Wild Duluth 2008 Race Report:
Early Saturday morning the sound of thunder and rain on rooftops woke many runners from their slumber. A few probably chose to stay under their warm covers to wait until next years official unveiling of the Wild Duluth 50 km and out-and-back 100km scheduled for October 2009. Those that made it to Chambers Grove Park in far west Duluth for this point-to-point 50km beta run to test the course and aid station placements, were rewarded with breaking clouds and golden sunlight through the colorful trees along the course. Rick Kucinski, first male finisher, remarked at the finish line that, “this was the best course that I’ve ever been on.”
Essentially the course is divided in thirds – the first third will engage one’s spirit with beautiful flowing singletrack along pine needle laden trail below towering white pines. The second crushes it beginning with the rock strewn climb to the summit of Ely’s Peak. The third enlists the spirit to soar as vista views on bluffs high above the City of Duluth lead to a welcome finish down at Bayfront Park adjoining Lake Superior. Second male finisher, Phillip Gary Smith, found the finish line in the shadow of the famous aerial lift bridge to be a fitting finale to a great day on the trail.
Duluth is covered to the east by this largest of inland fresh water oceans, Lake Superior. Gigantic Ore Vessels docking in huge unloading ports; crowds cheering at a football game far away, with the stadium in sight below; big sounds of steel-on-steel – all seen and heard while one is making way on the rugged Superior Hiking Trail. Runners found the juxtaposition of surroundings, the tough trail overlooking this bustling port city, a surreal experience. Kim Holak, first overall finisher and first woman, agreed that this course is spectacular and is sure to become a classic among upper Midwest ultras.
This account was compiled with the help of the runners in this beta run.