Sunday, November 09, 2008


The MN Trail Running Series (MNTRS) is a series of 12 trail races throughout Minnesota, ranging in distances from 5K up to a marathon. (Follow the link to learn more about the races, results, rules, registration.) This is a great series. Besides learning about some of the best races out there, it's a good way to get to know other runners in the series as you see them at the different races.

I was introduced to the series by Kate Havelin at a local race (Chester Woods) in 2007. What really caught my attention was the cool award she had for doing ALL of the races the previous year. I could relate to her story: "I'll never win an award based on how fast I run, but there's an awesome award for completing all the races."

The series dictated a big part of my 2008 running schedule! I decided to sign up and try to do all the races. And what was really cool... 3 other runners decided to do the same thing. Kel, Jim, John, and I all decided to go for it -- to "shoot the moon" -- and thankfully we discovered early that there were 4 of us. We looked for each other at each race, enjoyed catching up and encouraging each other, and I'm happy to report that we all did it!!

Congratulations Kel, Jim, and John!! Check out Kel's recap of all the races, and our cool awards (made by Larry Pederson, President of the UMTR, one of the creators of the MNTRS, and the guy with the beard in the back of the photo):

photo from Phillip Gary Smith,

The above photo was taken at the UMTR Awards Fest -- the 1st Annual Awards Fest celebrating a season of running.

The Upper Midwest Trail Runners (UMTR) is a new club for anyone who likes to run off road. (Follow the link to learn lots more.) The UMTR has adopted the MNTRS, and created a 2nd series: The Fab 5 Fifties is a series of 9 ultra trail races with distances of 50K or 50 miles throughout the upper Midwest, stretching over 1000 miles from South Dakota to Michigan.

So are you a trail runner? Or are you interested in trying it? The UMTR is the place to be... check it out and consider joining for 2009! I will be renewing my membership. I really enjoyed the MNTRS races in 2008 and will certainly do some of them again in 2009. But I also have my eye on some of the races in the Fab 5 Fifties series. I hope to see you out there...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Surf the Murph 50K

When I found out about Surf the Murph, I thought "this could be a great way to wrap up the year". This is my rookie year in the 50k ultra world, and I did three early on: in Feb, April, and May. I figured it'd be great to run one more 50k, on a beautiful Fall day, in a great park, with friends, while setting a PR (a person can dream, right??).

Well, what do ya know... that's pretty much how it went!

I think the best part is that I ran the whole way with other people! Normally I end up running by myself - and that's ok, I still enjoy the races. But running with others all day long at Surf the Murph was a total blast!!

I started out with Kel - we took it easy in the dark and then settled into an easy pace. I'm glad Kel was just out to enjoy the day and wasn't interested in pushing it, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to hang with her. As it was, I still almost got dropped on the single track on the first lap.

During the 2nd lap we started hearing voices. They'd be there, then they'd be gone, and then they'd be back. Nothing spooky going on, just a group of runners that were slowly reeling us in. We started thinking "just catch us already!"... I've decided slowly catching other runners must be more fun than slowly being caught. :)

photo from Bryan Cochran

Kel was done with her 25K at the end of lap 2, so I decided I would see if this other group of runners would let me join them... and sure enough they did. So the fun continued. I knew Les from before, and got to know Carol, JoAnn, Tom, E, and John out on the course. We just cruised along - the back of the pack - chatting away and enjoying a nice day in the woods. It seemed everyone started feeling the miles along the way, but we all hung in for a nice finish.

I should note that this was a very compassionate group of runners. About the only mishap was me twisting my ankle early on lap 4. The two runners I was with (who shall remain nameless) paused for just a bit as I started walking it off. I received a quick "are you ok?" and "gotta shake it off"... and then they took off! As they ditched me I'm pretty sure I also heard "if you can't shake it off, someone will come back for you. we think. probably tomorrow. maybe." Tough love I guess, and it worked... I shook it off. :)

photo from Cindy Martisko

A great big Thank You goes to Les & Cindy and all the volunteers for putting on a great event!! I hope to do this one again. As always, it was nice to reconnect with friends and make some new ones. Hopefully there will be some group runs in the next couple of months before the next race season begins. Until then, hang in there, heal up if necessary, and run when you can!