2012 Minnesota Voyageur Trail Ultra

This summer I went for a long run* with some buddies.

*Run – “an act or spell of running” (New American Oxford Dictionary)
*Run – “a continuous motion foot propulsion over uneven terrain including moving up the face of Spirit Mountain, over the avalanche of Jairo’s Beach, and through various streams and rivers. Normally includes battling over the power lines, skirting around porcupines, and singing songs at the top of your lungs to try to forget the feeling you have in your legs.” (New Voyageur’s International Dictionary of Running)

“Runnin’ on the Bunyan” 50 miler

On Saturday a group of us – Chris, Dad, Mike, and I – ran the Paul Bunyan Trail. It was what one may call a “long run.” Crystal dropped us off up in Hackensack at 7:15 am and then we started running home. In a way it was sort of like the old movie, Homeward Bound (in a non-animal kind of way). We faced rain, wind, hunger, sore legs, and plenty of whining.
Because of the distance we all packed camelback style backpacks. We carried water, goo packets, granola bars, beef jerky, and other essentials. We probably could have carried less water and just ran with our mouthes open since it rained for a few hours.

In Pine River we stopped at a gas station and raided their pizza and hotdog stand. I think the attendant thought we were joking, or crazy, or both, when we told her we were running to Brainerd.

At Nisswa, Chris’ brother-in-law donated a pizza from his Raffertys Pizza and we ate it along the trail. We would have eaten inside, but one of the members of the group smelled so badly we thought it would scare away business.

Mike picked up his bike in Nisswa and kept us going the last 13 miles. Running the Paul Bunyan Trail was a lot different than any other long runs we have done. It was easier than the Voyageur in Duluth because there were no real hills. It was harder, however, because it was on pavement the whole way. It also was a little disheartening when you could look down the path for miles and feel as though you were moving nowhere.

We finished at Dad and Mom’s place right about 4:40 pm. Crystal was out front with the traditional TP finish line. We all made it, sore and tired, but alive.

Duel In The Sun

Title: Duel In The Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America’s Greatest Marathon
by John Brant
Product Details
Paperback: 203 pages
Publisher: Rodal
Point: The greatest marathon that has ever been run on American soil by Americans was the 1982 Boston Marathon where Salazar and Beardsley ran each other into the ground to finish in 2:08:51 and 2:08:53.
Path: The author tells a captivating story by dividing the chapters into 2 minutes of the marathon followed by 2 years of background. Working through twenty chapters and the lives of two amazing runners, the story moves quickly. Intertwined with the story of the marathon is Beardsley’s addiction to pain killers and Salazar’s continuing depression.
Sources: The author has done his research with personal interviews, televised events, books, articles, and press releases.
Agreement: The story was captivating and inspiring. These are truly some of the greatest runners who have ever run. After finishing the book I thought, I could run a sub 5 minute mile!
Disagreement: Although the race was the highlight and capstone of both running careers, the life stories were quite discouraging. Both their depression and drug abuse were presented as hereditary problems. Both looked to drugs for escape. Salazar committed his life to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Beardsley committed his life to an ever recovering addict and his 12 step group. Neither realized the peace which could only be given through Christ.
Personal App: I was challenged by their drive to run. The internal fortitude to continue amidst the pain was impressive. But, I don’t run for the same reasons.
Stars: 2.5 out of 5
I would recommend this book to runners if Beardsley’s coach never spoke a word.

Voyageur Trail Run – an exercise in survival

On July 30th several of us ran one of the most difficult races we have ever encountered, The Minnesota Voyageur Trail Run. Every year for 30 years a crowd of crazies from around Minnesota and beyond have gathered to run over hill and dale (by “dale” I mean rocks, roots, streams, boulders, mud holes, ski hills, and clay slicks). They start the crowd moving around 7 am and then sit back and chuckle as the flood of fools hustle past with whoops, hollers, and grins on their fresh faces. Seven hours later the first of crowd emerges from the brush with sweat running down his face, cramps in his side, and a frighten look on his face as though he is being chased by Sasquatch’s brother.
This year, on the 30th anniversary, the race found three new participants. Dad, Chris Close, and I made the trip to Carlson, MN and joined the pack. The night before we feasted on spaghetti and power aid, topping the pre-race power up with campfire pies at Chris H’s campsite. We spent that night dozing in our tent at Jay Cooke Campground dreaming of the race’s highs and lows.
Five in the morning found us packing up our tent, lacing up our shoes, and jittery with nerves. We joined a few of the racers for a pancake breakfast which would supposedly hold one over during the following test of survival.
We started off after a few timely words from the race coordinator concerning those who drop out, have medical problems, or might get lost. The count down finished and the races took off. What followed was about 13 miles of great scenery and lively chatter, and then a whole lot more miles of misery. Until you run the race, you really can’t appreciate what one is tackling.
I, for one, had no idea what should be involved in preparing for a race of this scale. Not only must one know how to navigate trails with stream crossings and mud pits, but you must also know how to pace yourself, walk up hills, recharge while running down hills, and cleverly slip rocks into your running partners shoes so they have to slow down (this must be done in a secretive manner otherwise harsh words can be exchanged and cruel acts such as “adjusting” course markings can be employed).
Out of the 160 participants this year, about 50 had to drop out. I also know of one person in particular who seriously harbored thoughts of the same for nearly three hours (True store, but I won’t share who this may be for it would greatly damage my pride).
At the end, after the finish line had been crossed, the shoes pulled off my screaming feet, and more nutrients had been poured down my throat a strange happening occurred, I actually had a thought that started with “for next year’s race I am going to…” I’m telling you, they’re a bunch of crazies.

An article about the winner can be found here (FYI – it wasn’t me this year)

The Turkey Trot

This morning we were supposed to run the Turkey Trot 5k race. However, because it was only 4 degrees F, they canceled the race (see previous post). To spite them we ran it anyway. It was cold.

 Crystal did a good job even though it was tough to breathe through the multiple layers over the face. My glasses froze over so I couldn’t actually see where I was running. I think the ice made my lenses into magnifying glasses.

Chasing down deer

I read in a book awhile back that it is possible for a human to run longer and harder than a deer. Supposedly this is a hunting tactic which has been used in various tribes on the African continent (whether they starved to death or not was not recorded).
Because I like to run, and because I am not allowed to shoot firearms in the city limits of Edina, I thought I would try to “bring home the bacon” if you will (reading that final statement you may be thinking that a chunk of pork is my prey, but it is not. It may be easier to run down Porky the Pig, but I am going for venison).
So, as I was out running this afternoon I decided to try it out at the nearby Bredesen Park. I passed two deer on my first run around the park and then cut through the middle in order to select my future dinner. I ran up on a spiked buck and initiated the pursuit.
The whole hunt began on a good foot (unfortunately he had four of them and I only have two). I got within 15 feet of him before he popped his tail and began to taunt me with his carefree bounding. He would run up the trail until the curve and then wait for me to catch up, then resume his nonchalant hopping. This carried on for about 1/4 mile before another runner came from the other direction. This forced my venison stew to resort to a quick get-a-way into the swamp and leave me watching my dinner slop away.
I actually don’t know what I would have done if I would have caught him. Maybe jump on him?
I took three picture on the run with my phone. They weren’t his best side, so don’t look too closely.


The Long Run (Crystal’s point of view)

Wednesday was the big day that Seth had been waiting for! At 6:00 AM, Tim, Seth, and his dad took off to run the 40ish miles around the island. The rest of us tried to leave around 8:00 to drive after them and catch up to them to give them food, water, more sunscreen, Gu, etc. We ended up leaving later than planned because of the car situation. Nate was to drive a little jeep with Darla, the kids, and Cindy. His was an automatic. I was to drive a little red VW Bug (manual, of course) with Amanda, Heather, and Ben. To start things out, the car wouldn’t start at all, so we had to call in the owner of Hotel Aguilar to help. He lifted up the backseat, tweaked the battery, and got it going. Then, we couldn’t get it into reverse so I ran into a pretty flowery bush! (Later it looked like it was roped together so I hope that I didn’t kill it!) Finally, we made it out of the hotel parking lot and then we realized that we really needed gas so after taking the long route, we made it to the gas station while the jeep waited for us down the road. We got gas just fine, but then we realized that we still couldn’t figure out how to put it in reverse! So, we coasted backward a little, but not far enough to be able to drive out of the station. I was stuck and we tried but couldn’t get it to go into reverse. Pretty soon, we had people yelling at us and getting upset that we were not moving out of the way. Finally, amidst many nervous giggles, mostly Ben afraid for his life, I flagged down a pedestrian and asked if he knew how to put the car into reverse. I got out and he got in, and by this time Cindy had walked back to see if we were doing okay. The man couldn’t figure it out either, so all of a sudden, the man and three other gas attendants were circled around the car trying to get it to work. They finally did and we took off as fast as we could (which isn’t saying much), to continue on our trek. We decided that we were doing well as long as the bicyclists didn’t pass us. (One might have, if I remember correctly…) Anyway, we drove for a while around the island, enjoying the warm air and ride (except for the random speed bumps that almost did us in and the way that the car felt like it would lose pieces at any moment if we went over 60 kph or so. We finally got up to the guys running at about mile 20. We reapplied their sunscreen, gave them oranges to eat, and took down some of the quotes that they had been thinking. We drove on ahead to find a beach and look for sea glass while they continued on. By this time, we were figuring out the car pretty well, just as long as we didn’t have to make any tight turns. (When that did happen, Heather had to help me turn the steering wheel for lack of good old power steering.) We stopped at a beach for a while and then realized that the jeep had a flat tire so Nate went on ahead to try to get it fixed. That was just fine and dandy until we realized that the car keys were in Amanda’s bag, which was in the jeep. So, we were stranded out in the elements, (sun, tropical breeze, etc.) with no way to get anywhere. Well, when that happens, there isn’t a lot left to do but eat. So we did. After a long while, Nate made it back and we went on to Zulha beach to snorkel a little and wait for the guys to catch up. (Tim had stayed with us, so now it was just Seth and his dad). After they checked in with us and kept going, we ended up going back to the hotel as well, all fine and none worse the wear (except for maybe the bush and the car). What a day!


Running Apparel

I hate being cold. The worst part is cold hands and feet, and these are common when you are out running for 1 1/2-2 hours. Knowing this, my mom made me a pair of mittens made from a wool sweater and polar fleece. She wanted to make sure that my wrists stayed warm so she made them really long. I teased her that it will be just fine to run with my tank top and mittens. (They also double as sleeping bags for those really cold nights)