- 50K, 50 miles, 100K, Other, Relay
- Trail Race
This race has quite the reputation. Spots fill up for this race right when the registration opens. I originally was going to run the 50 miler, but work got in the way of training. Luckily the race director let me transfer without charging me a transfer fee. The race offers packet pickup the day before the race or the morning of the race. I didn't arrive in Marquette until 11pm Friday night,so I opted for the morning pick up.
Before the start of the race, the race director gave a pre-race talk, explaining the conditions of the course and explaining what the different flag colors mean. After the talk, everyone lined up, the 50k and 50 milers together. The start of the race was at 5am, so we have about an hour and a half of darkness for the first loop.
The first loop was 11 miles and sadly you couldn't see the scenery because it was dark for the majority of it. It was neat to see all the lights and headlamps going through the switchbacks throughout the race. The entire first loop was single track with 1 aid station about 6 miles in. After the first aid station the path was very rooty and rocky. This section really slowed me down from the faster pace of the first 6 miles. The first loop brought us back to the start/finish area, where there was an aid station and drop bag.
The second loop is where the true elevation kicked in. There were several significant peaks to climb in the last 21 miles of the race. In between the peaks were some real nice straightaways to pick up speed. On top of each peak there were some "race officials" and sometimes a timing mat. The race officials were cheering everyone on and took people's pictures if they had their camera phones.
The hardest peak was definitely the last one, Hogback. This peak took some climbing, not just running or hiking. The peaks had to be taken at a much slower pace. This is definitely not a PR course. But if you want some of the most scenic and breathtaking views you can find in the mid-west, then this is the course for you.
The finish line was lined with spectators and a ton of people cheering as runners came in. They had a full spread of food-buritos, chips, water and soda. They also had computers set up to give you your race results right as you finished. They gave you a print out and then you showed it to the awards people. Instead of normal medals they had awards such as Bottle openers with the race logo and utility tools, and other such things for awards.
In the end, this was a great, well organized, and scenic race. This is definitely one of the most challenging ultra in the Midwest,because of the elevation and course conditions. I would definitely recommend this race to ultra runners looking for a good challenge.