I was about half-way up the Indian Marker Tree Trail in Blue Mound State Park when the thought struck me: I'm running to the highest point in southern Wisconsin as training to run to the highest point in Waukesha County.Two of the races on my early season calendar - a couple of my favorite outings - feature two of the more vertically challenging courses available in the state.
As I headed to the top of Blue Mound, I was targeting the Bear Trax 20K at Lapham Peak this Sunday.
The race was created in 2009 as a memorial to Nancy Sellars, a local triathlete killed by a drunken driver while biking on July 10, 2008. Making good use of the peak rising to 1,233 feet, the organizers devised a course that would duly honor Sellars’ toughness as an athlete.
In simple terms: you go up the hill, you go down the hill, you go up the hill, you go down the hill, you go up the hill, you go down the hill, until your quadriceps turn to concrete, hopefully sometime after crossing the finish line.
I’ve done it twice, both times in the rain, and enjoyed it like a kid enjoys playing in puddles.
Aaron Nodolf, the winner in 2009, probably put it best: “It really embodied the purity of running, what it’s all about, going out there and having fun.”
Details: Race-day registration is open from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the Trekker Lodge at Lapham Peak. The race starts at 9:30 a.m., and the 4.3K Brownie Shuffle starts at 10.
Blue Mound: Even though it’s slightly shorter than the Bear Trax, I consider the Blue Mound Trail Run to be the tougher race.
A good portion of the course is on trails built for mountain biking - expert-level mountain biking. The rocks and dips and turns and flowing streams put a premium on fast footwork; and then there’s the climbing.
Runners chase to the top of Blue Mound State Park, 1,716 feet, in the first couple miles, then again in final stretch to the finish line. I have yet to finish the race without walking, and it’s only 18 kilometers, more or less.
My hope is all that hill work, and a good effort in the Bear Trax will put me in position to race for the honey on June 4.
On the road: There are good options this weekend for runners who don’t like to get mud on their shoes; both on Saturday.
The Deer Run in Brown Deer is a solid 10K that has become a good draw for competitors looking for an early-season measuring stick.
In Madison, the Crazy Legs Classic has become one of the biggest races in the country. More than 20,000 participated in 2010, and organizers are expecting to break that record once-again.