I’ve camped at the start/finish of an ultra before but I’ve never driven so far (1,000+km) and then camped for a couple of days. When my friend Sigrid and I planned this adventure, we decided that since we were driving (as opposed to flying) that we could bring anything that we could conceivably need. We called it “no item left behind” and let’s say that this is not the best strategy for camping. We didn’t even consider that the car wasn’t that big but we did manage to jam everything in!
The first day we drove from Toronto to Covert, Michigan and rented a little cabin. This part of the trip went great, we got there in decent time, the cabin was nice and we had real beds! When we checked in, we bought fire wood and then tried to start a camp fire. It turns out that while both of us have been camping a lot, neither of us have ever had to start a fire. So the whole fire thing was a failure.
On Friday, we made our way to Wisconsin and made a stop at a North Face store to pick up our bibs. We got some lunch and groceries and then we were off to set up our campsite.
Just as we arrived at the campground check in, it started to pour rain. Thankfully, our overpacked car had tarps in it! By the time we got to the campsite and unloaded, it was about 5:30pm. We decided our priority would be set up tarps, set up the tent and blow up the air mattress with our lungs (big mistake!). We didn’t realize that since we were so close to the time zone that it would get pitch dark at 7pm.
By 7pm, we had a partially inflated air mattress, tarps set up for the rain that never came and a pile of wood that we couldn’t make into a fire. Thankfully, we had headlamps so we could see! We ended up making dinner on a camp stove and then calling it quits for the night because my race started at 7am the next morning. When we went to get into our tent, we realized that we’d set up our tent on top of some kind of ant colony so it was covered in ants! We brushed a bunch off and then shuffled inside to realize that our tent was also on a huge slant but we were too tired to care.
On Saturday, we got up early, I ran 50km (you can read about it here) and then came back to the campsite to eat lunch. We decided that we should take a drive to Target because it’s great and isn’t in Canada anymore so we spent our afternoon that way. The rest of the day was uneventful until we went to go to sleep and realized the air mattress was half deflated. We were both super tired and Sigrid was running the 5km race in the morning so we decided to just go to sleep. This was another mistake, we were on a half inflated air mattress in a tent that was on a huge slant. I spent all night trying not to roll onto Sigrid and she tried to not fall off the bed!
Sunday, we were up early again after a not so restful night. We packed up the campsite and headed over to the start/finish area for Sigrid’s race. Her race went by super quickly and then we were back to driving to our next stop, an Airbnb in Michigan. When we planned this trip, we originally talked about camping on Sunday night but I’m so happy that we didn’t. When we got back to civilization, we stopped at a rest stop and bought all sorts of hot food/drinks (completely justified delayed post-ultra treat)!
Our Airbnb in Michigan ended up being a fantastic end to the trip. We had a real bed, there was electricity, a hot tub and the couple even took us on a pontoon boat ride around the lake!
Overall, the trip was a success and really fun but it did make me realize that my camping skills are not top notch.
The short version is:
- 2,000+ km of driving
- 2 successful races
- 4 states visited
- way too much coffee consumed
- a new appreciation for electricity and starting fires
What’s the farthest you’ve travelled for a race?