The First Annual Full Moon River Run was a great success. We had 11 runners, 4 of whom might now be interested in coming to the dark side of ultra running. The distance turned out to be 16.2 miles, and when one traverses a distance on snow covered ice, the distance really needs to be multiplied by 1.7 to get an accurate distance.
At 10pm, ten of us began running down the little trail behind the general store in Marine on St. Croix. Mike took an early lead as we headed north into the wind, looking for William O'Brien State Park. Crossing a little lake, we came to a running stream, and Helen stormed across a frozen patch. We navigated around open water by bushwhacking through a forested area, then through the boat landing area, and back onto the river. About 10 more minutes until we were at the northern tip of an island where we committed ourselves to a southerly run for the remainder of the evening.
It was here that I called Marty and told her to "up" the halfway meeting time. I was running back with Chris at a 9:15 min/mile pace, and up ahead I could not even see the front runners.
The group spread out for the next hour. I could tell by the footprints in the snow that everyone was following the group in front of them and that the front runners were running smart: staying close to the WI side, avoiding ice patches, using the snow mobile tracks only when they were advantageous, and cutting straight lines so as to minimize distances around river bends.
I caught up with Pete. It's been over a year since Pete and I have run together. We used to run once a week and put in 20 - 30 miles together at a time. It felt great to be running with my good friend again.
As we neared the halfway point, we heard voices from the left. Helen and Jake were plowing through a reedy area. They had gotten to the halfway point, turned around to run back to us, but had gone too far over to the WI side. (At this particular place in the St. Croix River, the river is a mile wide)
We gathered everyone* and headed up to the van where Marty waited. Helen drank her Red Bull, me my Coke, and we headed back down to the river to find Chris who was further behind. We found him, way past the halfway point. He said that he couldn't find where to get off so decided to just keep going - figured he'd eventually get to Stillwater! Wow.
*Hank and Mike didn't stop at halfway. Hank later said that it hurt too much to stop! Again, wow.
Well, Matt and Jeff took off first (Hank and Mike were actually first). Helen, Marty, and I then took off. Pete, Jake, Chris, and Shawn called it a night and drove the van back.
For a very short time, Marty and I ran with Helen. She is a gracious, running machine. Marty wanted me to take this photo to prove that she actually ran with Helen. I took two photos for extra proof!
The remainder of the run was glorious: full moon, no need for lights, running with my wife, fighting the cold, savoring life, thankful to be living where we live.
Marty ran ahead of me for quite a while because I cramped up so badly. At the end, Helen, Jeff and Matt were waiting for us.
We pulled in to Stillwater at 1:36am. Still don't know when Hank and Mike finished. They did a great job for being so concerned about not being able to keep up!