Being unfamiliar with trail races I bought new trail shoes, Brooks Cascadia, which I love and thought that I would really use them at the “Trailbreaker” Marathon, I was in for a surprise. The race website said improved trail so I thought gravel, like much of the Fox River Trail. What I got was 15 miles of asphalt, 7.5 on the way out, 7.5 on the way back and no gravel shoulder on the trail. Luckily the shoes behave well on the road. You might think that running on this ‘improved” trail would be boring, but the views of the valleys and hills of Waukesha were beautiful, it really is a great trail.
The real trail didn’t occur until the Ice Age Trail and it did not disappoint. There were roots, large rock hills and down hills, and after you beat your legs for 3.5 miles you get to run/walk up a 40 foot tower. The Ice Age Trail is beautiful. You’re in the forest running like you should, fully engaged in your surroundings, or you might break something.
As I’m finding out on the marathons that I’m running the best part of the race is the people. On the way out I ran with a 65 year-old trail running vet who has run this course often. I also met a college kid who was a former high school football offensive lineman who after an undisclosed illness lost over 100 pounds and now could not even be a wide receiver, but he is a pretty darn good runner. The 65 year old was having trouble on the paved trail, but once we got to the Ice Age trail he became a mountain goat and kicked my butt. The kid I lost when I stopped to snug up my shoes for the trail. The kid asked if I wanted him to wait for me, and I said no, I’ll try to catch up, big mistake, never happened. I would come to regret this later.
Another thing about trail runners, they’re very accommodating. If you’re on a single track, they’ll move over to let your pass. If a leader is coming back on the trail he gets the right of way. Very nice people, a fact that would be confirmed at the Navarino Trail marathon in a few weeks.
Well I made it up the tower and started back, and watched my 65 year-old buddy really go into mountain goat mode. In a matter of a quarter mile he was out of sight and I wouldn’t see him again until the food table after the race.
Left with no buddies to talk to, the second half marathon totally sucked. For those who know me, I need to talk; I’m a social animal, at least until the last 2 miles of a run when I’m hurting.
Finally finished and then hooked up with my new buddies, had a couple bagels Gatorade and a shower then headed home.
If you read the reviews of the race some people complained about the traffic back in town, the surly cops and unhelpful volunteers. What race did they run? Perhaps they should thank the volunteers once in a while. I meet very helpful people along the way from the race director to the cops to the vols, great people. Overall this is a beautiful course. Very low fees and a great value. Do it if you can next year.