Interview with Race Directors: Ann Scholl & Scott Conklin, Titletown Ultra Series

Nestled in the heart of Packer Country approximately 15 minutes east half north of the famed Lambeau football field is one of the most unique and well organized races I have participated in over the last few years, the Titletown Ultra Series.  This event has all the warm fuzzy feelings of a trail event with the amenities and perks of a big city event.  The closely knit team of Ann Scholl and Scott Conklin, roll out the red carpet for participants with a well organized website, tons of social media (Facebook & Instagram – #titletownultra) posts, easy packet pick up both day before and day of, group training runs, great swag, and amazing volunteers that impressed even this veteran! From start to finish the event was FUN!!!  It is one of my most anticipated races on my 2017 schedule.

Intrigued by how this team comes together to pull off such an amazing event I was able to sit down and ask the Titletown Ultra Series team a few questions.

Titletown Ultra Series

  • Events – 6 Hours, 8 Hours or 15.5 Hours
  • Date – June 24, 2017
  • Location – UWGB Green Bay, WI
  • Course – Trail
  • Established – 2011
  • Previous Year Participant Total –
  • 2016 Swag – Long Sleeve 1/4 Zip Jacket, Buff,  &  Finishers Mug (2017 Swag – TBD)

Q:  In what year did each of you both start running?

Scott – 2009 with the Bellin 10K (at age 49 having never been a runner before that)

Ann – I began running again in 2003 (after having 4 kids) I started by running just 2 miles at a time. I moved up into the distances slowly. Starting with my first Bellin 10K in 2005, my first Half in 2006, 1st Full marathon in 2007 and all the way up to my first 100 miler in 2014.

Q:  Road vs Trail – which do you prefer? Why?

Scott – Hands down it is trails. Probably the biggest reason is that it gets me out in the woods and away for the city. I also like the added challenge that running trails provides and the mutual support that you find with trail runners.

Ann – I agree with Scott, my favorite are the trails, especially the rooty/rocky ones…or what I like to call running “R&R” 😉 There’s nothing better than a challenge and what better place than in the woods!

Q:  How do you think running has changed over the past 10 years?

Ann – More women are running now than ever before, although, I’m not surprised. When I started running marathons, I did not have any other friends that ran. The best part about this? I’ve met the most amazing women (and men) who share my same passion for running over the years!

Q: Why do you feel recreational running continues to grow?

Scott – For me, it is not just the exercise aspect, it is the social aspect. Running has gotten me into great physical condition and also introduced me to a whole new group of friends.

Ann – Recreational running is the best…because it’s FREE!! Meet up with friends at any given location and you can enjoy time together! Time afterwards, at a coffee shop or bar, is a fun little bonus many of us enjoy.

Q: How do you feel about the increase of trail runs that have popped up recently?

Scott – I think it is great that more people are discovering trail running. More races give more options.

Q:  What type of impact have you seen on the running community and/or races with the growing popularity of social media?

Scott – Social media brings the running community together. It makes it so much easier to get a group of friends or strangers together for a run or to share information. A quick post can make a solo run turn into a group run. It gives runners opportunities to explore new places to run as invitations pop up. Social media makes an event like our possible. We do no formal advertising. It is all word of mouth and shared postings.


Q:  How did the Titletown Ultra Series come to be? Where did the idea for such an event evolve from?

Scott – I’ll let Ann answer this one. She created the race.

Ann – The part not included?: A fabulous lady was running a 50 miler in each of the 50 states. Her name is Lisa Smith-Batchen (Ted Talk: 20 years of Mondays –  changing passion into purpose). She came to Green Bay and ran the Arboretum trail (the same course we use for Titletown). I ran with her and several others from the area for a couple hours. Then in November, a friend invited me to run a 6 Hour event down in Illinois, but could not fit it into my schedule. I pouted. Then I decided, “Fine. If I can’t go, I will just make my own 6 Hour run!” LOL   

Here’s more of the story: http://www.titletownultra.com/history

Q:  You operate as a team to pull the Titletown Ultra Series events together which is not the norm for running events.  How do you make this happen?  What are some of the strengths that you see with a team versus sole race director brings to the table for your event? 

Scott – We both share a vision of what the event is and what it can be. We are very passionate about success of the event. We each bring our own strengths and experience to the planning. Ann brings the experience of far more races than I have been a part of. I bring the organizational side to work out the logistics. We have a mutual respect for each other.

Ann – Exactly! Scott is very organized and that really helps me concentrate on some of the creative aspects of the event.

Q:  What is one thing that you think the running community would be shocked to learn that happens behind the scene of a events such as the Titletown Ultra Series?

Scott – We wing it a lot. No matter how much you plan there is always something that comes up. Make a decision and sound confident in you answer and everyone will just think it was part of the plan all along.

Ann – Race Directors have the task of trying to anticipate problems and then have a contingency plan to avoid anything affecting the runners. Ultimately, it does sometimes require us to ‘wing it’, but that is not our preference.

Q:  Early summer is a busy time for races in the Midwest, what do you fell sets your event apart from all the others?

Scott – We don’t have a typical ‘Finish Line’. Our finisher’s are not forced to acquire a distance to have a successful run. For that reason, people will push beyond their perceived ‘limits’ to surpass distances and/or a pace they did not know they could!

Ann – We also do our best to keep it fun and supportive.

 

 

Q: The Titletown Ultra Series is set up as a loop event.  Could you explain this set up for runners who are unfamiliar with this type of course?

Scott – The course is set up as a 4.75 mile loop with two mid course aid stations. Since there is no set distance for the event, this allows many options to hit the mileage they want. From the start to the first station is .9 miles, aid station 1 to aid station 2 is 1.7 miles, and then it is 2.15 miles back around to the start/finish. To hit key distance like a marathon it is 5 full laps plus running on to aid station 2, a total of about 26.35 miles. 10 full laps and on to aid station 2 is 50.1 miles. We have charts at every aid station that gives the complete breakdown of mileage. You don’t have to worry about doing math while you run. You just run the lap you are on. We keep track of each runner’s Laps at the start finish area. You can finish at any of the three locations. We’ll even give you a ride back to the start/finish. The loop format also makes drop bags easier. You only need one because you pass it every 4.75 miles. We set out tarps and let runners place their own gear so there is no searching to find your bag. You don’t have to worry about moving you bag to the “done” pile to be sent back to the finish. This also give you much more freedom it what you can bring. Coolers and chairs are fine. This is a very spectator/crew friendly set up. They stay put and you come back to them every lap. This also allows the volunteer to get to know the runner better and anticipate their needs as you see each other more than just one or twice.

Q:  What are few interesting sites along the loops of the Titletown Ultra Series?

Scott – The course starts by taking you down by the bay of Green Bay. After aid station 1 you head into the rolling hills through the woods. Before aid station 2 there is a run along the edge of the prairie. After aid station 2 you head up run along a short section of the Niagara Escarpment through a thicket of white cedars. For many this is a favorite section. As you come off the escarpment there is a very short side trail that takes you to a small stone chapel built in 1925. As you leave the woods keep an eye out for the variety of wildlife that inhabit a small pond next to the trail. As you finish the loop you run along side of the Shorewood golf course and across the wooden bridge that inspired our logo.

 

Q:  On a scale of 1-5 how difficult is the Titletown Ultra Series course? (5 being super difficult rocky, hilly, muddy terrain)

Scott – I would say 2. It has enough to keep it interesting but nothing that will scare away new comers.

 

Q:  You offer 3 different event options 6, 8, and 15.5 hours.  Could you explain how a timed event is different from other ultra races? 

Scott – This format allows each runner to come in with their own goal. There is no set distance. No requirement to run the full time. When you reach your goal, you can stop…or continue, as the time allows, to see how much farther you can go. There is no DNF. You choose the time that you feel you need to reach your goal or to challenge your limits.

Q:  Speaking of ultra races…what defines an event as an “ultra”? Is the Titletown a good 1st timer event? If so,why? 

Scott – The traditional definition of an “ultra” is anything longer than a marathon. We don’t follow that exactly. You can run Titletown and not even hit 26.2 miles. But you can also push your limits and go well beyond the marathon mark. The layout of the course makes this a very good first time event. You are never more than about 2 ½ miles from an aid station. You are running a loop course so you are at your drop bag every 4.75 miles.

Q: What type of things would a runner expect to see different at this year’s event? 

Scott – We try to do something each year to keep it fresh. We are picking out new swag right now. The skeletons, Jack and Jill were a big hit last year. There may be other surprises out on the course to watch for. We are also working to come up with an award for the first person to hit the 100 mile mark. We are working on a few more additions that we are not ready to announce yet. Watch the Facebook page for updates.

Q: For all the traveling runners coming into the Green Bay area for the race, what are a few things they should make sure to see/do while in town?

Scott – It is the Titletown Ultra so you should at least drive by Lambeau Field.

Ann – Our personal favorite restaurant location is, of course, the Titletown Brewery in downtown Green Bay!

Q:  What is your favorite memory from the last 5 years of the Titletown Ultra Series? 

Scott – It is hard to pick out a single favorite memory there are so many good ones. Tops on the list is seeing the mix sheer joy, exhaustion, and pride of the runners as they hit their goals and push themselves farther than they ever thought they could.

Ann – Personally, I enjoy seeing runners head back out on the course after they announce that they are done, even though they still have time. I can be very convincing 😉

 

Reserve your spot for this awesome event – registration will open January 1st.  Whether it is your 1st trail event or your 100th, you are sure to have a GREAT time!

#BeHappy #BeKind #BeActive

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