Monday, April 23, 2012

More MUDD - The Earth Day 50k trail race

Part three of MUDD it appears by my current titles but this time slightly different, maybe the same.

Earth Day 50k was held Sunday April 22nd at Veteran's Acres in Crystal Lake, Illinois. The race was put on by Michele Hartwig and her MUDD running group which I am a proud member of. For this race I volunteered and before I go on this was a first class event.

Originally I had wanted to run this 50k but my lack of training this mild winter (what is with that) meant plans changed. I offered Michele my services for race day and was assigned to be on the timing crew.

I arrived at VA early and helped do some set up at race HQ before joining the time crew. Michele had a great bunch of timers lead by Steve Conn. There was not really much to do besides call out numbers and times. This crew was well polished, as were the aid station crew, the cheerleaders and the course markers.

There was around 70 plus people including relay teams signed up for this first time event  and I think close to that number of volunteers.  The course was a small mile loop (tacked on to first main loop) and five six mile (main) loops for a total of 31 miles. Most of Chicagoland is flat but out in the northwest are some nice hills as I reported a few weeks ago. Most of each loop was single track with maybe 1% paved, 20% wider grass/dirt/gravel trails and plenty of hills, roots, rocks and a little mud but plenty of MUDD.

Majority of runners were trail and ultra vets but there was also a nice showing of ultra virgins including a couple of ladies who originally had signed up to do the relay together but challenged each other to do the whole thing (and they did), way to go Jenn and Carina.

Race started with the National anthem played on the trumpet. Some runners went out on a blazing pace. Trey Robinson took the win in around 3:43 which on that trail system is flying. I heard he ran a 2:34 at Chicago marathon last year. Trey was 30 minutes ahead of the 2nd place finisher John Kiser but should add John's time was inspiring as he was close to double Trey's age. Way to go John. The ladies had a three way battle for honors between Shelley Cook, Karen Webber and Sarah Jurgaitis with Shelley taking the win in 4:48. Results are here:

Each finisher was award an unique finisher "medal", a round piece of wood from VA with a medal  mounted on it. Race champs and age group winners won wood logs with a metal plaque mounted on it, the champs was actually craved into the wood. Very unique.

Every runner also got a goody bag with a few items from sponsor including INOV-8 and a great T shirt with a simple design that says "Earth Day 50k", see the photo at top. Both aid stations were well stocked with ultra staples and the start/finish line AS had a bakery worth of goodies thanks to a number of runners and volunteers who had kindly supplied some treats.

Later in the day I got to run a loop of the course with a couple volunteers/crew members. This course was so well marked it was just about impossible to get lost although I knew one runner who did. Each turn was marked with a pie plate arrow and red/orange flags but I guess if you wasn't paying attention or in the zone a turn could be missed.

This was a great great day. Michele, Dorn who designed the course and created the awards along with all the MUDDs did an awesome job. There was nothing but smiling faces all race long and some amazing efforts. Next year this race will either sell out in record time or Michele will have to increase the number of runners allowed to run , you've all been warned. MUDD Earth Day 50k is a winner

One of my favorite photos from the race. (borrowed from Carrie's FB album). All smiles and Gnomes.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Another MUDD run but without the mud

It's always fun to run a new trail and have some great tour guides to show one around. It doesn't happen very often but today was one of those great days when I ran a new trail system and had a few great friends run with.

Today I headed north to Crystal Lake to Sternes' Woods and Veteran's Acres. These are two connected systems with miles of single track, wider cross country ski/hiking and a paved trail. These trails are the training ground for the MUDD runners.

Without a guide or good knowledge you could easily get lost on the interwoven trails. I've in the past searched for maps of these trails and they are very limited and basically no existent for the single track . Maybe that is a good thing as I was about to find out some of the trails are very hilly, and narily. But then they make for a good training routes for experienced trail runnerss and even newbies with some care.

My guides for the run was MUDD and NLUR runners Carol and Julie. We would run into Dorn about 1.5 miles from the finish, so I had three great guides for the morning

Carol and I at Hobbit Hut

Julie and I at Hobbit Hut
 Carol decided we would run the Frosty 50k loop which was around 5.5 miles. I was just happy to follow the pair as it was all new to me and I had no idea where we was going. First was a gravel service road out of the parking area which was also the first hill. Over the course of the next hour we dived in and out of some great single track with climbs that are unknown in Chicagoland with roots and rocks a plenty. We took a detour to one of the only remaining "Hobbit" hut that had been built and promptly decided it would make a great aid station for Earth  Day 50k in two weeks. The photos above were taken on Julie's phone (sure she will not mind me borrowing them). Back onto the trails and the next stop was the infamous Possum Toll booth. A rather large tree had fallen across one of the trails a while back. It was so big that a chunk had to be cut out of it to allow trail access. More single track including up and over some hills with some eroded old trails that are so steep no uses them these days.

Around 1.5 miles to go we run into Mr 100 mile Dorn who's out for a leisurely 3+ hour run for time on his feet. Dorn as a few 50s and 100s to run this year. Carol was having a leg issue so took the wider track back to her car while Julie lead and Dorn following took me to Legbone trail. Apparently one of the MUDD runners had found a deer leg bone on the trail during a run. He moved the bone off the trail but somehow it was back in the same location the next day. I didn't see the leg bone but this was a nice stretch of single track that I was able to run relatively fast. I am sure Dorn has never ran so slow.

Finally back at the pavilion where we started. What a great trail system. I loved every minute of it and hope to run it again in two weeks during the Earth Day 50k which I'll be volunteering at. I said this was a new trail system  but I've spent some time at the pavilion twice before. I voluntered at the Northwest 5/10 mile trail race and also "helped" 3 MUDDs run 100 miles there last year but neither time did I get out on the trails, now I have.

A BIG thanks to Carol, Julie and Dorn for running with me. Also thanks to the MUDD and Queen MUDD Michele for all they do for the trails. I'll see you all in two weeks.