As most of you know by now, I’m on a quest to run a marathon in every state. And I’m on a budget. As a result, I’ve pretty much given up running races that are less than the 26.2 distance. I’ve also pretty much given up running marathons in state’s that I’ve already “checked off” unless the race is free. I pick races based on my (and Julie’s) calendar. I don’t stress about the course. Or the weather. Or the details. It’s an adventure. The bigger, the better. The more the merrier. Join me!!
We picked our Minnesota race because Julie said she wanted to knock off MN this year. I can’t say this was my first choice for MN because, well, we are road runners! But alas, it fit into our weekend warrior calendar and it was super affordable at a mere $35 entry fee. You absolutely can not beat trail races for the price, the hospitality, the fun and the level of commitment that they give to each and every runner. The Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon wins the TTF Award for the “Best Bang for the Buck” in 2015. I don’t even care that it’s only July. They already won. $35 entry fee = $1.34 per mile. Our race took forever 7 hours & 37 minutes = $4.60 per hour.
The aid stations were stocked with coke, ginger ale, sprite, powerade (BLUE!!!!), ice, ice water, pretzels, M&Ms, candy, fig newtons, sandwich cookies, frosted oatmeal cookies, gingersnap cookies, potato chips, watermelon, bananas, salt, salt capsules, and a ton of stuff that I can’t remember. I probably ate/drank more than the $35 entry fee.
There was also an army of volunteers who encouraged us, filled our water bottles, wiped our tears, recorded our numbers, pointed us in the right direction and handed us paper towels & wet wipes in case we needed to go to the bathroom clean up.
The race started promptly at 6am at the Lake Superior Zoo. There was no big start banner. No chip timing. No pomp. No circumstance. But there were people making announcements to get us in the right spot and there were bathrooms. Runners came to run and everything else is left on the trail.
The first 2.5-3 miles of the race climbed the ski trails of Spirit Mountain. Once we started hitting nice roads and fancy bridges we knew we were close to the top!
Then we started seeing the ski lifts and we came out of the trees for breathtaking views of Lake Superior in the early morning fog. Absolutely amazing.
The trail was very well marked with orange ribbons. I never once questioned our direction. Organizers spent a lot of time clearing trail for us rather than just using ordinary trails already cut in the parks through which we ran. There was a lot of planning to get us from Duluth to the finish in Carlton, MN on this point to point course. It was a creative path. A difficult one. Not the most technical of all that I’ve ran but extremely hard and probably the most fun so far (and that’s saying a lot cuz we ran the Dances with Dirt Devil’s Lake WI Extreme Trail Marathon last July). Take a peak at the various terrain from steep trails along ridges, to roped off trails to help us navigate the terrain & not fall …..
To hills, both up and down as far as the eyes could see.
Beautiful ferns. Bridges. Obstacles.
Water crossings. Mud. Roots. Rocks.
Every step of this was amazing. And hard. Very hard. But we smiled and laughed almost the entire 7.5+ hours. If you are a trail runner, the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon is a must. If you are an ultra runner, then this race is just a warm up for the MN Voyager 50 Mile Trail Ultramarathon at the end of July. Like what you see in these pics? Try the Voyager and you’ll get to run it twice.
As you know from the above post, we finished. And were happy to see the car and some clean clothes at the end of the race. To our surprise, we also received a very unique handmade finishers medallion and a gender specific soft, tee. Nice!
I’m forever grateful for the good friends I’ve made over the years while “on the run”. A special thanks to Julie for running some of these crazy races with me! I can’t wait til we tromp off into the woods for the next adventure!
** Maybe We’ll See YOU On the Trail ** Amanda – TooTallFritz