Chippewa 50k: Kettle on the mind

Chippewa 50k  4/23/16

“You’re nuts,” said John Storkamp as we crossed paths on the trail.  I considered this quite a compliment coming from a guy who had recently notched his 100th marathon/ultra finish.  Just two weeks after Zumbro, my legs had yet to really shake out.  I figured running this 50k might be the best way to get things moving forward again.?

It was an absolutely beautiful day for a trail run, and the setting at Chippewa Moraine is so serene.  The race follows the Ice Age National Scenic Trail out and back from the David R. Obey Ice Age Interpretive Center.  I first took part in the race a year ago, as an aid station volunteer with Break the Stigma (now Defeat the Stigma), a non-profit organization that uses running as an avenue to open up conversations about mental health issues.  That was my first experience as an aid station volunteer.  I had a really good time and made some new friends.  The parts of the trail I saw that day looked so appealing; I wanted to come back and experience the race as a participant.

So, even though I was far from feeling 100% on this day, I believed running the race was the right move.  I would go really easy on the front half, and pick it up on the way back if I was feeling it.  That was my plan.  Did I stick to it?  No.  After about 3 miles of easy running, Kari said she was going to slow down, but that I should continue, so what do I do?  Why, speed up of course, pummeling the trail for the next 10 miles or so, passing several tens of runners over that period.  The trail was just so inviting; it begged to be run, and my legs wanted to run!

Well, come the turnaround, the desire to run had mostly fizzled.  By the time I hit the 2nd to last aid station on the way back, where I’d been posted a year earlier, I accepted the fact that I’d be walking the last 10 miles to the finish.  A couple more hours of grinding it out.  Only, fate would have it that the grinding would soon be softened.

Ahead of me on the trail, I saw someone else who was running on fumes.  By this point, runners I had passed on the way out were returning the favor.  But this guy ahead of me was moving slower than I was, and looked to be in just as bad of shape.  As I moved around him, we got to chatting.  He asked me where the buff I was wearing was from.  It was from Zumbro 2013.  As we continued talking, we discovered that we had crossed paths at Zumbro two weeks earlier.  Aaron finished the 100 less than a half hour ahead of me.  He recalled following my Altras up the ascent just past the final aid station.  How fitting it was that we would be walking in the final miles of this race together!

As we continued on the trail, we shared stories.  Zumbro was Aaron’s first 100 miler, which he’d gone into on something of a whim, originally having planned for Chippewa to be his first race of the season.  Sounds like my kind of guy.  Having the company seemed immediately to lessen the strain and ease the miles.  Near the end of our trek, Aaron even admitted that he had been strongly considering dropping out and walking back on the road, before I had come along.  We crossed the finish line together in a time of 6:28, well off the 5:45 I ran last year at Afton.  For a good part of the day, I was fully expecting to make that time.  Lol!

I took a seat on the hill and cracked an Indeed.  It was time to “Let it Ride”.  The stream of finishers was pretty consistent.  Kari came in about a half hour after me.  We spent the next two hours relaxing and visiting while watching runners finish, before departing for home.  It was a good day on a great trail.  Many thanks to the race organizers, volunteers, and runners.  I’m sure I picked up some vital pieces of information that will serve me in my continued pursuit to be gnarly.  One final note; I think they might have run out of T-shirts before I finished, but I checked the results, and for the record, I did beat Maria Barton!



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