January 15th, 2011: The Frozen Otter

January 15th, 2011 I participated in the Frozen Otter, a 64-mile adventure along the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. The trail was snowy and no skis, snowshoes, or other assisted-transportation methods were allowed. Just me and my feet, trudging through the snow one mile at a time (I tried to do it two miles at a time, but found it went much slower.) Considering the distance that needed to be traveled, I left my camera behind for this one.

I was carrying a small pack with a change of clothes, emergency shelter (any piece of plastic that could cover your body - I used a tarp), first aid kit, food, water, and a couple other random things I didn't use and regretted carrying. In the parking lot before the race, I realized I may have bit off more than usual when the lady parked next to me, who happened to be wearing a jacket from some ultra-marathon, asked me the farthest I had gone before in a race:

Bernard: "Nothing even close to this far."
Lady: "But, how about in training, the farthest you've gone?"
Bernard: "Yeah.... nothing this far."

But I pulled them quick-draw laces on my new Salomon Gore-Tex trail runners tight and hit the snow running. It was just a hair over 15 degrees but the movement kept me toasty with minimal layers. There were a lot of ups, which I walked to conserve energy, and downs, which I ran to gain speed, along the beautiful scenic hiking trail. The runners ahead of me did a fine job packing down the trail and I felt quite good knocking out the first 16 miles in a shade under five hours.

The first half of the course was an out and back, and the back proved quite nice because the trail had been further packed by the other racers. The sun began to set around mile 24 and the night hiking on a cloudless night was spectacular. I hit the 32 mile mark after just over ten hours and pretty much everything below my waist was in pain. So, that's where I ended my race in exchange for a double cheeseburger with three types of cheese.

Next year, I'll train for it and hit the full 64.

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