Feeling the Power! Voyageur Trail Ultra 50 Recap


Two months after my crash-and-burn DNF at Glacier Ridge, I successfully completed the Voyageur Trail Ultra in Carlton, Minnesota, a little 50-mile jaunt to Duluth and back along a picturesque, and often treacherous, set of trails.

The Voyageur was a dress rehearsal for my upcoming 100K attempt at Run Woodstock, and I ran it with just two goals: 1) finish the damn thing, and 2) have fun doing it. And I did! I ran the entire race on an even keel, and though my feet and legs were plenty sore, I had energy in reserve. I’ll sure need it for those 12 extra miles in September!

That doesn’t mean the race was easy – far from it. In some ways it was the toughest ultra I’ve run to date.  Here’s a recap of this memorable race. I will let the pictures do most of the talking. Enjoy!

Me at the start, all geared up. The field was about 250 - their largest ever. 211 finished.
Me at the start, all geared up. Details on the gear and hydration strategy changes I made in an upcoming post.
Early on - the trail gets tricky.
The trail gets tricky early on. Yes, you would really have a bad time if you slipped. And this was just a warmup.
Gorgeous views throughout.
Gorgeous views throughout.

Some of the course isn’t so much a trail as a suggestion of one. The official name of this part is the Carlton Trail, but I prefer what the Chippewa call it: Crazy-Paleface-Break-Ankle. (*)

Voyageur - Treacherous Trail

The ropes in this section are NOT optional. You won’t get up (or back down) without them.

Voyageur - Ropes

The good news here is, you’re out of the woods. But you’ve entered the infamous Power Lines. There were about five of these ravines to deal with – muddy on the way out, broiling hot on the way back. And don’t slip.

What goes down...
What goes way down…
Must come way up - on hands and knees.
Must come way up – on hands and knees. But don’t worry, there are handy thorn bushes to grab onto. (Ask me how I know.)
Creek dancing - the new craze.
Creek dancing – the new craze.
Duluth at last! Hey, we could use a lift right now.
Duluth at last! Hey, how about a lift? We won’t tell.

Turnaround! Dry socks and fresh shoes! Woohoo! Now run the entire thing in reverse.

Voyageur - Turnaround Station 2

Another spectacular view.
Another spectacular view.
Did I mention there were gorgeous views throughout?
Did I mention there was gorgeous scenery throughout?

Finished! Mission accomplished!

Voyageur 2015 - Finish Line

And a big shout-out to this guy (Joe) who was running his first-ever 50-miler, and supporting the Noah’s Hope Foundation. “Sure is a big difference from a 5K,” he told me. Wait – for real? Yep, he’d run nothing in between. And he finished!

Voyageur - Joe - Run for Noah

Next up: The changes that made all the difference.


(*) Okay, maybe the Chippewa don’t really call it that, but I’m sure any of them would agree with it.

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