Race Report from LPTRunner Marcel Uttech...
Superior 2014 called me back to Lutsen, with the 50 mile training absorbing every free weekend and evening hour available once school let out in late May. I had not done a 50 mile race since Bighorn in 2012, and I was plenty due. After getting the itch again and deciding that yes school is important but running long distances in the woods is what keeps me sane and relatively in good spirits, I signed up for Superior (probably after a long run went really well). Pre September training consisted of running pretty much in the Northern Kettle all winter breaking trails and getting my mileage back up, I signed up for the NK 50k in Greenbush and had a pretty good race. (Nic puts on a great one, wonderful spring race).Then came Chippewa (not to be missed EVER) and then summer online classes came along. Those put a hiccup in my training plans but nonetheless I pretty much continued to get in a decent long run on Saturdays (3x blackloops) and then a long bike ride on Sunday to flush the legs and get another workout. I would run once or twice during the week as well whenever I could to try and get my mileage up. Oh, and lets not forget the standup desk at work (which I believe was a huge help all the way around).
So, as the race drew nearer and I became a little worried that my mileage just wasn’t where it ought to be, I thought about doing stair repeats. The stairs at Atwater beach here by Lake Michigan are very steep and number about 200, plus they come with a GREAT view of the lake, accompanied by occasional cool winds off the lake. So, the first Wednesday I did them for about 35 minutes, or 15 reps. Next day I could barely walk and I knew I had found a weak link. A couple of sessions and lots of foam rolling later I was up to an hour with minimal soreness the following day. Long story short, I was able to run pretty much all the hills (except for the little mountain climbs) at Superior and never really got tired from them- this was pretty much a break-through for me although runners from the group (Kevin) always swore by them (stair repeats). They (stairs) REALLY make a difference for your ascents/descent muscles and calves. Put in the work, you will love it (at the race, probably not while you are doing the stairs J)
While there was probably only a tenth of our 2011 group up there at Superior this year, the event was just as awesome as I remember it. Starting a half hour earlier enabled me to see the stars shining so bright up there while on the bus ride to the start…Jodie and I ended up sitting next to Deb and Mary on the bus, so it was nice to catch up with them! Seeing Tina and Angela at Crosby Manitou along with Matt ‘Come Get Me’ Patten was such a pick me up!
I stuck to perpetuem and potatoes pretty much the whole race, except for the last 10 miles I switched to Heed. Vitamin B12 every 2 hrs after the first 6, and scaps and enduralytes 1 each every hour after the first one or so. Pretty smooth sailing through some of the most scenic trails this side of Canada.
The weather was perfect, and while there were some pretty muddy sections of the trail due to a wet summer and some previous rain, there were virtually no bugs and the dry sections were great. I felt perfect the first 20 miles, and then had the usual ups and downs for a bit before getting another surge around mile 35. Met some great new friends, caught up with some old ones and just had a fantastic time. Strangely enough, the hills seemed a little shorter this time around, probably because of doing Bighorn but don’t get me wrong the course is still as tough as ever. My finish time this year was 13:33 and I felt pretty good the whole way (besides getting stuck in the woods bottlenecked for the first 1-2 hours in the morning- note to self, don’t start too far back).
To simply get up there for a couple of days and spend it running those trails is worth whatever those rocks/roots/stones throw at you, and if you get a chance to make that trip, take it. You will not soon forget it. I am still washing Superior mud off my feet I think…even so, every wince as I walk today brings a knowing smile.