If you want to run a race in the upper midwest, look no further than those put on by Great Lakes Endurance. Great Lakes Endurance puts on races, from the 5km to the marathon, throughout the calendar year in both Wisconsin and Michigan. Backed by Patagonia, Petzel, Atlas, Hammer Nutrition, the US Forest Service, and RaceReady, Race Director (RD) Jeff Crumbaugh showcases some of the finest trail running that the upper midwest has to offer. (alternatively, the Upper Midwest Trail Runners host a plethora of first-rate events in the region.)
The Porcupine Mtn Trail Marathon, one of the many races offered by Great Lakes Endurance, fit my schedule best, and so I ventured up to the Michigan upper peninsula for some camping and trail running. And was it ever a swell time. Despite a downpour Friday night, I arrived at the start of the race Saturday morning to cheerful participants and a hearty field of marathoners ready to tackle the 3,100' feet of ascent up and around (twice) the Porcupine Mountains. With mile markers throughout the course, seven aid stations flush with Hammer Nutrition Products, and formidable competition, the inaugural race proved to be a great success. Though the course seemed to be a touch short (as per my Garmin), and the trails proved a sloppy, muddy, wet mess from the overnight rain, the pace of the front finishers remained stout. I ran the earliest miles with Craig Hertz, a resident of Duluth whom I met at the Voyaguer 50 back in 2011, and then slopped through extremely muddied cross country ski trails and technical single track with eventual winner, Andy Warren, during the majority of the first loop (about 14 miles), before darting into the woods to relieve myself around mile 13. My stomach problems never did subside and, rather than being able to push during the second half, I could only manage to maintain a decent pace in holding off eventual third and fourth place finishers to the finish (+:40 on 3rd, +2:30 on 4th, the 4th place finisher being Craig Hertz).
Finishing the race was a quiet relief, as I know that I shouldn't have to endure any trails of this technicality and muddiness in any of my remaining races this fall. On the other hand, I was happy to have trekked through these splendid northern Michigan trails for the first time: the views, despite the overcast skies, were very scenic, and the difficult nature of the course was an excellent strength builder. I was also happy that, upon finishing, my legs were in fine shape (given the effort), and this allowed me to run another 20+ in Lapham Peak State Park on Sunday with good friends Brian Condon and Cassie Scallon. As a result, my weekend totaled 46+ miles of beautiful trails (and 86+ miles for the first six days of October)!
September, contrary to the formidable training I managed during the first week of October, was a lackluster month: I ran very few miles (~200 miles) and I had an unimpressive 50 mile race. The only perceived upshot from this is that I was able to rest after an enduring July and August. During October I'll be back to higher mileage and some racing (the first race of the month having been completed), and plenty of workouts, in preparation for an important month of November, where I'll run two national class races in just two weeks. Next blogpost, I plan to discuss the art of tapering (link HERE when available).
Photos from the past week(end):
|Beautiful foliage near the Wisconsin/Michigan border.|
|Atop the biggest climb on the course, the evening before the marathon.|
|Scenic Michigan shoreline along Lake Superior.|
|Pre-20 miles with Brian Condon and Cassie Scallon.|
|Refilling at the spring.|
|Enjoying the Ice Age Trail.|
|Taking in the views on Lapham Peak.|
|Catching some miles with Cassie and Matt Flaherty earlier in the week.|
|Gettin' our Sense Mantra on.|
|Doing cider things with a good friend.|