Tag Archives: races

Ultras Up Ahead: Power Lines and LSD

DWD Devils Lake - Halfway Point - cropped 2I MUST REALLY LOVE running crazy long distances in the woods. Otherwise, why would I keep signing up for the silly things?

My 2015 race calendar is less ambitious than 2014, however, when I had over 30 events mapped out in a color-coded spreadsheet. This year I’ve run seven so far, with only two others officially signed up for. There will be more, but I’m being more selective and giving myself more time to train. Still feels odd to have all this time between races.

No need to get quite so fancy this year.

No need to get quite so fancy this year.

But fewer races doesn’t mean an easier schedule. Here are the upcoming races I’m committed to:

Saturday, July 25 – Voyageur Trail Ultra 50

From the website.

From the website.

Billing itself as, “one of the oldest trail ultras in the nation,” this race treks through Minnesota’s Jay Cooke State Park from Carlton to Duluth and back. As its name implies, it’s a 50-miler, promising “scenic overlooks of Duluth and Lake Superior, the iconic Swinging Bridge over the St. Louis River, and the infamous Power Lines.” I can only guess what’s “infamous” about those lines. If I survive I’ll let you know.

I chose this race over Burning River, a much larger event on the same day in Cuyahoga, Ohio that attracts top ultra talent from all over. The BR was much closer to home, and I’d actually begun the signup process. Then an innocent little question on the entry form changed everything:

Bus ride to start? (Yes / No)

Turns out the race is point-to-point, and you’re expected to park (and/or stay) in the finish area. The 50-miler starts at 6:00 a.m. (okay), but the runners must be on the bus by 4:30. That means dragging my butt out of bed at 4:00. Sorry, that time of morning doesn’t exist. Oh, and the 100-milers? They must be on their bus by 2:30. Yikes!

So I chose the Minnesota race instead. I like that it’s smaller, and that it was half the price. And my motel is just a few miles from the start (and finish).

Friday/Saturday, September 11-12: Run Woodstock LSD 100K

Run Woodstock - Randy StepThe Pinckney trail system was the site of my first 50K (2012) and first 50-miler (2013). Last year was supposed to be my first triumphant 100K, but Nature and my body had different ideas. So it’s back to Hell Creek Ranch to give it another go.

This ultra starts at 4:00 in the afternoon – a very civilized time if you ask me. Of course, my likely finish time of 15-16 hours means I will be running literally all night long. Still beats getting up in the middle of the night in my book.

LSD, by the way, can stand either for “Long, Slow Distance” or for the substance you suspect I might have been on when I signed up for this. Your choice. I have read several accounts of runners experiencing hallucinations during ultras, so maybe the traditional definition wins out anyway.

I’m also intrigued by the Speedgoat, a 50K in Utah that has nearly 12,000 feet of climbing – all at 7,600 feet or above. What a shame it’s the same weekend as the Voyageur! Oh, well, maybe next year.

Turkey Trotting, Free Fotos, and Donating Duds

The PR Fitness group run was smaller than usual today. Many of our regulars are running one of the big marathons this weekend – Detroit, Grand Rapids, or Columbus. I joined a group training for the “Iron Turkey” (5K followed by 10K) at the upcoming Ann Arbor Turkey Trot. We ran the Border-to-Border Trail along the Huron River, and I got to see the Argo Cascades for the first time. This is a set of artificial rapids completed last March that can be used by canoes, kayaks, and tubes. No one was on them today, it being cold and wet, but sometime I want to come back out to watch them in use. The crew teams were out on the river as usual, however.

Argo Cascades. Photo courtesy of Andy Piper, Flickr Creative Commons

This afternoon I stopped at the Running Fit in Novi to pick up what I won at the Ride for Amy auction – free race photos for 2013! Greg Sadler Photography donated the service to help raise money for Amy’s recovery, and I put in a bid on it, which turned out to be the winner. So all photos they take of me at races they cover (a lot around here) will be sent to me, full resolution, free of charge. It won’t take many races for make the price worthwhile, but even without that, the money went to a good cause.

The 2012 Super 5K. Look for a lot more of photos like these in next year’s posts!

I also dropped off some old running shoes, including the ones I ran my Woodstock 50K in. I’d worn the soles almost completely bare from running and racing, and then for errands, walking around, and such. I’d used them for one final blaze of glory at Run Woodstock, since I didn’t care if they got trashed by the mud. Instead of throwing them in the trash, I decided to see if I could donate them instead. The girl at Running Fit confirmed they would take them, and that the shoes would be reconditioned for use in poorer countries where shoes are scarce. Despite the good cause, I found it surprisingly difficult to hand them over, sort of like sending two old racehorses to the glue factory. When I explained I’d run my first ultra in them, she smiled and asked if I’d like a moment alone with them.

I also have several T-shirts from my various races that I would like to donate to anyone interested. Adult Large, 100% cotton, most never worn. Holiday Hustle T-shirts are long sleeve. Email me or leave a comment if you’d like one. Otherwise, they will go to the Salvation Army store or PTO Thrift Shop.