlon last summer and quickly bought a new one in time for the Superior 50.

Awesome sunglasses.  Tons of colors and lenses available.  I would like to get a polarized or vented pair but for now my smoke colored lenses are just fine.

Sure it's not a Fenix but I like it so far.

Smaller but very lightweight.  The new (2011) version is way better than the old one.  Pretty bright for a very small package.

Shirt:   Go Lite Wildwood
Of Course this was already covered.  Awesome shirt, just bought my 2nd one.

Shorts:   Patagonia Ultra (2010 version)
Tons of pockets.  Great liner.  Retain water a bit quicker than other shorts but don't get weighed down or heavy.  All around awesome shorts.


Editors note.  I am appalled.  Get some socks. Your feet are fizzing…

The BEST minimalist trail running shoes available.  Merrell is really embracing the minimalist/barefoot movement and bringing a ton of great products to market that are true zero drop shoes with great protection and grip for the trails.  I don't run in anything else

Hydration:  For shorter runs I use the Ultimate Direction Fast Draw Plus http://www.ultimatedirection.com/product.php?id=12&page=handhelds
Good water bottle (although mine tends to leak).  It's the second one I've owned after losing the first.  (I'm an idiot)

Longer runs bring out the Ultimate Direction Wasp.
64oz reservoir.  Tons of storage.  Really great pack that doesn't bounce.  I bought it after reading the reviews at www.runningandrambling.com probably half a dozen times.  Can't go wrong with this one.

Angela Barbera:

 dirty girls gators  http://www.dirtygirlgaiters.com/
$17- nice variety of patterns - something for everyone. No cords underneath the shoes...fasten with velcro on the shoe. You may want to get some Gorilla glue to fasten it permanently on the shoe.

No need to worry if short or long sleeve is needed for the day or part of the day. Use the MoeBen Sleeves. Wear them up or push them down if not needed. Some great material. You can also jam icecubes in the sleeves to keep you cool on HOT days. Great variety of patterns.

My favorite toilet paper! EZ Towels

Gabriel Bellido: My two recommendations are related to shoes and socks.

  The shoes I like the most are the Brooks Adrenaline ASRs (http://www.brooksrunning.com/Brooks-Adrenaline-ASR-7-Mens-Trail-Running-Shoe/110080,default,pd.html).  Moisture control is one of the key things for me in a trail shoe.  With the ASRs, doesn't matter how long the run, how many puddles of water you step into, they will eventually dry up or at least your feet will not be as wet as other shoes.   The pair I have is 2.5 years old and have been with me in the three official 50 K's I finished and also in the unofficial 50K (in 2009 I signed up for the DWD Devil's Lake marathon, got lost three times and ended up running 31 miles!?!).


The socks that work for me winter or summer are:
 Feetures Socks
: http://www.shopatron.com/products/productdetail/Feetures%21+Bamboo+and+Wool+Ultra+Light+Cushion-Quarter/part_number=F2502%2A/556.

  Like the Wright Socks from Kevin’s Gear-Head post, these socks don't last too long but they really protect your feet and keep them dry.

Steve Poulter:
 For Joel and Dehart, I Love my flannel running shirt!:  


Kyle Roberts:  Got to put the Vibram Fivefingers Bikila in there:  http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/products/Five-Fingers-Bikila-Mens.htm.  #1 best
 way to strengthen your feet!  What people usually find when they start
 wearing them is that these shoes make their feet a bit sore, which is a 
 thing.  This means it there is a weakness that is being addressed.  Once a
 person is able to wear the Fivefingers all day (this may take a couple
 of weeks
 or more) then their feet are much stronger which will make them a much 
 efficient runner, and better able to withstand the rigors of running!
 Truly, should be a required piece of gear for all runners.

Where the heck is Christine???

An update from Christine Crawford...    

I thought about writing this for a while and made the decision that it was easier to put it out there in a (long) story rather than repeat it over and over again or have people guess as to what’s going on with me.  Stop reading now if you are not interested.  It’s rather boring. 

I began running ultras in 2000.  I fractured my tibia in the summer of 2007 and wore a cam walker for two months.  It took about four months to recover from that.  I then fractured my femur (hip break) in 2009 and with that came a DVT. Unfortunately, the fracture was misdiagnosed initially and I hobbled around in excruciating pain for two weeks. A hip break at 39 years old is NOT normal considering I eat pretty well and my running mileage was that of a pedestrian in my opinion (45 miles per week average).  The summer of 2009 was a very dark time for me and I’ll spare you the details because I don’t like to think about that time.  My life was filled with doctors’ appointments, injections, blood draws, MRI’s, x-rays, crutches and wheel chairs, I was reduced to nothing but sitting in a chair.  That fracture took longer to heal than the doctors expected.  As my ortho told me, he had 80 year old women heal faster from a broken hip. 

I should have laid low for 2010 to let things heal up completely but I wanted to run ultras.  I dealt with pain for the entire year. It was mostly hip pain but in hindsight, a hip break is a big deal and my body was still recovering from the injury and was worn down from all the trauma and medication.  I sought help from a PT who was outstanding, an ART specialist and thought of running the NF50 – Madison.  I got to the starting line but wasn’t in top shape and was taped from hip to ankle with Kineseo tape.  I joked with my PT that I would come out of the event with a totally different pain and the hip pain would be resolved.  At mile 20ish, I felt a sharp pain in my left heel similar to a bad case of  plantar fasciitis.  I asked my husband to have some shoes ready for me at the next aid station and I thought that might resolve the problem (along with more Aleve – don’t do that, that’s stupid).  I was ready to change my shoes when Tom Bunk told me the second place girl was two minutes behind me; I had slowed up that much due to heel pain.  I didn’t change shoes and walked out of the aid station trying my best to suck up the pain still thinking it was a soft tissue injury.  I finished the 50 and dealt with heel pain for the next month.  I tried running Glacial 50 but the pain was too much.  I felt as low as I did when I broke my hip.  What the heck was wrong with me?  Why does running hurt so much?  Why does it seem that I need several days off between runs when my friends can run without much pain and fatigue?  I spoke with my PT and she told me that it wasn’t PF and that I needed an MRI.  My ortho shook his head when he saw me and proceeded to tell me that I had the biggest file of all his patients.  That wasn’t funny to me.  I had no sense of humor anymore.  I was sent for an MRI and he called me back later in the day.  He hesitated for a moment and then told me that I had fractured my heel and I would have to take more time off from running.  I couldn’t bike, do elliptical, walk or run for exercise.  I could lift weights from a seated position and swim.  He suggested another sport other than running. 

So, there I sat again from November until February.  When I was clear to run, I began slow and easy.  I was able to run Clinton Lake with my friend Don and then Double Chubb in April.  Again, not in great shape, still in some pain but I was running!  After Double Chubb, I had issues with the same foot which I sustained the heel fracture in.  I did a few build up runs for Ice Age but the pain got worse.  Ice Age was out and I found out that I now had plantar fasciitis, lots of edema and…drum roll….a fractured metatarsal. 

I was done with anything fitness related for about two days.  In true Crawford fashion, I was back on board with my fitness plan and thought that I had to find an answer as to what was going on.  My ortho told me he couldn’t help me anymore, my PT had corrected my running form and that was strong, I took Boniva for a year even though it wasn’t truly necessary but it was preventative since I had borderline osteopenia and I had sustained a hip break.  I felt like I did everything necessary to get better yet I was still having problems with fractures.  I called my GP and begged for help!  I needed all of my doctors to talk to each other.  Hello, Dr. X, this is Dr. Y and Z, this is me, Christine. I’m a real person who is confused as hell and just want to feel better.  Now that you’ve all met, figure it out for me.  Really, how hard does one person have to work to get answers!  Let this be a lesson, don’t settle for a lame answer if you feel that what the experts are telling you is not right. 

Enter the Nephrologist and finally a diagnosis.  I have a genetic predisposition which, when combined with a change in hormones can lead to something called bone metabolic disease.  I was diagnosed with high blood pressure as well.  Read below for a description of bone metabolic disease.  For now, I need to inject myself once a day with a medication which will stimulate bone growth.  In a nut shell, my bone density is good but the rate at which I repair bones has slowed to the point that my body thinks I’m 80 years old.  Training hard with 80 year old bones is not ideal.  I will see a Nephrologist the rest of my life to keep this disease in check.  I can take the injections for up to two years but then have to stop since it can cause bone cancer.  I’ll have to take BP medication since that is another genetic problem and diet and exercise alone won’t lower it.  I hope the medication works.  As I write this, I see the Nephrologist this week for more blood work.  If the medication is not helping then he will investigate a bit further.  As far as running ultras go, I’m still all in!  I can’t wait to run an ultra again.  I’ll have to dream about it for a while and maybe do some ultra walking.  I’m forever thankful for all of my friends and my family who have helped me through this struggle.  I just have to believe things will get better.  They will. 

Metabolic Bone Disease
Bone, a Living Organism
Bone is made of organic matter and minerals - principally calcium and phosphorus. Bone stores calcium and releases it to the blood stream as needed. The regulation of calcium is extremely tight and is important to many biological functions, such as blood clotting and muscle function. Therefore, healthy bones and adequate storage of calcium in the skeleton is essential.

In addition to its principal role as a supportive structure, the skeleton is a living organ, undergoing continuous rebuilding to remain strong and functional. It takes approximately three months for the body to completely rebuild one bone unit. At any point in time, thousands of bone units are undergoing different stages of rebuilding. Changes in body hormonal status, age, postmenopausal state, diet, alcohol consumption, and other genetic alterations can dramatically affect this process, resulting in changes in bone composition and strength.
Bone Diseases
Changes in bone building can have many causes - certain medications, diseases (such as lupus, arthritis, malabsorption or kidney failure), diet, age, genetic factors, or alterations in hormonal status.
Treatment – Once a day Forteo injection for two years
TeriParatide (r DNA) injection is the recombinant form of Parathyroid hormone (PTH), also known as paratharmone. Parathormone is a protein hormone, containing 84 amino acids, secreted by the parathyroid glands. The recombinant form of paratharmone contains identical sequence of 34-amnoacid sequence from the N terminal, similar to that of the endogenous paratharmone. This sequence of amino acid resembles the active region of endogenous paratharmone, and binds to the paratharmone receptors in the bone cells and stimulates osteoblastic activity in the bone cells. This helps in bone mineralisation.
Teri Paratide(r DNA) is used to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis is a bone disorder, which makes the bone brittle and susceptible to easy fractures, due to decrease in bone mass. Paratide r DNA intravenous increases bone mass, thereby prevents fracture of bone in elderly patients and postmenopausal women.
Read more: http://www.righthealth.com/topic/metabolic_bone_disease#ixzz1Ty32nHce

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The 30th Voyageur...

Race Report by Tom Bunk...
The plans were made and the van was loaded with 5 guys heading to Carlton for the 30th running of the Voyageur 50 mile run. I knew the pressure was on when earlier in the week the Duluth paper called to get an update as to why I had ran 23 of the 29 races (editior's note: see link here). One of the guys that talked me into doing the first one had asked that same question after I had ran five of the races. His comment was (Bunk is there something wrong with you? Doing this race one time in the heat should be enough.) My excuse was always the same, keep trying and just maybe you will figure out how to run it.

The trip up was great with Robert Wehner driving, Jeff Mallach knapping, Dave Dehart with his great bag of back country comments, Marcel Uttech the newbie that soaked in all the BS.  We stopped and ate lots of food on the way up and ate a double load of pasta the night before the run. We  pounded down some pancakes sausage and eggs at the $4.00 per plate all you can eat pancake breakfast in Carlton about 6:15 AM before we headed to the start line a little on the over loaded side.

We lined up for a lapham Peak picture. Andy Holak lined us up and we were off down the road and bike trail to the trail. My game plan was to start slow and find a little gap in the group when we hit the trail. The first 3.5 miles or so is one ugly mother of rocks roots mud holes and I wanted to stay up right. I thought I was running pretty fast but people just kept going past me on the bike trail. I looked around to see how many more were behind me when I hit the trail head. To my surprise, all 160 runners were on the trail before me. This was perfect. I always wanted to run this ugly section without anyone pushing me.

I stayed into my new found pace for about the first hour and then decided to get back in the game and try to make the cutoff times. I passed a few people along the way and made it to the scenic power lines in good shape. The only issue was my shorts were dripping with water and it felt like my body was being drained of fluids. (As Dave Dehart would say, hotter than a well diggers something or other.) I walked up the power lines slowly and walked down slower. This worked just fine. The last power line has a stream crossing at the bottom of the hill and I decided to do some rock jumping across to keep my feet dry. There was mud on top of the rocks from others using this trick. I managed to slip and do a backward flip into the stream and fill my shoes up with water and stones. Thank God I landed on my knee with the steel joint. I wouldn’t want to hurt my good knee. I made it to the next aide station and cleaned out my shoes and got back to the pursuit of staying ahead of the cutoff.

Another hour or two went by and I was still in the game to make the 6 hour cutoff at the 25 mile turnaround. I thought I was seeing things when I caught up to Jim Blanchard crossing a stream. He was in a low spot for energy and I went charging right by at about a 14 minute per mile pace.  Five minutes later a saw a runner coming down the trail running towards me with a number on. This couldn’t possibly be the leader already heading back. I wasn’t even 18 miles into the run and he was at 32 miles. This was just the start, one after another just kept coming. Hey, one guy hollered, you’re the legend on this course. I understand now when you are slow as I am that’s what makes you a legend.
The turnaround finally came and I made the cutoff by 10 minutes. My running was over but walking and eating was still working. I loaded up on food and headed up the trail to the next aide station. In this section there is an awesome view of Lake Superior and I soaked it all in. Things may change, but as I walked I thanked God for giving the opportunity to run on this trail for 24 years. I felt a cool breeze coming off the lake and soaked in the moment. I heard someone whisper to me that all good things must end sometime. I took a chair at the next aide station and called it a day.

I had some good runs at this race over the years. They were good to me, but not fast by the race standards. When I got a big head and thought I was something, the course would humble me and bring me to my knees. The DNF of the legend on this course was overdue.  I watched my friends finish and enjoyed the look on their faces and their stories of struggle to finish. It was another great day at the trails. I will just live with 23 and 1.

Voyageur: Every bit as tough as they say…

Race Report by Marcel Uttech:
It was the 30th anniversary for this great trail race this year. I allowed Jeff Mallach to talk me into doing this race, and before you know it Robert and the gang (Dave Dehart, Tom Bunk, and Jeff Mallach) arrived to pick me up to head north. It’s always a blast going to these types of races with a group, especially other people from the LPTR. Nothing makes a 7 hr or so car ride fly by like countless stories of racing, past races, trapping, and pole cats (don’t ask).

We checked into the Black Bear Casino and after dropping off our stuff went into town for some dinner and packet pick up. Ran into Jim Blanchard and his wife Sue, along with Deb and Dawn and other friends at the restaurant and settled in for all you can eat spaghetti. Weather was beautiful up there and the scenery was pretty awesome. The next morning all of us stopped down at the VFW for the pancake breakfast , which at first I was a little leery of but my stomach won the decision so I enjoyed a few with plenty of syrup. We were all in good spirits, looking forward to the race and getting this thing going! It was kind of nice hearing the stories of past Voyageur races and what people thought of them, what to expect, and what the general course was like. Of course one starts to get their own idea of what its gonna look like- and that’s usually way off.

Race started with a brief message from the RD Andy Holak and then we were off. I guess there were a record number of entrants this year. It was incredible how many people I talked with during the race who said that this was their first ‘trail race’?? It was gonna be a long day…

Of course there was the usual; some people holding back while others flew on by. I took my time and settled into a good rhythm, trying to sneak peeks at the scenery around me while not getting tripped up. The trail was pretty technical in spots, and there were plenty of places where you did NOT want to go down. It was like Robert said, “There’s spots where if you slip or step off the trail your automatically 10 feet away from it” ha-ha very true!

The first half went well, I think for a lot of people. There was some overcast which really helped keep things somewhat cool. I was introduced to the power lines, which have the STEEPEST hills I have seen yet in my few trail running years. Little slick going out, I could just imagine what they would be like if it was raining! They are a force to be reckoned with, for sure. This course was an out and back which was nice considering you get to see everyone at least once. When I saw the leader, I was pretty amazed-wow, that guys is like 14 miles ahead of me! CRAZY! Ok, back to my own race…

Everyone I saw at or near the turnaround looked like they were doing well. Ron and Dave looked like they were feeling no pain. I informed Dave I was getting ready to drop the hammer even though I knew I was not, and was basically just trying to keep a good pace going.  I am lucky in an ironic sort of way considering that I work in the heat most days, so I am pretty used to it and therefore it doesn’t seem to be that much of a factor in my runs/races. However once the temps crept up to around 90 people started feeling it big time. During the second half I saw quite a few people not looking so good.

Flash forward to mile 35 or so- I catch a second wind of great energy and decide that I am going to blast through the power line section round 2 while I got it and so I do, passing quite a few people who were more than happy to step over and let me by.  That burst got me through and back into the woods which was a helluva lot nicer than being out in that sun where the buzzards were circling. My quads were starting to hurt, and I slowed down for awhile. At every stream crossing I took advantage of the cool water, splashing my face and enjoying it. Ran with a few people here and there but it was getting pretty spread out at this point for me. 

There were a few people that I had been yo-yo ‘ing with for the last 15 miles or so and at the last aid station I saw them yapping so I figured this was my shot…grabbed the minimals and got right back out there. Back in the woods heading through the last 3.5 miles or so, I see them coming…I pick it up, threading my way through the rocks and gaining ground. I glance back a few times and they are nowhere to be seen. I relax a little, and glad to be because I am hurting pretty good. Then all of a sudden he’s like right next to me! I notice he dropped his buddy. “Hey man, that trails got to be coming close eh?” I hear him say, all nonchalant. I’m thinking “oh great…well buddy how bad do you want it? I’m going to make you work for it!” 

So we are running together for a little bit, picking it up where we can. I can’t shake him. There’s the paved bike road leading to the finish…we pass a guy on all fours, with someone watching over him…We catch another guy, and I got this rock in my shoe just screaming at me. I stop to get it out; they get about 50 feet or so ahead. I catch up, talk with them a bit, and then say “well, guys, nice run today. I’m heading in” and I take off. I don’t stop to see if they are chasing, all I know is I am emptying the tank. Around the corner I see the finish. Suckin’ air I ride those tired legs right in… man I love that feeling!

Tough race, tough day, but the smiles afterwards came real easy. The showers afterwards were ice cold- not sure if that was a blessing or torture, but it didn’t matter. It was done. It was great seeing the rest of the crew make it in…Riding the high I already knew I would be coming back next year, even as I watched this guy cross the finish and throw up, take a couple steps, throw up a little more... I applaud a little louder-it was epic. 

This was an invaluable experience, with great company and trails that were a blessing to see and to run on. I am glad I took the time to spend it with such great people, I will never forget it.