"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Beginning of the UMTR and Fab 5 Fifties

Yesterday, the Upper Midwest Trail Runners (UMTR) adopted its by-laws and became a going concern. They made me a board member and agreed to a plan for a series of ultramarathon trail races, the "Fab 5 Fifties." There will be official websites created for both, but until then, I'm willing to answer questions about them here.

Briefly, the series will 50 kilometer and 50 mile races and one's two best 50 milers and three best 50K's will be counted. I'll leave the scoring, entry info and other details for the official site. Pending approval of the race directors, the races will be:

50K: Chippewa Moraine, Trail Mix, Ice Age, Superior, Afton, Lean Horse and Glacial Trail.

50 Mile: Ice Age, Voyageur, Lean Horse, Superior Sawtooth 100 (50.5 mile split),
Superior Trail 50, Glacial Trail

By coincidence, it's possible to run all one's five races in Wisconsin or all in Minnesota.
(With apologies to Robert Frost) "Two paths diverged in a yellow wood and I took the road less traveled; that's the way course markings always go."

Most of this site will be devoted to my own training.
I'm going to try to run all of the series races, plus a few others. My schedule looks like:

April 12 Chippewa Moraine 50K
April 19 Trail Mix 50K
May 10 Ice Age 50M
May 17 Superior Trail 50K
June 7 Kettle Moraine 100M
July 5 Afton 50K
July 12 Half-Voyageur Marathon
July 26 Voyageur 50M
Aug. 23 Lean Horse 50K
Sep. 5 Superior Sawtooth 100M
Oct. 11 Glacial Trail 50M

That's more than 500 miles of trails! I'm no dirt-munching mileage junkie, either. My idea of a "technical" course involves negotiating a curb. I don't own a headlamp, don't live on gels and S-Caps and don't even have a decent pair of trail shoes. Add to that that I'm always injured or ill (I have a cold as I write this), and it should be quite an adventure.

I'll try to post weekly, update everyone on the series as it develops and, if you keep reading, I'll keep running.


phillip said...

You'll be a great Coordinator for the series.
The Fab 5 Fifties, with its Midwest reach, should be a terrific partner to the Minnesota Trail Running series, too.

One question: what are you going to be doing with all of that free time next summer :)

Phillip Gary Smith

keith said...

Woo Hoo! That's awesome news! Looking forward to picking some of those races for '08!

That is one lofty goal you've set up there. I can't wait to see more about how you train for all those races!

If your performance at the RTA was any indication you'll be giving a lot of runners a lot of runs for their money.

northwoods bryan said...

That is awesome. Glad to finally see the solid info on the Fab 5 50's. Now to see if I can actually run them...

Nice to see the new blog too. I hope this one won't be too focused on running to include dissertations on orthographic analysis and comparative physiology.

When you refer to being sick, are you including having the sick desire to run brutal ultras on back-to-back weekends? ;D

Runner Brewer said...


Great to see the blog. I will right behind you in some of those race (at least at the start).

I have a cure to your ailments... Layoff the beer and ice cream. On second thought, those are performance enhancers in my book.

In regards to the UMTR, my first thougth was that quote from Annie Hall
"I would not want to be part of a group who would have me as a member"

Can I be the Brewer Lariat for the group? Or did you already call dibs on that?

Andrew said...


I ran with you, assuming there is only one by your name, at North High, I think you graduated a year before me. I thought you were a little nuts then but looking at your proposed race schedule you are certifiably crazy. Really I'm just a little jealous as I can only seem to fit in a couple races a year. Hopefully we can catch up at a FA if there happens to be one on a weekend I'm around.

northwoods bryan said...

Lean Horse seems pretty out-of-the-way compared to all the other races. Is there a western South Dakota constituency in the new UMTR?

Kel said...

So, tell us about your new favorite trail where the uphills require using one's hands.....

SteveQ said...

Wow, lots of comments!

Matt, you're a much better brewer than I am; if you supply me with barleywines, call yourself whatever you want.

Kel, I should've known a rock climber would wonder where the steep slopes are. I was running the river bluffs at Indian Mounds Park in St. Paul - some places are illegal, some impossible to run, the rest are just ludicrous. The only photo I can find:

Anyone know how to hot button a link in the comments section?

Bryan, Lean Horse was added to make sure there was something outside Minnesota and Wisconsin. There are few reliable races in Iowa or the Dakotas. It helps that it's in August, which is otherwise pretty dull. It's not much further from the Twin Cities than the Glacial Trail, which is near Milwaukee (or is it?)

Yes, Andrew, I went to North and I was (and am) weird. The only Andrew I can come up with was Scobbie, who I don't remember ever running.

northwoods bryan said...

Just slightly farther - google maps says Minneapolis to La Grange, WI (Ice Age Trail) is 313 miles, while Minneapolis to Hot Springs, SD (Lean Horse) is 660 miles. By comparison, McNaughton (Pekin, Illinois) is 463 miles from mpls.

On the other hand, like you said, Lean Horse is in an otherwise gap in the calendar while McNaughton coincides with Chippewa Moraine in '08... though apparently Wynn is moving future editions of the CM 50K for just that reason.