Monday, January 14, 2019

St. Croix 40 Winter Ultra

This weekend I participated in the St. Croix 40 Winter Ultra  in Hinkley MN.  This is a new winter ultra race put on by Jamison and Lisa Swift, really nice folks who have been involved in the winter scene for some time.

Winter ultras are a completely different beast with unique challenges.  They tend to involve extensive required gear like a specific caliber of sleeping bag, bivy (shelter), fuel, emergency food and other things to survive the winter.  Most people place this gear in a pulk and run with it.  Generaqlly you can ski, run or bike the distance.

Loading my pulk

 Years back the Tuscobia Winter Ultras had a 35/40 mile option but discontinued it.  So in terms of actual winter endurance events, rookies had to do something like the Frozen Otter (64 miles) or the Tuscobia 80 miles.  Both of these are in cold to extreme cold temps with very little outside support.  As times you can go tens of miles alone with no place to seek shelter should things go wrong.  While it is true that if you have the required gear and some knowledge of using it, these are both quite big events for a rookie.

In short, there was a need for a good introductory winter ultra.  So this was a great idea.

To add fuel to the fire, St. Croix included a couple of skills tests that needed to be performed as part of the race.  First, we all started in our sleeping bags and bivy.  Tucked in.  (Sidenote, I've participated in 9 winter ultras and I have never used my sleeping bag and bivy).

My first bivy
Also, we were required to get out our stove and boil water in the middle of the 40 mile race. (Sidenote, I've participated in 9 winter ultras and I have never used stove).

As you may be guessing.  This is a perfect event for someone new to or interested in winter ultras.  The 40 mile distance is challenging while not overwhelming.  The skills tests are cool confidence builders.  Also, ts a water only checkpoint at 20 miles so you aren't doing a 30-40 mile section without aid.  

We started at 6 p.m. and the event has a 16 hour cutoff.  I started with Adam, but he took off about 5-10 miles in and I spent the rest of the event alone.  I found my all day hiking pace and cranked out a book (Artemis by Andy Weir) and a bunch of podcasts.  I settled into some classic rock in the end and finished comfortably around 12 hours.  Other than a few blood blisters from a problem I am developing on the side of my foot in these Hoka Bondi's (yes, I for some reason ran in road shoes) I didn't have any issues.

For nutrition I ate 2 RX Bars, 2 Nutty Buddy's and a bag of cheese munchies.  I drank 80 ounces of water.  Memory, I cried a little during Eric Clapton's Tears in Heaven.  

So 14 hours of driving, no hotel.  And a nice stop at Culver's later.  team ASS (Adam, Siva Scott) came home victorious.

If you are considering winter ultras or curious about them, this is your obvious first step.  A great taste of what the sport has to offer in a safe environment which requires you to perform a few of the skills essential to it.  I highly recommend it!

Thanks for the support, and thanks for listening to Ten Junk Miles!!!

Sidenote: the first price increase for the Badger Trail Races is coming soon.  So get signed up so I can see you in the tunnel!!

1 comment:

  1. Great to have you guys there! Thanks for being such big supporters of the event. See you this summer!