Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ice Age 50 Mile...... again. But things are changing

I am not one big on "streaks", although I have at times been inadvertently caught in one.

The most common one is the "I have run x days in a row".
The other is the
"I have run this race x years in a row"

Well, I am caught in the second. Not sure how it happened, because I am not a big fan of the streak.

So in walks Ice Age 50 mile. This race has become my favorite race. It strikes the perfect balance of factors which are in my "zone". Here are some reasons why

1 - Course - It has everything to offer. Technical, flats, hills, scenery. People see it as an "easy" course, but it is really not. It is hard enough to make you run a smart race, but no too hard where it tears you to pieces. You can actually run most of the race.

2 - Time of year - Mid may. Almost never hot. Usually 50s or 60s, often rain/cloudy/overcast/ etc. Rarely hot and humid.

3 - The people - I have tons of great friends who show up every year to represent, set the bar, and put it on the line.

But this year should be a little different......

Last year I was surprised to get an email in late February from "tater Todd" saying I better sign up quickly, as it will fill up shortly after. I was surprised, as the prior year one could sign up on race day (and here we were almost 3 months from the race).

I was also surprised at the race last year the large influx of "newbies" to trail running. I am all for "newbies". I embrace anybody who wants to be a part of this community. But this class of noobs was a little different from when I was a noob. I almost go the feeling that people weren't getting their "cahce" from marathons, so they graduated to ultras to be cool. One can see it in the amount of gear people think they HAVE TO HAVE to run these. Even a 50 miler. (and this is a 50 you can run with almost nothing because of the copious amount of aid stations and frequent access to drop bags).

Enter 2012. The community has been changing, and is showing a much different face. The race director decided to create an official website instead having the site an extension of the Badgerland Striders site. Good call. It used to be tricky to find the site, and it had become a nationally recognized race. It needed it's own (I am not sure if I have that 100% correct with the Striders, so sorry if I am wrong).

So the RD ran into some snags with the website development. No big deal. It was delayed going live. No big deal. Heck, it is January. Who needs to worry about a race in May? Well nobody told that to huge influx of noobs. If you go to the facebook page for the race, you can see threads of people freaking out that the website isn't up yet. One person even commented by saying "Radio silence - for the past week - wouldn't be the way I'd want to treat runners who are interested in participating in my event..."

Wow... Tough crowd. This person went on to defend his comment and saying that there was no disrespect. More surprising were the people who "liked" his comment.

I don't think people realize that trail ultras are much different than typical road races. They take a lot to put on. Sponsorship is rarely in money, but in free stuff. Resources are limited. Races typically don't make money.

Gone are the days of "you are responsible for knowing the course and markings". In are the days of "who marked this course?.... it is horrible. I got lost x times!"
(if you get lost at Ice need help)
Gone are the days of "results will be posted later this week". In are the days of "come on, this race was chip timed. Why aren't the results posted (this being said a few hours after finishing)"

So I signed up last night for this race, as I saw it was almost full. The website/registration went live Monday, and it hit the 300 mark yesterday. Limit is 375 (which I believe to be the largest), and that will be hit this week easily.

But luckily most of my Sconnie nemesis are on the list. And this year I will show up at least somewhat trained for the race.

And if I don't have a good race, I will pile on the race director and blame it on him.


wildknits said...

I have noted an alarming increase in the amount of litter people (noobs?) leave alongside the trail in numerous races I have been a part of in the last few years. I am not talking "micro litter", the stuff that accidentally slips out of a pocket, but full on willful tossing aside (off trail) of gel packets and other nutrition/beverage containers.

This seems to be a carry over from road racing where "someone" will clean up the course. The attitude seems to be that the sweeps are there to clean up after the "racers" (They are not. Their job is to take down trail markers).

There is much education that needs to happen in trail race etiquette for this increase in participants to be sustainable (ie: not get races kicked out of areas due to trash; not burnout the volunteers/race directors related to bad attitudes of racers and the mess they leave behind).

SteveQ said...

I never got lost at Ice Age - now THAT's saying something about how well the course is marked (plus it helps to have a guy standing at Confusion Corner telling you which way to go).

Anonymous said...

I'm no grizzled veteran...maybe grizzled, but I agree with many newbies taking liberties with trail litter. I'd like to see more of the races educate the runners on the websites, pre-race briefings and requiring runners to bring their own hydration containers for the race to reduce costs, litter, and wasted volunteer time. At a recent race I saw a collapsable, light-weight cup that would be slick. Also, I think this problem is compounded by the increased numbers of participants and crew of many of the area races.

And Steve...I'm always happy to tell you where to go! :-)

Bill P.

Adam said...

I think the RD's need to be super clear about litter and the consequences. It is almost impossible to enforce, though. I know a few races don't offer cups anymore, you have to use your own.

If any of you have an 'in' with the RD I want to to Ice Age, but waited too long :/