By Shannon Featherstone, Co-RD
What better way for two runners to celebrate New Year’s Eve than by throwing a 6-Hour Ultra celebration with 30 of their best and brand-new running friends? At least, that’s what fellow race director Ann Scholl and I thought when we came up with the idea for this event. What we didn’t count on was the polar vortex that would settle over the midwest in the days leading up to our run.
Obsessive weather watching and fervent hope were not enough to drive away the brutal cold and persistent wind. And, as it turns out, the weather was not enough to drive off the hardy runners who showed up either.
Considering this was the inaugural year for this event, we were thrilled to have a couple dozen people pre-register. Given the conditions, we were even more thrilled when not only did those pre-registered show up to run but also a half-dozen more day-of registrants walked up to try their hand – or feet – at some frozen night time running. Oh, did we mention that this was a night run, too?
The Run Your Pas*t Off, the second race in the Titletown Ultra Series, took place at High Cliff State Park near Sherwood, Wisconsin. Starting at 4 p.m. and ending at 10 p.m., and with sunset at 4:23 p.m., the runners only had a scant hour of diminishing daylight before they needed to turn on their headlamps.
A four-mile loop took runners along wooded trails, bridle trails, and over a rocky quarry, all snow-covered, before bringing them back to the indoor pavilion to warm up by the fire, grab some food, and access their gear bag.
During the last hour and fifteen minutes, runners were switched to a shorter 1.5-mile loop through the woods to allow them to get as much mileage as possible before the clock struck 10 p.m.
Despite a temperature below zero and a wind chill forecast to be near -25 towards the end of the event, participants were not deterred and did not hesitate to give it their best shot.
Next year’s event is already scheduled for December 31, 2018. More information is available at https://www.facebook.com/events/206330309942905/.