“Disclaimer: II received a free entry to the North Face Endurance Challenge Series WI 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!”
The North Face ECS in DC was my first ultra so the North Face races are always special to me and Wisconsin did not disappoint!
When I was given the opportunity to go to the this race, I had to figure out how I was going to get there and where I was going to stay. Thankfully when I asked my friend Sigrid about going on a road trip to WI, she was on board right away! When we started researching, we found out that the best thing to do would be to camp at the recreation area where the start/finish line was located. Our camping experience will be a blog post of it’s own but let’s say it turns out that we’re not the best campers.
On Friday afternoon, we stopped at the Brookfield North Face store to pick up our race kits and then headed to the campsite to set up. When we arrived it was pouring rain but thankfully it cleared up by the time we got to the site. We set up our site and went to bed early.
Before leaving Toronto, I had looked on the race website and found a 7:15am start time for the race. It turns out that I must have looked at last years website because when we showed up at 7:00am, the race was starting. I think I was one of the last people to start!
I spent the first road section trying to pass as many people as possible because I hadn’t been able to find a course map online so I didn’t know if we were going into single track. It turned out that there was no single track until km 18 so I really had nothing to worry about.
Because I didn’t see a map ahead of time, I also didn’t see an elevation map. It turns out that this is a relatively flat course, especially after running in the mountains for Black Spur a couple weeks ago. My race plan was to run the first 12.5km, take it easy through the middle 25km and then give the last 12.5km whatever I had left.
The first 12.5km went by extremely quickly because it was mostly runnable. Up to this point, the trail is mostly double track and has lots of room for passing. At 18km, the course goes onto the Ice Age trail and has some great single track. At that point, I was excited for some more technical trails and had a great time running through these trails.
Much of the second half of the race is run through prairies (I would call them fields). It’s flat and there’s no shade which is brutal on a hot day like it was. This is definitely not terrain that I’m used to running on and I was ready to be done with it.
The final 12-15km of trail is on horse trails and back on the double wide trail with rolling hills.
I had a really great race. I didn’t really have any low points (I don’t usually get this lucky). By 30km, I was really annoyed with how runnable the course was and wanted a hill so I would have an excuse to walk. The aid stations were evenly spaced out which was nice and they were well stocked. I told myself that as a treat, I could have coke after 30km – in an ultra it’s really the little things that keep you going!
I finished the race in 5:54, a PR for me. I didn’t go in expecting a PR but I think the dry, flat trails made it a great day for it. Overall, it’s a relatively easy course with not much elevation change, no technical sections and almost all runnable terrain.
The flattish course was killing my knee by the end so I was really worried about how sore I was going to be afterwards. Shockingly, I wasn’t sore at all. I kept waiting for it come but it didn’t, I even ran a 5km shakeout run on Tuesday. I wish I felt so great after all my races! After a whirlwind trip to WI with tons of driving, I’m happily back in Toronto and taking a few days to relax and recovered for the driving.
What is your during race treat? Do you have any pre-race rituals?