The Fall 50 has been around for years as a local favorite relay race (450 runners were here for the relay, which sold out in one hour!), but it first hit my radar when it became the site for the USATF 50-Mile National Championships for 2014/15. I recalled when local Wisconsin hero (and American/World Record Holder) Zach Bitter had set the course record with a blazing 5:28 in 2011, and suspected it was a PR-worthy course. It turns out that thanks to Zach, Race Director and Founder Sean Ryan, USATF evangelist and Wisconsin running hero Roy Pirrung, and hard working Door County representatives, the race quickly went from a seasonal running celebration to the main stage. A perfect excuse to check out a part of the USA I have never seen!
Straight up , y’all…Wisconsin has got to be one of the nicest communities in America. From dah endless tank youse fer comin' to their little town, to Dennis and Bonnie Statz at the White Lane Inn bed and breakfast who would settle for nothing less than a live band in the living room post-race, the runner-shaped cookies, quilts, and signs that filled the stores...this lakeside town couldn’t possibly have been more welcome. I instinctively adopted their "Oh, geez" and "Watcha doin', hey" lingo as the relay vans arrived in droves with costume-clad runners, praising the "fair to middlin' good weath-har, as sure as God made little green apples". SOOOO awesome...I couldn't get enough! I felt like I made 20 new best friends by the time I picked up my race packet. Regardless of the race outcome, the trip was already golden.
|(Door County is known for its amazing Fall colors)|
As we boarded the buses to the start, I immediately spotted Team Adidas runner Dr. Josh Brimhall (yes, that's "Dr. Brimhall" - Phd in Education, who knew? Respect, yo!). We passed the time in the dark ride north talking about his expansion of the Red Rock Running Company empire, my crazy experiences doing data science for Eaze (the Uber of Medical Marijuana...definitely a "growth" industry), and his meticulously planned sub-5:50 goal for today (whoa!). We only had a few short minutes to get prepped before they sent us off at 7am.
|(Getting ready at the start - slight breeze, low 50's, just right!)|
|(I am fashion-challenged, but ready to go!)|
|(And we're off!!!)|
As the sun rose up in the first 10 miles, the hillsides lit up with orange, amber, and gold. Door County is a majesty of American beauty! The wind spun leaves all around us, and endless V’s of geese honked ensemble against the headwinds as we padded our way down the remote highway. It was easy to just kick back in our groove and knock out the miles. My pace partners Bennett and Indiana's Justin Kowalski kept the conversation light, and made for a good target to catch up to when I manually refilled at the aid stations. The hills were just about right - not giants, but big enough to shift your muscle groups regularly.
|(The sun warms up the autumn leaves)|
|(Bennett leads us through the park)|
|(Aid stations were well stocked, and well run!)|
|(Adding a little color)|
|(The water was always close by)|
|(Costumes were definitely encouraged)|
|(A beautiful day!)|
|(The Top Gun team pushed Maverick all 50 miles)|
|(Finishing up, feeling good!)|
|(The finisher tent was packed!)|
|(New 50-Mile Nat'l Champ and course record holder Larisa Dannis gets some love from RD Sean Ryan)|
|(Mark Thompson placed 3rd today, thanks to his crew)|
|(Tyler Sigl on stage with a pair of DJ's only Wisconsin would claim)|
|(Plenty o' bling, and a check for 500 bones!)|
|(The Sigl family helps Tyler with his fastest Wisconsin runner award)|
|(What can I say? Chicks dig a guy with medals)|