The North Face Endurance Challange is a series of 5 race events across the United States.
This year was the second North Face Endurance Challenge Midwest Regional.
All events at the Midwest Regional start and end at Ottawa Lake, about 20 minutes west of Waukesha. The marathon course uses the Ice Age Hiking Trail, and the Moraine Ridge Horse/Snowmobile trail.
Running friend Dennis Hanna and I did the marathon.
Dennis and I went to packet pick up at Lacke and Joys on Thursday morning after our 16 mile trail run. We were smelly and punchy, and were on a typical roll of bantering. They had course maps on display, and I pointed to the marathon course, and said to Dennis "This is where you are going to get lost." When the woman giving out packets and perks wanted to know what size socks I wanted, asked if my feet were small. Dennis piped in "Her feet are UGLY." For the record, Dennis did not get lost, but my feet are indeed ugly.
The event also hosted a 50 mile run, which started at 5am, and a 50K which started at 7am. Our marathon started at 9am. It was very weird to set the alarm for 7am on a marathon morning.
At 5am, I awoke to sounds of thunder and pouring rain. I turned on the weather channel to see lots of yellow and red on the radar over the course area. I knew a couple people running the 50 mile, and wondered if they were delaying the start. I soon found out through the magic of the internet that they did start on time.
Dennis and I arrived at the start about 8am. As we waited for the start, we chatted with Mary Gorski, who just finished the Superior 50 miler last weekend. She was volunteering as a sweeper for the marathon. She was in a very entertaining mood, and we had a lot of good laughs, and enjoyed some friendly razzing.
Dennis and I ran the first 3 miles together. Shortly after the start, we got some rain and a little hail. It only lasted a few miles, but between the earlier rains, and these, we had plenty of mud. Slip-sliding, goey, shoe grabbing mud and huge puddles. In the marsh, the area notorious for flooding, I ended up in mud almost to my knee. My shoe briefly considered staying at the bottom, but I was able to coax it out and keep both shoes on.
Around mile 18, I was treated to a surprise visit by Webmaster Bill. He hadn't planned on coming to this race for photos, but with the rainy weather, his plans to photograph another race were scrapped.
I finished comfortably with a 4:05, which was third female, and I won a backpack style hydration pack from North Face. The awards were give out by Dean Karnazes, and I got my picture with him. How cool is that!
After Dennis finished with a 5:01, we enjoyed our post race meal, chatted with Bill and some other runners, and washed our muddy legs off in Ottawa Lake.
Race perks included a tech shirt that was not only small enough, but I needed a Large. We also got a cinch sack, socks, lip balm and Gu Chomps. Post race food included pulled pork sandwiches, soup, chili, salad, cookies and beer.