April is the cruelest month
Wynn put on a great race, having complete mastery over the details in his first race as director. Only the weather refused to co-operate; a late season storm left 6-18 inches of snow and slush on what appeared to be a beautiful course, when one could take a moment to look up from watching one's step. Next year's race will be later in the spring, so Wynn's trying to control the weather as well. One year of bad weather can kill a race - I've seen it happen many times - but I expect this one will reach its entry limit early next year.
How not to run an ultra
I had a very bad race on a day of personal tragedy. I trained wrong, I dressed wrong, I raced wrong and I paid the price for my mistakes. But this day was not about me. I didn't even manage to fall in the water (that was Bruce, who just shrugged it off. That's ultrarunning!)
Check out Bryan's description of the race. It was his first ultra. His first ultra was a 50K so hard it took the winner (Joe Ziegenfuss) 5 hours to finish! On the car ride back home, he was marveling over how it didn't seem like 7 1/2 hours that he was there. Do you veterans remember that heady feeling, when you ran distances and times that you still couldn't quite conceive, before a marathon was just a training run?
Then compare Adam's description of the race. He led a good portion of the way, finishing second. When I listed my favorites for the race, I intentionally left his name out, though I knew he'd do well, given that he trained on a tough (and snowy) trail of his own devising and has a keen sense of his own abilities. I thought he'd do best if flying under the radar, which he won't be able to do much longer.
Speaking of runners getting notice, Helen won the women's race and it won't be her last win (look out Susan Donnelly at the Superior 100!) I discovered her blog by accident months before we met and thought then that she was someone to watch. When Wynn predicted the women's race to be between Rochelle and Meghan (Eve hadn't signed up yet), I sent him an e-mail saying Helen was a dark horse. It may be just a case of "a broken watch is right twice a day," but I'm glad I got that right. Helen caught me at the half-way point - I camped out there 15-20 minutes thawing a frostbitten toe and changing socks (what volunteers! I had a choice of footwear when I called out, asking if anyone had a spare set of woollies) - and saw Meghan, Karla and another woman were close behind her. I started off again, hard, passing 12-15 runners in a mile to catch up to Helen and give her a scouting report. She didn't need it. She was obviously running stronger than they were, so I dropped back to try to save my toe, camping out another 15-20 minutes at aid stations (thanks for the chemical hand-warmers, Kate!). I ran for a while with Meghan, who knew me by name, while I was trying to figure out who she was - talented, attractive women who speak to me is a short list - she must be a reader of this blog. [Hi, Meghan]
Wait, this isn't about me!
It's about Phillip, who snowshoed (yes, snowshoed in April) the course just under the 11 hour cut-off. It's about Matt, who vindicated the low heart rate training method, even if his 4:15 prediction was just a wee bit off. It's about the fringe dwellers of sport, those who leave the comfort of a warm bed for a romp in the woods, that merry band who revel in adversity and will tell tales of the slushfest that was the 2008 Chippewa Moraine 50K. I was just lucky to be there.