The 27th running of the Ice Age Trail 50 mile trail run took place on Saturday May 10th. We arrived in Elkhorn around 1pm and checked into the Crossroads Motel. It was about 10 minutes from the start area at the Nordic Trail. We then went out for lunch at Café Calabria. I think that’s what it was called. I had angel hair pasta tossed in olive oil with basil, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. It was pretty good. We then went to find our way to the start area so we would know how long it would take to get there in the morning. After that it was time to go to the Clausing Barn at Old World Wisconsin to pick up our race packet. I say race packet, but all it consisted of was the timing chip, number bib, and a t-shirt. The t-shirt was nice, just a small logo on the front and no advertising which seems to be typical for Badgerland Strider events. They had a nice display of race history including all the belt buckles from previous years. The buckle for this year wasn’t as nice as some earlier editions, but seeing it made me more determined than ever to get one. There was a photo of runners slogging through some nasty mud. I asked the guy setting up the display if we would see anything like that tomorrow. He said he sure as hell hoped not. That made two of us. Apparently the original route ran through a landfill. That’s where the photo was taken. For dinner we went to Sperino’s Little Italy. I think they specialize in pizza, but I had angel hair tossed in tomato basil sauce. It was ok. If I ever return to Elkhorn I’ll probably eat at Calabria again, but not Sperino’s.
I had not planned to eat breakfast. I don’t eat less than three hours before a race. I had hoped to sleep until almost 5 then dress and go run. I woke up at three, starving. I had some pretzel crisps with some peanut butter/honey spread. I got back in bed and dozed off for about 45 minutes. The morning air was pretty crisp. The TV was saying it was about 40 in Milwaukee. I was wearing shorts, a short sleeve t-shirt, gloves, and Moeben sleeves. I stayed in the car until about 10 minutes before the start. Standing at the start my teeth were chattering away. I couldn’t wait to start running to warm up. The first nine miles was a loop on the Nordic Trail. Along the way I noticed some frost in a few places. There were a few steep hills, but they were not very high. The Nordic Trail is a cross country skiing trail so it is wide and mostly very smooth surface. By the time I made it back to the start area it was starting to warm up, my hands were no longer numb so I ditched my gloves and sleeves at the car. I probably ran the 9 mile loop way too fast, about 10:35 per mile. I knew I wouldn’t keep that up for 50 miles, but I was feeling pretty good though so I didn’t worry about it too much. The southern out and back leg on the Ice Age Trail had some areas that were very easy on the feet, but also some very rocky sections that are typical of the Ice Age Trail. I carried a bottle and was filling it with Succeed at the aid stations. I don’t like it as much as Heed. By about mile 26 I couldn’t drink it anymore. So I switched to water. From mile 26 to mile 33 I felt pretty nauseous. I went for awhile with out taking in any Hammer Gels and fortunately the aid stations were close enough that I could sustain myself on the pretzels they had. By about mile 37 the nausea was mostly gone and I was able to take in some more gel. The northern out and back leg on the Ice Age Trail had some very rugged spots but also some smooth easy to run sections. After the turn around at mile 40 adrenaline started to kick in. I knew I’d finish. In my drop bag at mile 43.5 I had some espresso gels to carry me to the finish. The espresso gels taste great and the added kick of the caffeine doesn’t hurt. For the last 10 miles I ran all but the steep hills. I was really tired and wanted to walk, but kept telling myself that walking only prolonged the misery. The last aid station was 1.5 miles from the finish. I decided I was going to run all the way in. Well, there were a couple of short but very steep hills that put an end to that idea. Crossing the finish line was very emotional. It felt really good to complete a 50 miler, but also to finally be able to stop running. The time on the clock was 10:39:17. I’m very happy with that.
The Ice Age 50 Mile is a great run. There are some rugged sections and a few short hills, but also lots of smooth easy running. The aid stations are close together and well stocked. I probably could have run without a bottle. There was a nice meal at the finish. I had the bratwurst with sauerkraut and potato salad. Of course the conditions were nearly perfect. No rain, sunny skies most of the day. It rained all day Sunday so we were pretty lucky the run was on Saturday.