It’s a fairly brutal race. There’s not much climbing, but it tempts you to run fast, which can take its toll later on.
It goes through Hell, Michigan, too.
It also goes off trail. The trail markers are hung on trees and it’s up to the runners to pick their route through the woods.
This year something rather common happened – someone vandalized the course markings, moving them and leading the runners into a dead end gully. Our group spread out, climbing hills in search of the legitimate markings.
The run course also took us off trail and into some rivers. After finishing the race I found shards of broken freshwater clams shells in my shoes (ouch) and a couple complete shells embedded on the bottom of my shoes.
I clearly hadn’t recovered from running 100 miles at Leadville a month earlier, but I didn’t feel too bad. I bruised both heels after aggressively running downhill which came back to haunt me as the miles piled up.
I also tried a couple new products in anticipation of maybe using them at Leadville next year.
First, I used some Dirty Girl Gaiters. The goal was to keep sticks and stones out of my shoes. They didn’t work. The Velcro attachments didn’t stick on the shoes. I’ll try them again and see if I can’t improve that Velcro attachment. They just might not work at crazy races like this.
Second, instead of my Nathan running pack, I used a handheld water bottle from Amphipod. The aid stations aren’t too far apart so a single water bottle works well. I also was able to keep some gels stashed in the pocket. I’d need to use two of these at Leadville and I’m not sure where I’d carry my emergency clothing. But as the weather at Leadville seems to be getting warmer, I’d rather stay cooler by not wearing a pack.