This was a race I had been looking forward to for the last 12 months. I ran the ½ marathon last year as a fun run coming back from two injuries. With a time of 2:30ish last year I knew had a serious ax to grind with this race. The Dances with Dirt Devils Lake course is described as being tough with some crazy stupid sections thrown in. It resembles a Q with a 3 mile single track, followed by a 7 mile loop, and finishing with the same 3 miles. What makes the course so awesome is that the first 3 miles are all climbing. Odd for
Wisconsin you say, well not when you consider the western half of WI is filled with bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River or other large lakes, such as Devil’s Lake. Once you complete the first 3 miles of climbing you enter the looped 7 miles of the course, there is a little more climbing in the first mile, then some actual scrambling up the side of a bluff, to get to the top for the amazing views. This is followed by a gradual descent back to the original 3 miles. This final 3 miles is now a screaming fast plunge filled with rocks and roots, buckle up because it’s a fun ride down.
I rode to this race with another Zach, this time Zach Otto, not Zach Bitter. We got there a bit early to meet his brother in law Mark, who had flown in from
to check out what Wisconsinites call crazy trails. While he was regaling us with stories of running with Hal Koerner and Jenn Shelton (she chicked him in his last marathon), I saw my friend Dave. Now Dave was supposed to be running the 50K, but he had separated his shoulder 4 days before, so following his doctor’s advice that he rest and not run the 50K he was running the ½, sounds acceptable to me. I decided I was going to try and perfect racing with VESPA during this race. After eating a breakfast of moderate protein, high fat, and a little carbs (fruit), I drank nothing but water for 3 hours prior to the start of the race. 45 minutes before the gun I took a VESPA JR and 1 S Cap. I stuck a gel in my shorts and 1 in my handheld as backup. Oregon
Pretty soon it was go time, we lined up, and I took a spot a little off the front. Mark however took a spot right on the line guess that’s what running with Jenn will do for your confidence. Off I went with the front 30-40 people, there were over 300 in the race, so I could get onto the single track climb with out a ton of walkers in front of me. Well that was the plan, but that pace at which the group was running was way faster than this ultra runner is used to 1 mile into a race. But we hit the single track and I started to climb. Still going at a ridiculous pace, because I was leading my little train, I actually began to pass people a little over 1 mile into the climb. This went on for the rest of the way to the loop. Once we hit the loop I fell in behind two College CC runners and realized, to their horror as well as mine, the loop was reversed this year so instead of a 2 mile climb and 5 mile gradual decent we would be climbing for the next 5 miles. Holy cow time to pack a lunch this just got fun! Well I pushed through the climb, managing to only body surf the trail once. Once we hit the bluff and its grand vista, I slowed my pace so I could enjoy the view without falling off the edge. To my surprise there was the individual I thought was leading the race performing yoga poses out on a rock, guess the view was too much for him! On with racing, a quick scramble on all fours down the bluff and I was back at the 3 mile monster decent. Yee haw time to let my HOKA’s fly, and fly they did. I managed to pass no less than 8 people in the first mile. I came screaming down the hill to the finish with a sub 2 hour time. Shortly after crossing the finish line I was told I placed in my age group, guess getting older has its benefits. For my award I got a sweet mini, indestructible, flashlight, and as much craft beer from the tappers as I could drink. I settled in and eagerly awaited the finish of all of my friends and fellow Lapham Peak Trail Runners who were attempting all of the distances.
|Tom Schiessl, Me, and Melinda Pedersen at the finish, up next where's the beer!|
Shirt - Sugoi PRO Race Team Jersey - Performance Running Ooutfitters PRO
Shorts - The North Face Better than Naked Split - PRO
Shoes - Hoka One One Stinson Evo B Trail - iRunFar.com
Calf Sleeves - CEP - PRO
Handheld Nathan bottle - PRO
VESPA - VESPA
Suceed Caps - PRO
Gels - PRO