Saturday, October 18, 2008

Date for the 2009 running of the Wild Duluth Races?

Another important discussion that I'd like to include my running friends in is the date for next years (and future years) Wild Duluth Races.  We're planning on offering 50k and 100K distances and possibly a half marathon distance as well.  The date for this year's beta run was really bad - it conflicted with Glacial Trail ultras, Whistletop Marathon in nearby Asland, WI and an early season weekend deer hunt that was near the course.  All three things conspiring to make the chosen date really poor.  But, it was the only weekend in October that worked for us so that was it.

October is a pretty busy month on the race calendar unfortunately.  First weekend in October - Twin Cities Marathon.  Second weekend in October - Glacial Trail 50k/50 mile, Whistestop Marathon.  Third weekend in October - Nerstrand Big Woods Trail races.  Fourth weekend in October - this year North Face 50 mile in Wisconsin (next year maybe nothing on this date).  If we go to the last weekend in September we then conflict with In Yan Teopa 10 mile trail run.  Let me know if I'm missing any races here.

Based on the above, it would appear that the fourth weekend in October may be the best date for next year's race.  If conflicting races were the only criteria, then yes, that's probably true.  However, I hesitate to run Wild Duluth so late in October due to potential for bad weather (snow, cold, ice, oh my!), the colors will no longer be spectacular like they were last weekend, and there will be leaves covering the trail and the possible hazards they present hidden underneath.  If it were up to me only, I would not choose the fourth weekend in October for the race.  I like the first weekend because we'll more likely have good weather and the colors are starting to get really nice on the hills by then.  This weekend is bad because of the conflict with Twin Cities (Sunday) and a big cross-country meet (Saturday) that our daughter will probably be running in for the next 5 years (and we don't want to miss).  The second weekend is great in Duluth, but will not work because of it's conflict with Glacial Trail primarily and also Whistlestop.  The third weekend is a possibility.  The liklihood of bad weather is certainly increasing at this point but many of the trees may still be holding their colorful leaves and we also could have a really nice day.  Nerstrand is a big trail race (around 800 runners last year).  Would a trail ultra like Wild Duluth be a major conflict to a shorter trail race like Nerstrand?  How many runners out there run Nerstrand now and wouldn't run Wild Duluth because you plan on running Nerstrand every year?  It's part of the MN Trail Series and the State Championship race this year and it's a bummer that we may have to conflict with this race.  Fourth weekend probably won't conflict with any races, but it's pretty late in the year for a race in Duluth.  What say you?

What about a switch of dates with another MN Trail Series race that occurs further to the south where weather may be warmer at the end of October?  Perhaps October isn't the best month for Wild Duluth.  Originally I had planned to run the race in August since there aren't too many ultras in August in the upper midwest.  However, August is a month when we're often on vacation and it may not work as well from a RD perspective.  Plus, you wouldn't believe how beautiful the Fall colors were last Saturday during the beta run of Wild Duluth unless you had been there.  It really was spectacular and would add a lot to the race.



  1. This is a really tough one... I would actually love to see it held in early to mid August as a warm up for a fall 100 miler. But I can see the appeal of October on that trail. My vote would be 3rd weekend. Big Woods is a great race but I don't think you'd take too many people away from that given the difference in distance.

  2. Third weekend was some of the talk I heard this weekend at the NMTC Hartley run.

  3. I guess I would vote for third weekend in October too. Late Sept not only conflicts with In Yan Teopa, but is only a few weeks after the fall Superior races. As Helen said - since the Nerstrand races are short (5K, 10K, half) and Wild Duluth will be long, I don't think your race would really steal that many runners from the Big Woods races. Another option would be to run Wild Duluth on Sunday so that people who really wanted to could do both (I know of at least 1 runner who does Whistlestop AND Glacial on the same weekend).

    We had a MN Trail Series race on the same day as one of the ultra races this year (Winona & Voyageur) and it didn't seem to cause any problems. There may be some folks who want to run the same races every year, but others would welcome trying a new trail.

    Personally, I'm planning on running Wild Duluth 50K next year - just let me know when ;)

  4. What was I thinking? Running Wild Duluth on Sunday wouldn't really work since there is also a 100K and many people would probably still be running on Monday morning. Bad idea!

  5. Sunday work for the 100K if you did a "Hellgate" and started at 12.01am :)

  6. As long as you're asking - the 3rd weekend gets my vote.

  7. Perhaps a weekend in August would work well. People could use it as a training run for a fall race, and the weather would likely be pretty good - not too hot hopefully. The Fall colors in October would indeed be stunning, but I could also see issues with wintery weather in late October. I would opt for a late summer date. Either way - thanks for making what I'm sure will come to be a wonderful trail race.