Woah! High Cliff Ultra 25k was an adventure. Last year I was unable to race due to a work trip my husband had in San Fran, so I was unaware that the course had changed. Holy bananas!!!! I was not ready for the climbing and when I say climbing think on hands and knees scaling upward. Tough, but so fun. Note to self through a high bun was not my best move…it got caught on several tree branches.
Let me back up a bit, the day started with the 50k runners taking off an hour earlier than the 25k runners. This is a genius move by the RD. With all the single track in the beginning of the race having both distances start together would have been a bottle neck nightmare. That is one thing you can always count on with a Nurun Co event, it is planned out from a runner’s perspective.
Mark goes to great lengths to organize the events to challenge participants, but also set the stage for success. The volunteers that support this event are top notch and many of which are runners themselves. Pulling into an aid station they know what you need and take great care of you. When having a rough day it makes all the difference when you have this type of team working to help you achieve your goal of finishing!
The day started hot and got hotter. Not to mention that the humidity levels were off the chart high. After getting some last minute instructions we were given the go ahead to start. As you head out into the park you must first survive the asphalt down hill. It is a challenge and takes focus to not loose your footing as there is often gravel on the surface, but once you get to the bottom it is into the woods you go for the good stuff…single trails beauty. The tree cover helped to lower the temps, but the air was thick and heavy. Most of us were sweating buckets before we even hit the first mile.
High Cliff is gorgeous though and even though you can only look up briefly to view the majestic landscape it is awe-inspiring. The terrain is varied and does require effort to look where you are at all times or a trail monster (rock and/or roots) will kick your ass and take you down. I am proud to report I stayed up right the entire race, which is typically not how trail races go for me. Throughout the next 5 miles we worked there were stairs up, stairs down, climbing and more climbing. It would have been very easy to get lost if the course had not been marked with such attention to detail and also the amazing volunteers at tricky spots. When we popped out off the single track and back to the road up to the start/aid station #1 we had the asphalt hill to contend with.
At the top your reward was the Bigger Than the Trail manned aid station with all the goodies one would need. We then headed back out to connect up with the dreaded prairie section of the race. This the portion I was weirdly looking forward too. I like heat. It doesn’t bother me. Sorry, I know that most people are cursing me for that right now. Listen I pay for it in the Winter when I have to put on 10 layers to everyone else’s one.
In the prairie there is very little shade and to many it is not the most exciting terrain to cover, but it is flat. I look at it as a recovery section from the beat down in the woods we just took. I was able to bounce back and chat with a new friend while talking myself out of quitting about a million times. There were 2 unmanned aid stations with water and ice. I was pleasantly surprised that there was tons of ice. I am a slow runner and often when you take longer things on the course run out. I was able to fill my bottle with ice and my bra. Aid station #2 greeted us as we went into the prairies and escorted us out of that section as well. The last 2.5 miles flew by. I had reached my limit and just wanted it to be over. Melissa and I said good bye and I took off in what felt like a nice paced jog but probably looked a hell of a lot less graceful than I envisioned in my head. Before I knew it I had to turn onto the single track back to the finish line. I remembered this section from the previous times I had run this race. It was a comfort to be in familiar territory and know that I had reached the end of the course.
Spent and disgustingly sweaty I was able to meet up with Allison and her friends from Madison. We chatted about how things went and all released it was time to head home for showers…we were gross. It was a great day! Even though I said I would never run this event again I’m pretty sure I will be back again next year. I should probably start taking my own advice and NEVER SAY NEVER:)
- Events – 25k or 50k
- Date – August 3, 2019
- Location – High Cliff State Park: Sherwood, WI
- Course – Trail
- Established – 2016
- 2019 Swag – Finishers Medal & EPIC Post-Race Pizza
Gear Used –
- Orange Mud VP1 – HC is a cupless event so all participants must bring their own hydration system or cup. Knowing that the temps were going to be on the warm side I wanted to have the option to easily add add ice to water to keep my core cool. I have worn this pack before when temps were high and it has worked beautifully. The fact that sits so high on my back leaves a large portion of my back free and cool.
- Tailwind Nutrition – I filled my 21 oz bottle 3/4 with water, 2 scoops of Orange Tailwind, and 1 cup of ice to start. This gave me a great base at the start of the event I continued to fill the bottle throughout the race with 1/2 water and 1/2 Tailwind. I also snacked on Swedish Fish the last mile. My energy level did not dip and I felt properly hydrated from start to finish.
- Oiselle – The temps were in the mid 80s to start. I started with Distance shorts paired with a Lux short sleeve shirt (should have gone with a tank-tan lines are bananas), and my Bigger than the Trail team hat. By the time we started it was HOT so I ditched my hat for high bun, which subsequently got entangled in several branches, but I felt comfy and cool throughout the race.
- Trail Toes Cream – I slather this stuff on before I put my socks on to prevent hot spots and also around the areas of my body that my hydration vest sits. When sweating this can create friction. TTC has been amazing at preventing this. I have not had an issue with body chaffing in years as a result. I also always care a mini container in my hydration pack in case I run into issues on the course.
- Salt Stick Caps – I took 2 caps per hour to prevent cramping and keep my energy level steady.
- Altra Superior 3.0 – I wore Altra Superiors. The lug soles came in handy with the varying terrain that is High Cliff State Park. I felt in control the whole time regardless of what was under my feet. They are no nonsense shoes with very little cushion and a ton of grip.