I signed up for a couple of the UMTR trail running race series this year, and because of that, I’m filling my year with whatever races I can fit in. The regular trail race series consists of smaller races around the area, and since I just ran Zumbro 50, and will be running the Superior 50K in a few weeks, I opted for the shorter 10K race at Chippewa.
The only real downside to this race for me is the distance from where I live. Originally my wife was going to join me and run the 10K as well, but she had a scheduling conflict. I decided to go anyway, despite the fact that it meant 4 hours of driving for a 7 mile race that would take me an hour and twenty minutes to complete. It was a beautiful morning, so the driving wasn’t that unpleasant anyway.
I arrived to the park headquarters about thirty minutes before the start of the 50K race. I got a chance to see a lot of my friends, including Wendi, Janet, John and Jeff, as well as others. I brought my good camera with me to take some pics before my race, so I lined up with the starting corral and got a nice series of shots of people launching out of the gate (yesterday’s post). Once the 50K runners were off and running I headed to my car to put my camera away and get ready.
On the way I ran into Bill, and he and I got a chance to chat a bit before the race kicked off. He was also only doing the 10K, as he was still recovering from a 100 mile treadmill run this winter, and being sick. I helped him with getting people gathered for the UMTR picture with our banner, and then it was time to get to the starting line.
There we about 130 people running the 10K, but it didn’t feel crowded at the start. We launched a couple minutes before 9am, and began the big descent from start/finish, to the small trail that loops us back around to join the main Ice Age Trail. The downhill and prairie sections were pretty runnable, and I managed a nice sub-11 minutes time for the first mile. That is pretty good for me on trails, so I decided to start running up as many hills as I could to keep up a strong pace.
The first part of the trail makes a spiral and at one point you come close to the visitor center again. With the weather warming up, and shelter from the wind in the trees, I took advantage of being close to spectators. I tossed my outer, long-sleeve, shirt to someone in the crowd and yelled at them to please hang it on a tree nearby. I was feeling good about my pace, and decided to push a bit to see what I could do on some of the upcoming hills.
The course itself is very forgiving. There are a fair number of roots and rocks, but it’s nothing like what you experience at Zumbro or Superior. This meant that I could take a few more chances with my footing. But even an easier trail doesn’t mean you’re never going to trip. Twice in the run I found myself catching myself as my body flailed forward. The second time it actually hurt me a little bit to try and catch myself from falling. I managed to never hit the dirt, so I’m proud of that, but who knows how many muscles I tore by trying to force my body to stay upright.
By the time mile 3 had hit I was in a good rhythm, and I was picking people out that I wanted to beat. I focused on a few rabbits, but lost one of them when I stopped for a quick swig of water at the only aid station on the 10K course. Eventually, I managed to pick off a couple people, but as I got close to the finish, I teamed up with another UMTR lady to help get us through the big final hill that we climbed down at the start.
For anyone considering this race, you should know that the first hill sucks. There’s no kind way to put it, that thing is super hard and demoralizing. Climbing to a finish line is never a lot of fun. Especially when you’re feeling good all race, and just can’t manage to run up it.
I crossed the finish in 1:20, and felt really good about my time. I lost a couple minutes on mile 5, but I was pleased with how I managed to get back to it at the end. My best 10K time ever, is just under 60 minutes, so running a 7 mile on trails, with a few hills, in the time I managed is pretty OK with me. I then proceeded to grab some water, and my favorite after race snack, salted nut rolls.
I hung around the finish for a while at the end, and chatted with a few folks. Eventually, I decided that I had better start the drive home and get it over with. The other bonus of races in Wisconsin is that you have an excuse to pick up some New Glarus beer while you’re over the border. I love some of their beers, and couldn’t pass up the chance to grab some to bring home.
My overall experience at the Chippewa 10K was positive, and I can see why people really like running this trail. It’s fun, with some technical portions, but it’s not relentless like Superior. You have to watch your feet, and keep your wits about you, but it’s mostly all runnable. Perhaps next year I’ll use this as an early Spring 50K to kick off my season. It was a lot of fun, and a beautiful day to spend out in the woods.