DrylandMinnesota Half Voyageur Trail Marathon

FasterSkierJuly 16, 2004

I heard a strange beeping sound yesterday and I tried to figure out why my alarm clock had a “4” where the hour should be. Then I remembered. I was pre-registered to run the 11th Annual Minnesota Half Voyageur Trail Marathon. My wife muttered something like, “Run, Forrest, Run” as I got up to eat my pre-race oatmeal. I’ve run a few road marathons, but yesterday was my first trail marathon. As they say here in Minnesota, “That’s different.”

I pretty much hung at the back, being the Citizen Shmo that I am, and tried to get warmed up. The sun was spectacular over the fog draped city of Duluth as we cut across Spirit Mountain Ski Area. Nice way to start the day. I figured I only had 5 hours to go. Don’t think about it too much.

We dove down Mission Creek and back up to the Munger Trail. Two guys in the Thor Hushovd group came by and I said, “I told you you’d see me again!” Then I dodged little stumps on a newly cut piece of trail near the Munger. Eventually we spat out onto the dreaded Power Lines. Luckily, the fog had held and we weren’t getting fried. Just fried by the never-ending ups and downs. I looked at my HR monitor at the top of one rise and it said 230. Holy Mackerel! Oh yeah, I’m under a power line. I tried to pretend that the magnetic fields were giving me energy somehow and not just screwing up my monitor.

I passed a guy just before the famous Jay Cooke Swinging Bridge over the St. Louis River. I asked what the rest of the course was like. He said you had to pick your way through a lot of tree roots and rocks. Any other day, no problem. After 24 miles…PROBLEM. I didn’t fall, but, boy, I felt like the stiff-legged Frankenstein monster moving through the woods. “Oh No! The townspeople are chasing me with pitchforks! AAaarrgghh!” My goals at the start were: Finish, Have Fun, Don’t Get Hurt, and Get Under 5 and Half Hours. Now they were: Don’t Get Hurt and Do You Smell French Fries?

I spat out onto the Munger Trail for the last time. I could see the red and white checkerboard Purina sign on the feed mill near the finish in Carlton. There’s probably food there, huh? Run faster! I tried to get my heart rate up, but the tank was empty. I hobbled over the line 30 seconds under 5 hours. Rookie trail marathon complete. On the 24th of July, lots of the same people that were there yesterday will turn around…and go back. The full Voyageur Trail Marathon retraces all the steps you just made all the way back to Duluth. Frankenstein not go back, I thought. Me just eat this cookie.

Bruce Bauer of Duluth (18th in the last Birkie) finished first in 3:33:48. Rochelle Wirth was first for the women in 4:04:29. I finished 48th out of 100 or so runners. All I know is that my 5 hours is an hour longer than any kind of sporting event I’ve ever been in before. Like Pink Floyd says, “The memories of an old man are the deeds of a young man in his prime.” Maybe not prime or young, but definitely a deed. And every deed gets me closer to Wave One.

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