Monday, October 15, 2012

Glacial Trail 50 Race Report - Rainageddon!

Wow - What a muddy, sloppy miserable and good time.

The Ice Age Trail in the Northern Kettle Moraine is the home to the Glacial Trail 50 mile / 50k.  This year it rained 2+ inches Saturday and 3+ inches during the race on Sunday. 

I had been looking forward to the 50 mile race since last year's 50k.  My goal was to best my 2006 time of 7:50 and see if I could come away with a win.  This was my 2nd race using Vi Fuel as my primary fuel source and I was excited to have my energy levels stay more consistent.

5:58 am we left the shelter of Greenbush fire station and headed to the start line.  With moderate rain and 53 degrees we had put it off as long as we could.

Race Director - Robert Wehrner started us off and immediately there were 8-9 guys gaping me on the initial 3/4 a mile road section.  I felt really good and just tried to relax.  The initial grass area was squishy, but decent footing, the hard packed dirt was a little muddy, but not slippery ... yet.

The 1st hour of the race is dark and headlamps are required.   4 miles into the race there is a 1.5-2 mile stretch constant rock garden.  I am good at technical trail, so I caught and passed 2 people in this stretch.  The rain was moderate to hard, but the trail was holding up and I was generating enough heat to stay warm.  I wore a camelback and my plan was to take a gel every 20 minutes and 4-5 s-caps during the race.

I hit the Hwy 67 aide station in 62 minutes feeling good.  I dumped my headlamp and took off with the goal to stay relaxed and smooth.  In the next section, Hwy 67 to Butler Lake, we hit occasional mud that made you get out of the single track and onto the longer grass.  The rain let up for 5 minutes, but then it was a downpour.

Joel Lammers caught up to me in this section and we ran together into the Butler Lake aide station in 2 hours flat = 58 minutes for the section.  Joel is great runner and a fun guy to hang out. He went to his drop bag and I just kept going, so I gaped him by a minute or so.  This continued most of the day, anytime I would walk a hill, I would turn around and there would be Joel.

The 1st few miles this section I ran alone, passing 1 more person.  The footing was still reasonable.  More mud, more squishy and more puddles.  I really like this section of trail, I have run it 4o+ times in the last 2 years.  I passed another guy late in this section. Soon, Joel and the 2 guys I passed caught up just before Mauthe Lake aide station.  We hit Mauthe Lake in 64 minutes for a total time of 3:04 for the 1st 20.5 miles.

Mauthe Lake to the New Fane turn around is 4.5 miles and the trail had the best footing of the day.  These miles went by quickly and soon I was anticipating seeing the people ahead of me coming back.  1st was Chris Rubesch about 8 minutes before I hit the turn (16 minutes ahead of me),  #2-4 were between 2-4 minutes before the turn.  I hit the turn in 3:45, I had re-filled my camelback at Mauthe Lake, so just a quick aide station check in and back down the trail I went.

I had paced well the 1st half and I was in good position for the 2nd half.  I met Joel about 1 minute after the turn and a couple more guys a minute later.  Moderate to heavy rain continued. A few times it would let up for 5  to 10 minutes only to start up again.  I had a go-lite wisp coat in my camelback, so I mentally checked myself often for hypothermia, but was still putting out enough heat. 

I hit Mauthe Lake in 41 minutes, the same as the way out.  I felt good and started to have thoughts about going after the 3 ahead of me.  I held off as I wanted to stay smooth to Butler Lake (13.3 miles to go), then I could go on the hunt.

After Mauthe Lake the trail deteriorated significantly and kept getting worse the rest of the day.  The ground had saturated to the point of all the trail being slick and muddy.  This is the 1st time I have ever wished I owned trail shoes.  The lugs would have helped a little bit.  Most areas it was easier to run the far edges of the trail to get a little grass for traction.  The hills became more and more of an adventure.  I passed 2 people in this section, moving into 2nd place.  I hit Butler Lake aide station in 71 minutes - Losing 7 minutes to my out time.  I was happy to see Kristine Hinrichs who volunteers at this aide station - I gave my traditional loud "Yeeehaaa!" as I climbed the stairs out of Butler Lake.   Joel heard me and yelled back.

Now we were on trail that the 120+ 50k people had run on twice and it was completely gone.  I think we were all forced to walk many of the uphills as there just was not any traction.  The downhills were almost as slow because you would plant your foot and slide a few inches or feet.  I came to the realization that all the mud and squishy trail had zapped my legs and I continued to struggle more and more.  Some small hills were so sloppy that I was not running as much as I would have liked.   Between the constant rain and traffic even the grass on the edges was just mud.  I fought hard on this section, but was making horrible time.  I did not see Joel.

I came into the Hwy 67 aide station and I was starting to get cold.  I opted not to waste the minute it would take to get on my coat.  A level of frustration was setting in from the constant fight with the mud.  I had fallen 5 times - But luckily there was plenty of rain to wash me clean.  I did not do the math until right now - But I left the aide station 6:41 cumulative time, so I did the section in 64 minutes = +8 minutes.

I ran the 1st 10 minutes pretty hard to keep out of site of Joel.  I can shuffle really fast ~ but the mud was sucking me down.  I started to get my heart rate maxed out and having problems breathing.  My legs were tired, but still worked and my energy was good.  But it was now a constant battle of running until I was lightheaded and then walking until the heart rate came down a little.

Finally with about 4 miles to go, Joel caught me, I could not go with him.  I started to go into survival mode, trying to finish as fast as I could, because I was getting scared about hypothermia.  Ding-Ding-Ding ... the bell went off - I was way too cold.  I stopped and got out my coat, my cold hands fumbled for at least a minute as I stopped in the middle of the trail. Time was moving really slow.  I would work hard for what seemed like 15 minutes and look at my watch to see it had been 6 minutes.  I went through the rock garden area as best I could and started to look for the spur trail to the finish.  15 minutes after I put the coat on, my breathing issues went away and I started to move decently again.  Finally I saw the spur trail sign, I looked at my watch 7:40:38 ... 2 weeks before my friend Chad and I had run this section in just under 20 minutes.  I was pretty sure I could not catch Joel, but I could break 8 hours.

The last 1.5 miles of trail are either downhill or flat.  I was flying or I should say squishy and splashing my way down the trail.  If someone had their sights on catching me for 3rd, they were out of luck.  I hit the 1 mile to go sign and I had 7:50:43 on my watch ~ With 3/4 mile of road left I knew I would finish under 8 hours.  I even permitted myself one last 20 second muddy section walk.  I hit the road, running hard and smooth ~ it was so nice to be on solid ground again.

I hit the finish line in high 7:58 ~ Slopping through the last section in 77 minutes = +15 minutes.  The finish times below are what I heard at the race - The splits are estimated from when I met Chris and Joel at the turn.

1st - Chris Rubesch  7:33 (3:30 / 4:03)
2nd Joel Lammer 7:57 (3:46 / 4:11)
3rd Michael Henze 7:58 (3:45 / 4:13)

I stayed an enjoyed hanging out and talking to people for 4 hours.  By the time I left there were still 6 people on course and it was 46F.  Robert Wehner and all the volunteers always make this a great race and a good time post race ~ Thank you all!

This is one of those days that was fun - miserable - epic all in the same race.

Good running to all -

PS - To the question on fueling.  The 2 things I love about Vi Fuel (These are gels):  1) Consistent energy - These is a blurb from their website

Vi Fuel, like other energy gels, starts out with maltodextrin as the primary carbohydrate. From there, Vi Fuel takes a different path….
Most other gels use Fructose or some sort of rice syrup or evaporated cane juice, all containing Fructose. Vi Fuel uses Dextrose as its secondary carb, a more expensive (on our end) option, but one that your body has a much easier time digesting.

2)  I never get that icky, sticky - I want to throw up if I even think about taking another gel type feeling.   Additional info:

Most of the nausea problems associated with energy gels (or drinks) are a direct result of the kind of simple sugars used.

During this race I took gels every 20 minutes, h20, 2 cups of heed and 5 s-caps.

I feel Vi fuel takes on of the variables out of the ultra-performance equation - If you can count on your energy being steady, you can focus on other things.

If any readers are interested, I do have a few 25% off coupons for up to 2 boxes of gels.  You can always contact me via a PM at - I am Dopplebock.  

Now I am even more excited for the next event that I will use Vi Fuel - Desert Solstice 24 hour. 


  1. Glad that you had a good race. I was wondering how it was going, since it was even pretty tough (cold and wet) working at the aid station.

    Take Care,


  2. ding, ding, ding. great write up.

    though you didn't say how the Vi Fuel worked. you still did gels, did it replace fluids?

  3. Awesome report! I remember you passing me on the way to the finish. (I was just a slow 50Ker.) Congrats on taking 3rd!

  4. Way to crank it under 8, Mike! God knows that course on a dry day is tough enough. And you darn near nipped Lammers in the end. He is a great guy. Rest up, recover qickly and off to TN you go. Take care of yourself my friend.

  5. Great job Mike in tough conditions on the way back.

  6. Thanks everyone

    Craig - Joel is both a great runner and a good/ fun guy to hang out with. We sat around together and talked to people / drank beer for at least 3 hours. I stayed a little longer until my friend Angie came in.

  7. Mandy - I think anyone out of the trail Sunday has an epic story to tell for years to come. We all share the experience of "Rainageddon"

    The great thing about ultras - I seem to learn something from every race, either about myself or knowledge I can use for future races. This race had an abundance of lessons.