Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ashley's Ice Age 50 Mille - 2012

Race Report from LPTRunner Ashley Kumlien...

In May of 2009 when I wanted to give a 50-mile ultramarathon a try, I didn’t have to look far for an event.  I quickly found out that Wisconsin is an ultra running mecca hosting many attractive ultra races right in my backyard.  The closest up-coming race listed was a short 45-minute drive from home; the Ice Age 50-mile Trail Race.

Every day I would check the website and ponder the distance.  I had never even run a marathon before and here I was actually considering registering for the race.  I waited.

I continued my training but proceeded to wait, and I guess I waiting too long…the day that I thought was final registration day I logged on the site to see a big flashing banner “Registration Closed”.  My jaw dropped and my eyes filled with tears.  Usually in the race world, if registration is closed, it’s closed.  After a few minutes of consoling me (and likely considering how to check me in to the nearest psychiatric hospital) my dad suggested I just email the Race Director & ask if I could register.  Though I doubted the outcome to be a positive one, I did just that.  Less than an hour later I received a phone call back, “Hey no worries about registration, what’s your info? We definitely have room for you.”
Alas, welcome to the ultramarathon.  Friendly.  Accommodating.  Accepting.

The memory of my race at the Ice Age 50 in May of 2009 is as fresh as yesterday.  I toed the line nauseous & nervous, but in awe of the laughter & chatter going on around me.  As I ran the course, everyone said “Hi” and cheered for each other.  Some ran fast and some ran slow, but dare I say, no one cared? Everyone just seemed to want to enjoy the run.  As I stood at the finish line just over 10 hours later, I tried to take the whole scene in: music, food, beer, laughing, clapping, cow bells, spectators, sweat, ice, and fun.  “Who are these people?” I thought to myself.  I clung to their energy as I hobbled to the car.

Three years later in the present day I finally had the opportunity to run the Ice Age 50-mile race again and I couldn’t wait to run the race & the course that had been the beginning of my love of the ultramarathon distance.

Last summer I officially joined the Lapham Peak Trail Runners (LPTR) group by joining the crew of area ultrarunners for a group run on Wednesday nights.  With my official sticker in hand and awkward welcome speech given, I was in a running group.  Over the course of the past year, these runners have become my running community, and my friends.  We follow each other at races and cheer each other on.  We email and Facebook and remember embarrassing situations to use as later laughter-ammo.  We host events.  We support events.  We run and we laugh and we eat.  Mostly we eat.

As I toed the line this time for the Ice Age Trail 50, I couldn’t help but feel excited about the full day ahead of running with my friends.  I didn’t have to look far for inspiration; our group is cluttered with silent legends.  Jeff Mallach hosts an amazing race that attracts elite runners from all over the world.  On these these trails you’ll find Mary Gorski, a Badwater finisher, which, to me, it doesn’t get more legend-like then running 135-miles through Death Valley in July; Julie Trader & her fiancee Sam who helped her log nearly 1,000 race miles last year alone; the veteran lead guys, Rob, Kevin, & Joel who helped pioneer ultrarunning in the area; Mary Flaws, a superstar marathoner & ultimate cookie-maker; Cassie & Christine, two chicas who are usually running down 1st Place Female, and, quite often getting it; Melinda & Steve, who completed their first 50-mile race; Aaron, who brought me out to the LPTR group last summer AND walked the hills with me as I got my legs & lungs conditioned to the trails; Marty & Brad, fighting off running nuisances but aiding us nonetheless.

I know my list is far from complete when it comes to highlighting the individuals in this ultra running community that I enjoy so much, but either way, I couldn’t be more proud to be associated with such an amazing group of people.  They make ultra-running fun.

And, oh, how did the race go? Yeah, running 50-miles comes easy when friends are by your side and a cold beer greets you at the finish line.

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