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.


Harriet said...

Nice report..I enjoyed reading it.


Anonymous said...

Great job man!! 8th place and 3rd in your division is awesome.
Great report as well.

Anonymous said...

I ran the marathon too. I got lost and completely missed the aid station (Tower). I heard many got lost. I'm guessing I did an extra two miles. Another runner got lost with me lol. Great job Saturday! :)

dirt_trail_runner said...

thanks, adam and ollie. appreciated. how did jubilee go??

anon, that turn after the aid station was really poorly marked. i should have known better than to run with just the blue ribbons, but they then turned to white ribbons and i ended up all the way down by the road. ah well, bonus miles.

Anonymous said...

Dirt Trail Runner,

Thanks for coming to the race & thanks for the feedback on the course marking. I'm the guy responsible for all that stuff.

The turn you took added 2.6-ish miles to your course. We had it marked with a "RELAY ONLY" sign. I'll rely less on signage in the future, especially for the half/full marathon.

This was our first year in Devil's Lake. (It was also our first year in Green Swamp, FL; come down for your winter break.) I live in CT and only made it over to WI once before the race; I had several people on the ground there trying to tell me how to do it, but there's no substitute for standing in the fields & seeing it.

Next year will be better. (It's always better in the future...)

--ted (Swamp Dog)

dirt_trail_runner said...

no problem at all, ted. it's mostly my fault for being dehydrated and loopy, and then not trusting my instincts and turning around sooner. bonus miles are all good. otherwise was a great trail and fun race. we live, hopefully we learn.

see you next year.

dirt_trail_runner said...

another update, i was told 8th overall at the finish, but looks like that has become 20th overall. so much for boston!

Anonymous said...

Jubilee was great, pretty muddy and slick in places but great.
I marked the course this year and than left 15 minutes behind everyone else took the markers off and made sure the course was clear of all the runners.
I was the the offical "L-ROT" (last runner on trail). Running dead last gives you an appreciation for how much worse the trail is after everyone has been on it, very very slick. I don't think anyone ever thinks how bad the folks near the end have it.
I had a friend up at DWD running the relay it was his first trail race and all he keeps talking about is running the hills and briars.
Great job again,