Latest reviews by Ben Lamers

(2020)
"Glacial 50k"
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The Glacial 50 is run pretty much entirely on a portion of the Ice Age Trail (which runs in total over 1,000 miles in Wisconsin). The race starts in the town of Greenbush, and heads south on the IAT through the Greenbush segment, the Parnell segment, and the New Fane segment (for the 50 mile).

This year (because 2020) there was only packet pickup offered the morning of the race. As with most packet-pickups it was pretty easy. Grab your bag, bib, and race shirt (a dope 1/4 zip) and that's that. There are indoor bathroom at pickup as well. And because this is an ultra, the lines aren't too long because there aren't as many people.

If you've run an ultra before, you can accurately envision the start. Gather in the middle of the street, race director says "Go" and the race starts. Pretty straightforward. The first half mile (roughly) of the race heads through the town of Greenbush before you hop on the trails for the rest of the way.

The first part of trails, a connector to the IAT, is pretty chill with lots of runnable double track. A good way to ease in to the race. After about 1.5 miles, you hit the IAT and it's almost all single track from here. The Greenbush segment is somewhat technical, but an overall very runnable segment. Obviously, you've got your rocks and roots. Just past Mile 6, you'll hit a straighter (and mostly flat) shot of double track grass which takes you to Hwy 67, the first Aid Station, and the start of the Parnell segment.

The Parnell segment (on the way out) starts with a small gradual downhill on extremely runnable dirt. Enjoy this for the few miles, because it's the last smooth, gradual, downhill you'll really have. As a whole, the Parnell segment is known for being extremely technical and hilly. No massive hills, just unrelenting. You'll more or less roll on the rocky hills until about Mile 12 when you hit a steeper downhill on grass (don't worry, you get to run up that later) and a nice stretch back through a prairie. This ultimately takes you to some stairs which you descend to the next aid station just past 13 miles.

For this Aid Station, you have the option of a drop bag being there for you as well. Would highly recommend.

For the 50k, you only have about 2 miles further down the Parnell segment to get to the turnaround. It's majority downhill to the turn, which means it's majority up back to the Aid Station.

It's back through Parnell again from here. I would argue that the toughest parts of Parnell on the way out are slightly easier on the way back. Slightly. But the luxurious slight downhill on the north side of the segment means it's a slight uphill on the way back.

You run Parnell back to Hwy 67, which is the first/last Aid Station. From here it's a little over 6 back through Greenbush to the finish. All those hills you felt great on at the start will, likely, feel a lot less great this time around. Never had I been so thankful to get back to that grassy double track.

Hop off the trail, and it's roads back through town to the start/finish!

As I mentioned above, the 1/4 zip for the race is super nice. You'll get a clay(?) medal for finishing, and top finishers (top 5 or 10...I'm unsure) receive a handmade mug as well. There's food, beer, and everything you'd expect at the finish.

Let's not forget about the fact that you're running through the woods in a Wisconsin Fall. The colors are AMAZING. A few portions were a sea of yellow. Almost like you added a yellow color filter to a picture, but real life obvi.

Highly, highly recommend this race.

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(2020)
"DoLittle Marathon"
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The DoLittle Marathon is one of a few Full (and shorter distances) options in SE Wisconsin in the Fall. It’s always sometime in September, but the date varies. This year, it was on Labor Day weekend. Usually the race is in Waukesha and is an out and back in the Glacial Drumlin bike path.

However, 2020 isn’t normal, so adjustments were made. Instead the race moved to Oconomowoc (another suburb of Milwaukee) and would be on the Lake Country bike trail. Needing a smaller footprint the race had a 5k turnaround, 1 full out and back for the 10k, 2 for the Half, and 4 for the Full. There were no official aid stations, but runners were able to have their own water/gels/whatever at a bag drop at mile 2/4 and at the start/finish.

The race started at the north side of Roosevelt Park, making parking ridiculously easy as there is ample street parking on that side of the park. Packet pickup was near the start (I picked up my stuff on Friday) and allegedly there was a bathroom over there. There’s also a bathroom on the south side of the park.

It was rainy and windy at the start of the rain, so most everyone waited until the last possible minute to lineup. In 2020, Silver Circle Sports (event organizers) have been doing a spaced out staggered start, or a wave start if you will. So everyone lined up, and away we went.

The Lake Country trail is your standard bike path. South for about 1.5 miles, then a turn East, then one more short turn south. Turn around, and do it all in reverse. It’s a fairly open trail, so on a windy day (which we had) you really get buffeted around depending on direction you’re running vs wind. Fortunately, it wasn’t sunny because you can forget about shade.

Doing the Full, I had four out and backs waiting for me. Personally, I kind of liked this because it broke down the race easier (for me) and you get a chance to see everyone else multiple times in the race. I should note that only the Full and Half were on Sunday, while the 5k, 10k, and another Half ran on Saturday.

If you’re someone who needs to feed off of other runners or crowds, this race wouldn’t be your cup of tea. Especially this year. But it’s a smaller race on a flat course.

As always, SCSE puts on an amazing event, even with the curveballs COVID has thrown. I can probably speak for everyone at the race and say a big THANK YOU to them for being able and willing to host an in-person Marathon, and a bunch of other events, this year.

All in all, the DoLittle is a smaller race (usually a BQ Certified race on the standard course) that has everything you need from a Marathon. Oh, and it’s flat AF.

Overall, a great race and experience

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(2020)
"Flannel 5k"
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The Flannel 5k is the 6th race in the Chilly Willy Winter Series (and what turned out to be the last one this year).

If you’ve run the entire series, this one takes you back to Menomonee Park (where the first series race was) which is one of the Waukesha County Parks.

Packet pickup was only at the venue on race morning. But with a roomy building, this wasn’t at all an issue. All of the races in this series have a building for before and after the race.

The course is one of my favorites of the series. It effectively makes a loop around the park, with an out at back in the first mile to get the distance. And that out and back is where the hills are in this race. But you get them out of the way, so the rest is smooth sailing. The 10k does the loop twice.

Overall it’s a simple course. You do a loop through a county park. And there are no other roads so it’s virtually impossible to get lost.

Parking can be a little tricky for this one. There is a lot right at the building and start/finish line, but it fills up fairly quick. There are other lots in the park, though, just be prepared to walk a little ways to the start.

Like all of the Chilly Willy races, the post race features a hot chocolate bar as well as beer from local brewery Brewfinity. This year also featured the addition of a post race chili cook-off which I was all about.

As with all of Silver Circle Sports races, this was incredibly organized. You can’t go wrong entering one of these

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(2020)
"Brand New Race"
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The Souper Bowl 5k was a new inclusion to the Chilly Willy Series this year, and also a new race altogether. As you might imagine, it took place the morning of the Super Bowl, and encouraged runners to bring a can of soup to donate to a local shelter.

If you run the entire Chilly Willy Series, this was your second race in three weeks at Frame Park. The drill was the same, two loops of the path, and keep the river on your left. For the Souper Bowl, the race had the start/finish at the pavilion, meaning the course was a bit longer than a 5k, but who cares.

For those who don’t know, Frame Park is probably the flattest race course you’ll run. Since it only goes right along the River, there are no hills to speak of. The paths are nicely cleared and salted by the city, so traction wasn’t an issue at all.

Packet pickup was only at the venue for this race. Very quick process even with everyone doing it morning of. The entire series also offers indoor areas before the race, and this building doubles as the Parks and Rec building in Waukesha so there’s plenty of space.

The post race features both a hot chocolate bar as well as beer from local brewery Brewfinity. Results are almost instant, and runners can get them simply by scanning a QR code.

Silver Circle Sports always puts on a great event, and even a first time race like this one is no exception

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(2020)
"New Venue, New Owners"
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The Cupid Shuffle was the 5th (and as it turned out...last) race of the WI Winter Run Series.

Like other races in the series, with new ownership came a change of location. This year, the race was just north of Milwaukee in the suburb of Glendale.

Much like with the other races in the series, packet pickup was either the day before the Performance Running Outfitters or at the venue the morning of.

With the race starting at a Bierhaus, I wasn’t sure what the parking would entail, but there was plenty of it. Easy parking, and tons of space inside the venue before the race started. In fact, the Bierhaus was already serving in case you wanted a pre-race beer (not gonna lie, it was tempting).

The most interesting part of this race, I thought, was that the 5k and 10k were totally different. The 10k would do an out and back north on the Oak Leaf Trail, while the 5k did the same thing, but south.

Overall, despite it having snowed during the week, the Oak Leaf was was cleared, except for a couple slick spots. As you’d imagine for a bike path, this course is super flat. The only issue with having an out and back on a bike path becomes the spacing. When you have runners going both directions, it gets a little crowded on the path.

The results, per the usual, were a little bit of a cluster. Delayed and hidden in the basement of the building. I was think it shouldn’t be that hard to pump out the results, but I guess it is at this series.

For everything else, it’s rinse, wash, repeat. Soft cotton shirts, beer that isn’t redeemable at the race, and medals for all finishers.

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