They call it a 38 mile fun run, but its really 37.3 miles. But it REALLY was fun.
The 37.3 mile fun run is part of the Kettle Moraine 100 Endurance Runs. The course is run on the Ice Age Trail, and Nordic ski trails, offering plenty of hills, trees, rocks, prairies, and scenic views. The 100 milers and 100Kers start at 6am, and run from Nordic to Scuppernong and back (that's 100K or 62Miles), and the 100 miles then run from Nordic to Rice Lake and back. The fun run entails the second leg, and begins at 8pm, and serves to add a few more bodies to the course to give the 100 milers a little company.
I ran this with my friend Dennis. We signed up a couple weeks prior, and had a chance to do an 8 mile night trail run about a week and a half before this ultra. We learned that one working handheld flashlight each would provide adequate lighting.
After running our first 50 miler 4 weeks ago, 37.3 miles didn't seem all that intimidating. Furthermore, the 16 hour time limit is a lot more generous than the 12 hour cut-off for the 50 miler, so we were not worried about time or pace. Also, we have traversed this route twice already this year. All elements that contribute to a fun and relaxed run.
We arrived at Nordic a little after 7pm, after dropping off our bag at the Highway 12 aid station. Bag was stocked with candy, gu, extra shirts, extra flashlights, batteries, and bug spray. The temperature was about 50 degrees, it was windy, and seemed very cold, especially for JUNE.
Chit-chatting with another fun runner in the parking lot, we looked over to see the fun run start. Oops. We quickly grabbed our stuff and headed off. Totally forgetting to get a good luck kiss from husband Bill. (For the record, Dennis has yet to get a good luck kiss from Bill.)
For the first 4 miles, there was still enough daylight to not need flashlights. By the time we reached the first aid station, it was pretty dark. The aid stations had lanterns, and really looked neat as we approached and saw them in the distance. Some had Christmas lights decorating the approaching path and the tents. We got to the turn around point (Rice Lake) in a little over 4 hours. Our return trip took a little over 5. With about 4 miles to go, the sun was starting to think about rising, and there was enough light to turn off the flashlights.
Trail running at night is a great experience. I am not a camper, so I have not been out in the wilderness in the middle of the night. Being out on the trails in the middle of the night was one of the coolest things I have experienced. The wind died down, the cloud cover was light, the moon was full. Occassionally, we would stop for a few seconds, turn off the flashlights, and just take it all in. It was so quiet and peaceful and calming and relaxing. It was great to share it with my dear friend, Dennis.