Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Clinton Lake 2009 Race Report

On Saturday, March 28th we held the third annual Clinton Lake 30-Mile Trail Run on the north fork trail at Clinton Lake State Recreation Area near Dewitt, IL. We had 125 runners signed-up for the event, but only 102 hardy souls toed the starting line...maybe the rumors of bad weather and 99 hills on the course scared a few racers away. It didn't scare the 21 volunteers away...they hung tough in brutal weather. We started the day with a morning low temperature of 33 degrees and a steady wind. We ended the day with high winds, steady rain, and a high temperature of 44.

The 10-mile loop course is ideal for tracking the leaders as they circle the lake on the single-track trail. The trail was in great shape for the first loop and both the women and men managed to set fast paces. Logan Martin was in the lead pack, but several men were close on his tail. Christine Crawford held the women's lead, but she too had a couple women pushing her. It was looking like we had a great chance for new course records...until the winds picked up and the rain arrived. Fortunately for the leaders, they finished most of the 30 miles before trail conditions deteriorated. Logan Martin held off his rivals and finished with a new course record of 3:56:20. Christine Crawford also held her lead and finished with a new course record of 4:29:50. They collected their trophies, finishers medals, and a small cash prize for setting new records. As is custom for this race, the champions are awarded a free entry into the next year's race. Hopefully Logan and Christine will be back to defend their titles in 2010.

While Logan and Christine managed to avoid the worst trail conditions, the mid-packers weren't so lucky. The back-of-the-pack runners were definitely not lucky. The steady rain, combined with over a hundred runners on a loop course, really chewed up the trail. There was mud and water everywhere and the hills became very slippery and hard to negotiate. No matter what curses the runners flung at the course, it wouldn't relent. At the finish line we started to see mud-splattered legs and mud-encrusted shoes...just what trail ultra running is all about!

The cold & wet volunteers did a fantastic job catering to the runners needs. Even with papers flying around and aid station grub being blown off tables, they managed to maintain their composure and encourage the runners to do "just one more loop." And the runners complied. Of the 102 starters, 88 persistent racers finished. The official race time limit is 8 hours, but we give an extra hour to the early starters, so the real limit is 9 hours. But what race director is going to close the course and remove the finish line while runners are still out there? This ain't the Comrades Marathon! No gates will fall if you don't make the limit. We had two intrepid runners stroll across the finish line in 9:43:18. Laurie Eash helped fellow runner Liz Vander Velde from the last aid station to the finish (last 4.5 miles). They both earned their medals...and a couple of special "last runner" prizes: custom-made pottery and a stuffed buffalo.

Later in the day, the rain turned to snow. A little farther north and west, ice was forming on roads and trees. Even with our cold wind & rain, we escaped the worst. No acute injuries were reported and all the runners made it home safely. That's success. Hope we can do it all again in Spring 2010.

Full race results
Race web site
Race photos
Pictures of the trail (not race day)

NOTE: The above two cool maps of the race course are from Ed Kirk's blog.

If you have photos of the event, put them on the web and let me know the URL. I'll link to them here. Thanks. Congratulations to all the finishers and a big "thank you" to all the volunteers and sponsors. We are pleased that Exelon Corporation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources have made the land available to the public for events like this race.

PS: Hey bro, if you are reading this, happy birthday to you from your little brother!

9 comments:

brian said...

Nice report and congrats on a successful event with 2 CRs! See you at muddy McNutty

Chris said...

Thanks Brian. Yep, I'll see you in less than 2 weeks at that darn muddy McNaughton Park trail!

Jerry Davison said...

"custom-made pottery and a stuffed buffalo"? ... if I'd known the prizes were that good I would have slowed down! That wasn't Tracy Thomas pottery was it?

Chris said...

Yes, Tracy Thomas made the pottery (but not the stuffed buffalo). You were too fast to be last. Those folks were 2.5 hours after you. That's what you get for being the heavy-weight champion!

ed said...

Great job Chris!

Your volunteers amazed me the entire day -- the aid stations were islands of warmth & enthusiasm! I'd like to give extra thanks to Gregg & Jeff, they made it feel like they were my own personal crew! See you at the starting line at McNaughton.

Chris said...

Ed,
Just added two maps from your blog to my blog. They are cool! Hope you don't mind. I gave you credit. See you at McNaughton Park. Good luck with your 150 mile race. I'll be doing the "baby" 100 miler.

Lori said...

Great job Chris!!Wonderful volunteers! They even helped me put my mittens on at the last aid station.Tough course, especially in the mud. See you at McNaughton!

Pheid said...

Jerry, et al.,

Tracy's pottery is gorgeous. She is very generous and often gifts people with pieces and I have a few bowls and a flower vase. Go here to see what she offers and to order:

WWW.TRACYTHOMAS.ETSA.COM

See you and everyone else at McNaughty/Nutty soon, Chris, and thanks again,

Connie :)

Jim Halsey said...

Thanks again for all the work you put into this Chris. I had a great time on Saturday. Really appreciate you and all of the volunteers standing out there all day in crappy weather. It was much easier to be running.
I thought the t shirt came out very nice. I liked the flow of the race going backwards this year too. Gave the field a chance to spread out at the start. It was nice to know you had the hardest side done when you got to the far aid station.