Disclaimer: I received entry into the The North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Hey guys, it’s been a busy week of blogging! However it feels good to catch up and tell you what I have been up to, and what’s happening next.
My last race was the Half Marathon for the North Face Endurance Challenge in Kettle Moraine State Park in WI. You might recall I ran the 50k here last year and had a blast! When Bibrave had opportunities to run here again I was excited, however I could only make the Sunday races as there was a home Iowa football game on Saturday. GO HAWKS!
If you are looking for the facts of the race, check out my review at Bibrave.com.
I arrived to Milwaukee around 8:30 pm Saturday night. I met up with fellow Bibrave pros Laura B and Jessica S. They were having dinner, and I made myself at home and had some pasta too. I am pretty sure we could have talked all night, but with the 8 am race start about a 45 minute drive away in the morning, we made sure to get some rest.
Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Pro Compression Socks, Addidas 7″ boyshorts, On Running Cloud Surfer shoes, Garmin Fenix, Corridor Running hat, Aftershokz headphones (never used), SPIBelt, BR tank, Buff(r), XX2i usa1
We (Laura and I) woke up to the Arthur alarm clock…Laura’s cute dog, and I had some toast with peanut butter. We left the house and in what felt like no time, had made it to the park.
We arrived and just pulled right up to the entrance, no questions asked and were given a day parking permit, for FREE. We were guided to a parking spot, which was maybe a minute walk to the start/finish area.
I had to use the bathroom, and exchange my shirt(Laura picked up my packet the day before, with no problems) The shirts are gender specific, tech short sleeve…anymore I never know what size to get, but I was happy I could exchange for a better fit. However I am not sure if the neck is made for someone with 2 heads, very roomy, lol.
After we took care of the things we needed, we had some time to mill around the area. There were all kinds of tents, race information, merchandise, sponsors, area races, etc. Then it was time to race.
The half marathon was first on Sunday, followed by the 10k and 5k races. It started in waves and I was seeded into wave 5, which was no big deal. Laura chose to start with me and we would run together.
The sun was out, it was a pleasant day, but it would warm up to around 80 degrees.
The half marathon route is also part of the 50k route I ran the year before, so I knew what to expect. The trails in this park are great, true trail in my mind. There are areas of rocks, dirt, sand, and grass. There are also many rolling hills. However the trail is such you really wouldn’t need trail shoes to run them.
Laura and I came upon the first aid station, and were greeted by lots of friendly volunteers. The first thing I noticed was there was no real food, just Gels and some Tailwind and water in the same clear plastic cups.The volunteers made sure to tell us with was Tailwind and which was water.
I was not carrying anything with me but my phone, no food or drink, I had to change my fueling plan. I knew I would be ok, as I had my toast, but with weird low blood sugar problems earlier in the summer, I like to be prepared.
Laura and I chatted some and I asked her about Tailwind, I think she mentioned it tasted fine. I am all about nothing new on race day…however I also know I can eat/drink a lot of crap and be fine. I also know an electrolyte drink and no food will get me through a half marathon. Also I don’t do gels…. *I totally read the course guide wrong, apparently the marathon and 50k get the real food on course, the shorter distances have gels*
With my race fueling adjusted, Laura and I kept chatting away. We didn’t even hook up our music, we both ran with our headphones around our neck.
There were sections of the course that were out and back, or loops, so we would see other runners. We cheered for them, and they for us. Great field of participants. There were a few spectators out on the course too, mostly people that were familiar with the area, and knew where to go on the trail.
The trail was easily navigable with ribbon markings. Each race distance had a different colored bib, that bib color corresponded with the ribbon marking color on the trail. There were also some arrows directing runners at corners. A few mile markers were out there too.
Then all the sudden we were crossing the main road back towards the finish line, where had the miles gone? I also survived fueled by Tailwind. It was like I called my best pal up for a run…it was great, I had so much fun. We even entertained the photographers with our mid race jumping skills.Running never felt like a task, but we were always aware of our surroundings, and walked some of the uphills, and were cautious on the downhills.
We had to decide how we would finish the race, would we jump across the finish line, throw a thumbs up?
Well we both sprocketed into the air as we crossed the line. Ha…so much fun! Our time was around 2:38, which is really good considering my past few half times, and this was trail.
Once we were done a volunteer handed us a medal, they were all the same for the weekend, but each race distance had a different ribbon. Then we were handed an empty reusable water bottle we could fill with water or more Tailwind. There was a small finishers food area with bananas, orange slices, epic bars, bagel bites and bpi products.
Laura and I stood around snacking on some food, and noticed some greedy 5kers taking more food than necessary. I hope the people still running got their share of food.
We spotted fellow pros Kim and Lisa. They were working the North Face tent, you could play games for swag. Laura actually won a cool trucker hat playing “bags.” I was impressed with Lisa, she had completed the 50 miler the day before and she was still standing. Kim ran the 5k and placed 2nd in her AG. These pros are awesome!!! We chatted some more and then it was time for our post race beer.
Sierra Nevada was back again for the post race fun. I love real beer!!! Laura and I took advantage then stopped to talk with another race, hey hey looks like we might do a 100 mile relay next year…or maybe not.
It was sad to call it a day at the event, but I had a 4 hour drive and needed some real food. The post race real food was for purchase only. We said our goodbyes, and I was on my way home. * I will be back soon enough for the Milwaukee Running Festival*
I did make a stop in nearby Eagle, WI to get a sandwich. I stopped at some dive style bar, filled with motorcycle riders and Packer fans. I got a chicken sandwich and cheese curds (fried) and really wanted a Spotted Cow, but I had no one to drive me home.
This is the second year being involved with this event. I have enjoyed both times, and I hope to get back again next year. The trails in this park are great, in addition to the volunteers and everyone that makes it happen.