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Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:13 am
by daddy_runner
Friday, March 15:
I escaped from my daily drudgery, also known as work, 30 minutes early so I could meet Bob and Craig at my house to car-pool down to Fargo for our race the next day. Bob was waiting for me already with his bag at the end of my driveway. Craig arrived 30 minutes later. That would be the most normal part of this roadtrip.

When we got to the border with ND, we crossed with no problem. No lineup at all. I suppose most normal people had bothered to check the forecast and noticed that there was a blizzard going on south of us. We, being ultrarunners, were anything but normal. What was normally a 4 hour drive with caution thrown to the wind taking advantage of North Dakota's liberal 75mph speed limit, was instead a white-knuckled adventure complete with semis rolled upside-down in the ditch, cars creeping along the interstate at 15mph, and whiteouts as regular as a heartbeat.

It was somewhere just before Fargo that we realized nobody knew how to get to our hotel in Lisbon (a small town SW of Fargo). Or how to get to Lisbon, for that matter. Fortunately, Bob brought along his work's smartphone and graciously siphoned a large portion of his work's bank account to Rogers so we could get accurate directions.

When we arrived at the hotel, Craig announced his intention to grab a beer before bed. I, realizing that we had to be up in 8 hours for our race, did the responsible thing and succumbed to peer pressure. We found the local dive bar. It was karaoke and poker night. One beer turned into two, which turned into jager shots, which turned into tequila shots. All I can say is, drinking in the States is freaking CHEAP.

Saturday, March 16:
Our alarms went off way too early. We all woke up and got our gear in order. I double-checked that my drop-bag had everything I wanted in it, then up with dwayne_runs_far in the breakfast area of the hotel. I proceeded to do some last-minute carbo-loading of waffles, waffles, and more waffles. Bob and Craig were in no condition for breakfast. Seeing as our car didn't have directions from our hotel to the race finish, we decided to follow Alain, dwayne_runs_far, and Joel to the starting line. Unfortunately, we forgot to inform them of our plan and they left without us.

Bob's smartphone pulled through for us once again. At the finish line, there was a school bus waiting to take us to the starting line. The plan was that we would be bused to the start and we would have our cars waiting for us at the finish (so we could leave at our own leisure). This made sense, and worked well. I heard that there are a few other ultras that do something like this. The race director had gone over the course a week earlier and put flags in the ground the previous week so that we would know where the trail was. Unfortunately, those flags were either buried under 2 feet of snow or blown away in the hurricane-force winds from the previous night. Fortunately, the race director had some family members that had snowmobiles. Right before the start of the race, a snowmobile took off down the trail to flatten down the snow and give us an idea of which direction to go. The snowmobile was successful in giving us the idea of which direction to go, and rather unsuccessful in flattening down the trail excepting the parts which had a thick crust upon which we wouldn't have broken through anyway.

The journey to the starting line was uneventful. The race start itself was rather uneventful as well. The only thing of note is that I identified an electric fence while partaking in the time-honoured tradition of the pre-race pee. The bad news is that I identified the electric fence after I had urinated on it. The race director had us gather up near the start of the trail, then said: "Well, I guess we better go". Then nothing happened. Nobody wanted to be the idiot who broke trail for everybody else. After a few seconds, Alain and Craig took off down the trail never to be heard from again. We followed. Somehow, I ended up at the front of a rather large conga-line. It being the start of the race, and not having warmed up first, I power-hiked/ran at a steady 15min/mile pace. By 2 miles in, most of the people behind me decided that I would best be left for dead, and passed me.

The first aid station at mile 7 (approximately 1:30 into the race) promised "Great Jugs". Imagine my disappointment when I was presented with 2 gallons of water. It was at this point that I realized I had not handed in my drop bag. So all the food on me was going to have to last the entire race. Oops.

It was after the first aid station that we had our first experience with anything resembling vertical relief. It was the first of many PUDs (pointless up-and-downs). We also learned the lesson that anytime the trail isn't perfectly flat, the snow is going to be deep. Fortunately, the hills were short-lived. I managed to beat a train in a footrace, and so didn't get stopped for 5 minutes at a crossing. I came across dwayne_runs_far hobbling along; he killed his hamstring and had to drop at the next aid station.

I reached the second aid station (mile 15) approximately 4:20 into the race. I had now officially run the farthest I had in a year. If I had to drop, I would have had no problems doing so. But nothing was hurting except my muscles, so I grabbed a snicker's bar and headed off on the next leg of the race. The next leg was the easiest and most boring part: A 3 mile out-and-back. Thus, I arrived at the third aid station (mile 18) with a mild case of deja vu. Another snicker's bar, and a fill-up of water, and I sped off towards the next aid station.

This was the point when the race ceased to be, and became a death march. The hills started up again right out of the gate, and we were forced to slow to a zombie-like 2mph. I managed to catch up to another clydesdale runner (Dan) over that leg of the race, and chatted with him for a while. Together, we pushed each other and passed a few other runners including Joel. At some point, Dan had to take a quick food break; I, needing to ration my food, kept going. And so it took 3 hours to get to the last aid station. I was surprised to see Bob at the aid station, as he had left me eating his dust pretty early on in the race. He told me he was dropping, and presented his hockey-pucks-for-shoes as a reasonable excuse. I was bonking pretty hard at that point, but still nothing hurt more than it should after being on the move for 8 hours, so I filled my pockets with cookies crammed my gloves full of my remaining Gus, filled my water bottle, and zombie-walked on down the trail.

It turned out that a lot of runners dropped at the last aid station, and as such the trail on was significantly less chewed up. I managed to speed up to a blazing 25 min/mile. This section also had some of the biggest climbs, and I was thankful for all of the hill training I had done on the treadmill over the winter. Dan caught up to me as I was taking a food break, and we zombie-walked together for a while. The sun set pretty quickly and the temperatures dropped accordingly. The race information packet stated that a windproof jacket was mandatory, so naturally that was all I had for additional warmth. After twilight had ceased, I turned on my headlamp which was barely adequate for distinguishing the snowmobile track from the rest of the snow. Dan and I got seperated after a while and I was on my own again. I was starting to get the feeling that the trail would just go on forever, when I saw a car's tail-light off on the distance. That was the road which I had to cross 1/4 mile before the finish line. Feeling reinvigorated, I sped up to an olympic-calibre 20min/mile for the last mile or so heading towards the road. I crossed the road, made the left-hand turn towards the finish line, and finished to much applause. I was the first clydesdale finisher, and 9th overall (out of 32 starters). Official time was 11:18, to make my 50k PB only 11 minutes faster than my 50mile PB. I have a feeling there is room for improvement.

Alain finished 1st, and Craig finished 2nd. Bob, Joel, and dwayne_runs_far all had to drop. Dan finished 7 minutes behind me for 2nd in the clydesdale category. We were the only two clydesdales to finish.

I finally let myself start to shiver as I changed into my dry clothes. Two burgers, a handful of chips, and 2 cokes later, we all piled into the car to head home. I fell asleep instantaneously, only to be woken up at the Canadian border. The border guard didn't ask us too many questions, seeing as we were in rough shape and had already been informed that there were carloads of tired ultrarunners headed north by Alain's car. I once again fell asleep instantaneously and woke up again when we were in Winnipeg.


END-SURE was my first 50k race, my first winter ultra, and a memorable experience. Everybody involved got at least a little bit of windburn.

Re: END-SURE 50k

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:34 am
by grimskot
Dude! I'm amazed and awed that you finished this one. I'll bet you wish we had last March's weather this year, eh? I salute you, sir! Oh, and great race report too, btw.


Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:22 am
by daddy_runner
Yes, last March's weather would certainly have been welcomed! But on the other hand, it wouldn't have made as memorable an experience.

Re: END-SURE 50k

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:23 pm
by barebuns1
Great race report and I salute you, too. :)

Re: END-SURE 50k

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:10 pm
by Ken B
Great effort and a superb report. BTW - It looks like your eyes are wind burnt as well!!


Re: END-SURE 50k

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:23 am
by MikeM
Wow, congrats on your first 50k. Amazing perseverance in tough conditions and great race report.

Re: END-SURE 50k

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:33 am
by orleansrunner1962
WOW - you sure know how to pick 'em!! Great initiation into the Ultra scene -- well done!!

Re: END-SURE 50k

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:11 pm
by Habs4ever
WOW Dale, crazy! :shock:

Re: END-SURE 50k

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:02 am
by ian
Only an ultrarunner could consider doing shots the night before a race. Impressive.

daddy_runner wrote:The only thing of note is that I identified an electric fence while partaking in the time-honoured tradition of the pre-race pee. The bad news is that I identified the electric fence after I had urinated on it.

That brings back memories of Ren & Stimpy:

Re: END-SURE 50k

Posted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:03 pm
by daddy_runner
orleansrunner1962 wrote:WOW - you sure know how to pick 'em!! Great initiation into the Ultra scene -- well done!!

Wasn't my first ultra, but my first 50k. :)

Re: END-SURE 50k

Posted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:19 am
by Robinandamelia
Congrats for getting it done! Sounds like one to remember.

Re: END-SURE 50k

Posted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:38 pm
by runJrun
Congratulations on finishing what sounds like a very tough race!