This past weekend I was at the Spring Superior trail races which include a 50K, 25K, and a new 12.5K distance on the rugged and remote Superior Hiking Trail. This race has a special place in my heart as it was one of my best performing trail races after I transitioned from roads in 2015. I finished the race with my legs covered in mud, and loving every second of it.
Ever since those early races I’ve become more and more involved in this amazing trail running community in the Upper Midwest. One key aspect of this community is that you can’t go very far without running in to one of these four O.G.’s; Brian Landstrom, Harry Sloan, Dan Doty, and Jeff Goldstein. These guys are the originals. They have dozens of 100 mile, 50 mile, and 50K races under their belts spanning decades.
When I say that they’re the originals, that’s not an understatement. Harry Sloan was running Western States back in 1983, and was the first race director of the Superior 100 trail race, which has grown in to one of the biggest and best 100 mile races in the world. Brian, Dan, and Jeff have all been on the scene of the earliest Minnesota races, including the Voyageur 50 where legend Scott Jurek still holds the overall course record. In short, these guys have been around.
I’ve had the privilege of sharing miles with Jeff on multiple occasions, as we both run at Elm Creek Park. He’s an inspiration, and a tremendous trail mentor. If there’s something you need to know about trail running, he’s one of the best to ask. I’ve personally learned a tremendous amount from him, even on just a handful of runs together over the years. I’ve also had the honor of pacing Brian for a few miles at the Hitchcock 100. He’s not the kind of guy who usually needs a pacer, but when I was standing around after my runner came up injured, he let me drop in with him for a while.
The amazing thing about these four guys is that they’re often found together. After decades of running trail together, spending hours and hours in each other’s presence, they still manage to not get sick of each other. They’re trail people through and through, and they manage to continue to get the job done, year after year. This year was no exception with each of them completing the Spring Superior 50K, welcoming each other across the finish line.
It’s guys like this that I want to be like when I grow up. To be able to continue to do the thing I love for as long as these guys have been doing it, is a life goal of mine. As someone who came to this sport just over 3 years ago, I’ve got a long way to go. But, with amazing guys like this to look up to for inspiration, I feel like I might just have a shot to make it there.