Fun! Fun! Fun!
I was kinda dreading this race on Saturday given the weather forecast (rain/snow mix with high winds) and the driving rain/sleet pelting my windows all night long on Friday evening. The sound of the sleet and rain kept waking me up, and I kept thinking "I've gotta get up and run in this stuff in a few hours." I was pleasantly surprised to see sunshine on Saturday morning! Drove up to Milaca and got there in plenty of time for the 10 am start. Ended up sitting in my car for a little bit just to stay out of the cold wind. Ran into Bryan, Wayne and Kate before the start, and learned that we have another taker or two for the Minnesota Trail Race Series!
I'd never run this race before, so I was listening intently to the race director give incredibly detailed descriptions about the course. Basically, tie your shoes tight so you don't lose them in the mud, there is some deep water in places (should I have brought a snorkel?), tight switchbacks, etc. His descriptions were spot on! We were led across a bridge over the Rum River to the start on a dirt road before heading up a short, steep, muddy bank into single track in the woods. Not terribly technical, but there were a few roots and rocks tripping people up. The tight turns made it difficult to run very fast, but I was just enjoying my romp through the woods.
A jump over a small stream (I didn't quite make it), flat trek around the reservoir, and back into more single track in the woods for some serious....and I mean serious....shoe stealing mud. Noticed a pair of abandoned sneakers laying to the side of the trail shortly after a bridge crossing. More mud. Knee deep water on top of the mud. Pretty tough to run at all in this slop. Noticed an occupied bald eagle nest at the half way point - very cool. More tight turns in ankle deep mud. This was fun - like being a kid again! Eventually we came out into a pine forest and then a clearing along the Rum River where Wayne had come back to cheer us on after finishing himself. Over another bridge and into the finish.
In addition to Bryan, Wayne, and Kate, I ran into Steve and Keith after the race. We were all huddled trying to stay out of the wind as the race director announced winners for each age group and distributed door prizes. Keith scored some home made pecan chocolate bark, Wayne got a martini mix, and Kate got the coveted pink garden hose. Unfortunately, Steve rolled his ankle pretty bad and will be forced to taper for next weeks 50 miler at Ice Age Trail - hope he is a fast healer. Jean won awards for men, women, and door prizes but must have bailed before the post race festivities got started. He has a picture of his socks after the race on his blog - that's what my socks looked like AFTER I did laundry (did I mention it was muddy?).
The volunteers were top notch and well prepared. This was really a fun little race and I will definately be back! Congratulations to RD John O and his crew for a great Runnin' in the Ruff!