Monday, October 31, 2011

2011 Wild Duluth Race Report

100K Champion Chris Rubesch
The 3rd Annual Wild Duluth Races were once again blessed with spectacular weather.  Along with the great weather, we also had some great performances.

The Wild Duluth Races are run on the rugged and beautiful Superior Hiking Trail through the city of Duluth, MN.  Runners new to the city and trail are always amazed at the wild, rugged trail with its amazing views of Lake Superior and the city, rocky waterfall laden stream gorges, white pines and cliffs and rock outcroppings on points like Ely’s Peak.  All this within the city limits of a northern city of 80,000 people.  It’s a spectacular route that would make a tremendous race even if we as the race directors screwed everything up.  Fortunately, with our great volunteers, we just can’t screw things up too badly.

The 100K race starts before dawn from the start/finish line at Bayfront Park near downtown Duluth.  Runners make the big climb up to Enger Park from the start, winding their way up the hill through rocky outcroppings to the top, where they can ring the Japanese Peace Bell to signal their passing into the early morning light.  100K runners are treated to spectacular sunrises over Lake Superior shimmering far below them.

From the start, it was apparent that local runner Chris Rubesch was going for the win.  Not too far behind him, Duluth runner Christi Nowak was also running strongly with her machine like pace, not too fast, but never slowing. 

As the sun rose and 100K runners made their way to the turnaround at Oldenburg Point in Jay Cooke State Park, Rubesch continued to extend his lead.  He would run unchallenged on the day and finish with the fastest time on the newer course, which measures almost exactly 62 miles, for a satisfying win in 11:25:02.  Sean Andrish still holds the event record of 10:52:00 on a slightly shorter course from the inaugural race.  Ethan Richards would hang onto second for the men in 12:05:31 while Adam Scwartz-Lowe would finish off a strong season of racing with third place in a time of 12:11:00.

Christi Nowak steadily moved through the front runners to finish second overall and first
2nd place male Ethan Richards followed by 100k  women's champion Christi Nowak
woman in 12:05:31, breaking the course and event record by over two and one half hours.  Her time would have been good for second place overall in all three runnings of the Wild Duluth 100K.  Her 100K performance was truly phenomenal and another in a string of several wins for Christi in 2011.  Joy Parker would finish second for the women in 16:12:58 and Michelle Annandale from Manitoba would come home third in 16:17:44.  With nearly 60 starters in this years 100K race, the Wild Duluth 100K is becoming a destination race for many ultrarunners looking for an immensely challenging and satisfying 100K trail adventure.

In the companion 50K race, which starts at Oldenburg Point (the 100K turnaround) and ends at Bayfront, 119 runners were treated to sunny skies in the morning, windy conditions and perfect cool temperatures for running.

Another Duluth runner, Craig Hertz, took it out strong and maintained the pace to the finish line to win the race in 4:23:42.  Craig’s time would also be the fastest 50K on the new course with Wynn Davis holding the event record from the first year in 4:11.  Craig would then go out after the race to help man an aid station for the 100K race late into the night.  Matt Zak finished second for the men in 4:30:00 while Mark Rapacz was third overall in 4:41:49.

women's 50K champion Jenna Krueger
On the women’s side, Northern Minnesota runner Jenna Krueger held on to beat last years women’s champion Leslie Semler in 5:24:57.  Leslie finished in 5:30:11 for second, while Rochelle Wirth finished third in 5:51:50.

In the Harder 'n He!! Half Marathon which starts at the top of Spirit Mountain, almost 90 runners would make their way along the trail to the finish at Bayfront Park.  Tom Heinitz cruised in for the overall win in 1:53:57.  Less than two minutes later, first woman Michelle Jebsen, would finish off a spectacular race to finish in 1:55:19 and second overall, less than two minutes behind the overall winner.  Second in the men's race was Dave Pipho in 1:56:05 with Bob McGrath finishing third in 1:58:02.  Second for the women was Tara Croteau in 2:01:20 and third was Brenda Cid in 2:11:45.  Most half marathon runners would agree that the race did live up to its name.

Conversations among veteran ultrarunners at the finish line reached a consensus that the Wild Duluth 50K and 100K are the most difficult races at those distances in the Midwest.  If you disagree or don’t believe this general agreement, please join us on October 20, 2012 for the 4th running of the Wild Duluth races to experience the course for yourself.  We think you’ll probably agree with this assertion and that you’ll have a wonderful time in the process.  The weather is usually cool and perfect for running and the Fall colors are beautiful as well.  Wild Duluth has all the makings of a destination ultra.  We’d love to see some more top runners from the left and right coasts come over to join us and see what makes this course so special.  Immense thank you to our wonderful volunteers who were universally praised by our runners.  This race would not happen without you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

More Photos from Mark LaCore

Go HERE to view a photoset from Mark LaCore.  Most of these photos document the 50K.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Zach Pierce's Amazing 2011 Wild Duluth Photos Posted!

We at Wild Duluth and the trail running community in Minnesota in general are blessed to have Zach and Jen Pierce's amazing photos from so many races here in Minnesota.  We can't thank them enough for the photos they take of events throughout the state.  Local runners can't wait until Zach posts his photo sets to see if they might find a shot of themselves in the set (they usually do)

I think Zach may have the best set of photos of a race yet!  His shots this year included just about all of the 100K and 50K runners and were taken from Ely's Peak.  These photos should attract even more runners in years to come.  Click HERE for the link.  They are also updated on our Photos page.

We've been very lucky to have Zach and Jen a part of every one of our Wild Duluth races.  Thanks Zach!  Amazing shots again this year!

Date Set for 2012 Wild Duluth Races

Next year's Wild Duluth Races will take place on Saturday October 20, 2012.  Our races will not conflict with the Whistlestop Marathon as they did this year (yay!).  Whistlestop will be held the weekend prior to Wild Duluth.  Mark it on your calendars and hope to see you all there again in 2012! 

Online registration for next years races will be live on December 1, 2011.  There will be no field limits again for 2012.  However, we will be monitoring runner safety and logistics to determine if race limits may need to be imposed for future races.  Also, please note that we will have a registration cutoff date a few days prior to the race date.  There will no longer be race day registration.   Problems with lack of shirts and correct sizes and finisher awards in the half marathon due to late registration caused about the only headaches we had this year (primarily in the half).  So, be sure to remember to register at least a week in advance or you won't be able to register.  In anticipation of larger fields again next year, we will be in need of more volunteers as well.  Thanks!

Thank You to Grandma's Restaurant!

A big thank you to Grandma's Restaurant for sponsoring our races and providing a portion of the chili and soup served at this years event!  Looking forward to continuing our relationship with Grandma's in years to come!

Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 Results Updated

The results have been updated.  Only the half marathon results are unofficial.  Found and fixed the duplicate runner issue and found one missing runner.  The only result yet to be rectified is the missing runner in the half marathon that finished in 2:59:44.  If you finished around this time and don't see your name in the results, let us know.  Thanks!

2011 Wild Duluth Race Results Posted!

The 2011 Wild Duluth race results have been posted.  Check them out on the Results page.  100K and 50K results are official.  Half Marathon results are posted but unofficial.  We are still trying to sort out a missing runner who finished just under 3 hours in around 2:59:44.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another Great Day at Wild Duluth!

WOW! Another absolutely spectacular day at Wild Duluth yesterday! THANK YOU runners and volunteers for making all of the work so worth it! Seeing you all on your journey and your smiling faces at the finish line is amazing!
I’ll try to get the results posted tonight…if I can stay awake. Old school…

Fall Colors at Their Peak

The Fall colors are about at their peak right now.  They should still be beautiful next weekend.  Be aware that there will be a lot of leaves down on the trail as well covering up rocks and roots.  Just be careful out there.