Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dances With Dirt--Devil's Lake

Ran the full marathon ++ of this one yesterday up in Baraboo, WI. DWD, Hell, MI is one I've wanted to do, but Baraboo being closer to IL made this an easier commitment. They advertise the DWD races as "insane terrain," and while is there is a smattering of truth in the marketing, there are runnable spots here. Still, make no mistake this is a tough course.

The early section is a nice steady uphill which eventually crosses a glacial deposit area, meaning rocks and lots of them. There is some really nice single track until you get to about 10 miles, where it's straight up I'd guess about 600-700 feet on rocky trail to the ridge overlooking Devil's Lake. There are some big, more steady climbs after this, then about a two mile bushwhacking section right around 12 miles.

While the trail is marked with ribbon, it is a bit confusing, as you have white, pink, and blue ribbons depending on the course you're running. The turns also aren't marked well and if you're looking down it's easy to go off course. I veered off course after the Steinke Basin aid station and stupidly didn't backtrack soon enough, adding two plus miles to the 'thon. The turn wasn't marked well, but then again, I should have been looking up. Ended up getting a bit dehydrated and draining my bottles before I realized my error. Finally made it to Tower aid station with 2.7 left and ended up hammering it home sheerly from being pissed off about going off trail. Word after the race was that I wasn't the only person who did this by a long shot.

My finish time was somewhere around 5:50, good for 8th place overall and 3rd place age group. 8th sounds impressive, but overall there were only around 30 some thoners. They had around 150 half thon and then a pretty good crowd of 50k and 50 mile. 50 k was an option, but didn't want to plunk down the extra 40 bucks for 5 more miles. As it stands 28+ miles is going down in my book as an ultra finish anyway.

I would recommend this race. Not being a skier, I didn't know the area was so cool. The race starts right at Devil's Head ski area and I think the 50 k course concludes up on the trails around the top of the "mountain." The only possible drawbacks are A. You have to really watch the markings or not be as dumb as I am. It is possible in spots to lose the course. B. A few spots are unrunnable bushwhacking through off woods terrain. If you are for some reason racing or running this for time, that could be annoying. I just thought it was fun. C. There wasn't a lot of grub postrace. Again, a minor complaint. On the positive side, the park is really gorgeous, the aid stations are great, and the shirt is one of the best I've gotten from a race.

There aren't too many better ways to spend a Saturday.