Monday, October 27, 2014

Poker Run 2014

This is the 4th annual MUDD Poker run!  I made a picture map of the course that measures at 3.5 miles. If you are familiar with the trails you will probably know all these spots. We will lightly mark the course with pie plates and arrows. If you feel lost, remember: Take the wide gravel path any direction it will get you back to the Sternes Woods Pavillion. 


1. Have fun!

2. You get 2 cards at the beginning of the run to start your hand.

3. Every loop ran you receive 2 cards. But you can not have more than 5 cards in your hand. It is your choice on whether you want to take a card or not. If you have 5 cards, you will need to discard cards before you take more.

4. Run as many loops as you like. Eat treats. Socialize and have fun!

5. Best hand at the end of the day wins the 2014 Poker run Trophy.

6. We will also have a trophy for most laps ran!

Run at your own risk, you are responsible for your own safety. MUDD or anyone helping organize this game is not responsible for your safety. This is a group of trail-runners getting together playing a game on the trails. 

Link to POKER RUN event page on facebook

Start Poker run by heading up the gravel path on the left, then turn left towards leg bone.

Turn Left at Leg bone

Keep heading down leg bone trail. This is "Brice's trail corner" Do not take Brice's trail.

Turn right off of legbone heading into pines. This is a straight shot that ends at the bike path.

This is where "Brice's trail" comes in. Stay on path

Stay on this trail "Brice's trail" crosses here

Turn right on bike path

Turn off of bike path to enter back on the wide gravel path
It looks like this 
Head up this hill

Turn left into the "fun track"

Follow this trail until you turn left towards the loopy hill. This turn is at the bottom of the hill the bike riders like to make ramps.

The trail ends at the power lines. Turn right 
Cross over the bike path

Then follow this trail

It ends here, then take a right.

Then take a quick Left.

Head this way

Stay to the left.

Turn right into the Pine forest

Cross over the wide path

Stay straight on trail. 

The trail ends here. Take a left and follow the wide gravel path back to the Pavilion.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

MUDD Ultrarunning Dudes & Dudettes Trail clean up day Veteran Acres/Sternes Woods

MUDD Trail Clean up crew
We had a great turn out at our trail clean up date. We started at 8am and had at least 30 people show up in shifts to work through 2 pm, then enjoy a hot meal afterwards. Our job this week was clearing trees in the wetland area of Sternes Woods. The Crystal Lake Park District crew went through the week before and cut down many invasive trees. Buckhorn, walnut and honeysuckle were a few. These are trees that are not natural to the wetlands. If the area around was not so populated, what would naturally occur is fires would come by lighting strikes or other natural causes. The natural fires would burn down the seedlings of these invasive plants. Instead these trees have grown so large they are sucking up the water table. The Park would like to return the lands to their natural state. This will make for a healthy wet land area and improve our water table. So we piled all these branches into a big pile and burned them. Everyone worked hard and we got a lot done.

After we all finished working we came back to the pavilion where John Fiornia made us all delicious food in his dutch ovens. Our work crew menu included

Breakfast- pre work food. Note that all this food was made on the fire from scratch:
Hot coffee (best coffee ever!)
Hot apple cider
Hot apple fritters

Mac n Cheese
Potato soup
Beef stroganoff
Hot coffee
Hot apple cider

The dog "Paddie" had a harness and pulled heavy logs to the fire.  He had been practicing this skill because him  and his master are training for a race where the dog pulls his master (Brian Korte) on skis. The dog was so proud to help.

Korte family dog "Paddy"

John Fiornia cooking up his delicious creations in a Dutch oven over an open fire

On the same day we had runners that had volunteered at the Frozen Gnome 50k. They decided they would run their own "Underground Frozen Gnome or UGFG". Some ran the whole 50k and others paced a lap or two. The runners were able to fuel up on the hot food John made. When they finished running many helped with the clean up, then the first shift volunteers finished and ran laps with the UGFG runners. This meant the five UGFG finishers always had someone to run with.  They even got a Frozen Gnome finisher medal and pint glass when they finished. It was such a fun day with so many things going on! We arrived at the park at dusk and left at sun down. A perfect way to spend a Sunday. I love our trail running community!

We had a huge bonfire burning the invasive plants- We just needed some marshmallows

Hard at work and having fun

So sweet

Joe Gow

My lovely friend Karen McVey and Kellie Walsh

Making new friends
Cold but having fun

young kids and teenagers enjoyed helping
Working "selfie" with me and a few of my "besties"
Ha ha! Look at all the trendy words I got in there.

Frozen Gnome 50k/10k, January 11 2014

Everyone lined up to get their picture taken with Brice Alt "The Gnome" photo credit Ilona Meagher

MUDDers had months of meetings and preparation for Frozen Gnome 2014. Lot's of love and caring went into planning a fun winter adventure. We weren't trying to come up with an easy 10k/50k, this was going to be a race that you would remember. Our goal was to give runners a great challenge with friends. We wanted them to all leave with a feeling of great accomplishment and memories of trail runner camaraderie.

The week of the race we had a snow base of 37 inches with much of that fresh snowfall. It was windy so there were drifts of snow on the course that were above your knees.  The day before the race we got 6 hours of freezing rain and race morning the temps rose just above freezing. The course was deep slushy snow. If you wanted to design the most challenging course conditions possible, Frozen Gnome 2014 is what it would be.

The night before the race we had our annual packet stuffing party. The driveway to my house was a solid sheet of ice. It had been freezing rain for hours. We were all feeling bad for the folks out marking the course. Geoff Moffat, Jeff Lenard, and Andrea Robinson. It took them hours but they all tromped through the knee deep slush and did a fantastic job! When they got back to their cars they found Andrea's car had slid in the parking lot almost hitting another car it was so slick and icy.

We also had some amazing guys out wrapping the pavillion in plastic and getting the picnic tables all set up for packet pick up in the morning. The Frozen Gnome Race Headquarters crew was Jake Burkhart, Tim Kruse and Alec Bath.

Jeff Lenard finished up marking the course then him and his wife Jean headed over to my house to help with packets. The Lenards are very generous like that.

Jeff was telling us how extremely challenging the course was. Him and Geoff  were predicting we may not have anyone finish the race under the 8 hour cut off. Jeff is a very good runner (he finished his first 100 sub 24 hours recently) If Jeff thought it was that bad we knew it was going to be an extremely challenging day. I should mention that the actually running course is extremely tough even in ideal conditons. Efforts were made to find every challenging hill in the parks to have on the race course. Each 5 mile lap has 1100 feet of elevation gain and 1100 feet of loss each loop, with 5500 feet total elevation gain and 5500 feet loss for the entire 50k. ...and we aren't talking gentle rollers.

We can always count on Edna Jackeline for a bright smile- photo credit Scott Laudick
We all showed up race morning to a bunch of cheerful trail runners. They were well aware of the tough course conditions and were already laughing about it. They all figured "If it was easy, everyone would be doing it". They were here positive and ready for the challenge.

Frozen Gnome Race start-photo credit Ilona Meagher

We all waited for the runners to finish their first lap. They came flying in. Much faster than we had all predicted but still quite a bit slower than last years times. We had a stacked field in both races so the slower times were a direct result of the tough conditions.

People were having fun, laughing at the pure ridiculousness of it. Everyone sounded like kids giggling about Butt Slide hill. At one point a couple gals came through the aid station with and said with a voice of defiance "they said this was going to be fun". We all laughed. We knew in some sick way they knew it was fun. Anyone that came and survived this race had great stories to last a lifetime.
The Legendary Dan Crouse- Photo credit Scott Laudick

From here on I'll finish this story up with a race report Jeffrey Lung sent me. He survived the Frozen Gnome of 2014 and does a great job and expressing the magic of the day.

The Famous Butt Slide Hill- photo credit Scott Laudick

Slushy, Slick and Sweet: The 2014 Frozen Gnome 50k Race Report
By Jeffery Lung

The 35 degree air greeting us on this morning of January 11 in Crystal Lake, IL, is a charming change. After enduring the polar vortex that brought negative temperature highs to Chicagoland earlier in the week, mid-30s and gray skies dare me to dress for the beach. However, the 37 inches of accumulated snowfall this winter remind me to keep my flip-flops in the closet, probably until July. Last night the Veteran Acres trails we will be running on were bombarded with rain, so we are in for a wintry mix of slush, ice, snow and lots of hip flexor soreness.

“I’m going to have to take it easy,” I say to myself, “or I’ll be just one spill away from six weeks in a walking boot.”

The start line is abuzz with cheer. Friendly faces from all over the area have come together for the second annual Frozen Gnome 50k, hosted by the MUDD Ultrarunning Dudes and Dudettes. I give race director Michele Hartwig a salutatory hug and chat with course director Geoff Moffat. After our short conversation, capitalized by Geoff’s sinister grin regarding the abundance of hills strategically placed throughout the race, it is apparent that we are in for a day full of excitement.

The race starts and through the first of what will be five 10k loops, my constant mind-body-mind feedback loop reminds me to take it easy. The snow is packed down in spots, not so much in others. The thawing rain has left much of the course a slushy and slick gauntlet of uneven terrain. Climbing the hills requires patience. Traversing down them requires caution.
And then there is Butt Slide Hill.

Jeffery Lung-photo credit Scott Laudick

Show me a race that invites runners to slide down a steep, snowy bank on their backsides and I will show you a race more than worth its registration fee. My first time down Butt Slide Hill reminds me why I love running ultras so much: despite the aches and pains associated with tough trails, I can’t seem to lose my smile born of the pure fun and exhilaration of exploring and experiencing my surroundings. Flying down Butt Slide Hill, I let out a raucous “Weeeeee!” I’m just a goofy kid drunk off life.

Shortly after, I find myself again focused on the trail. I have to concentrate hard to stay upright. Up this hill, down that one. Around this snow bank, zig-zagging over that one. Ankle high sloppy slush through this trail, cross country skiing through that one. For the rest of the race I will myself to tough it out, to just hang on through the sloppy stuff until the exciting once-per-loop respite of Butt Slide Hill.

The cheerful aid station at the loop start/finish line also pulls me through the rough spots. Cinnamon rolls, homemade cookies and hot soups highlight the runner’s buffet while an army of helpful hands and warm smiles rushes to my aid. I find myself pushing on against the elements to honor the volunteers for their hospitality.

My second and third loops include a lot of friendly conversation with those whom I’ve been leapfrogging throughout. But during my fourth and fifth loops, I find myself all alone, singing out loud to my winter wonderland surroundings. It’s all I can do to divert my attention from my achy body.

On my last loop, the only thing I can think about is hot soup at the finish line. When I finally get there, 7 hours and 9 minutes after starting, I work my way through the bevy of crockpots quick to warm my soul. With a full stomach, I notice that my feet are frozen bricks and my mind an overworked mush, but here I remain, happy as can be.

Completing a tough adventure like the Frozen Gnome tends to do that to me. And this year’s race wasn’t just tough for me. It was tough for everybody. Only one person managed to finish under five hours and that was Todd Siebert, who completed the race in 4:55:50, compared to last year’s winning time of 4:16:00. On the women’s side, Shelley Cook defended her 2013 crown with a first place finish of 5:47:21.

Finally home, heated by the comfy cotton of my Frozen Gnome hoodie and the wintery English porter filling my finisher’s pint glass, I kick my feet up and let out a satisfactory sigh. “What a day,” I say to myself.
“What a wonderful day.”

Frozen Gnome Race Planning Team

Michele Hartwig- Race Director
Karen Shearer- Assistant Director
Geoff Moffat- Course Manager
Brice Alt- Advertisement creator
Jake Burkhart- Danger Castle designer-Shirt Designer, Award creators- Gnome Headquarters Captain
Tim Kruse- Packet pick up Director
Alec Bath- Race set up
Evelyn Cooley and Tasha Hartwig- Nacho bar and food coordinators
Andrea Robinson and Ric Nienstedt- Course Marshal
Michael Johnson and Keith Daniels-Course Marshal
Anastasia Rolek, Jan Silverman and Crystal Hutchings- Course tear down
Brian, Andrea Korte and family- They did pretty much every job there, including opening ceremonies
Julie Bane-She donated hours of her time helping where ever needed

Plus many, many more valuable volunteers!!!!

It is such a great feeling to see a community come together to create a magical day. I am so proud of all the runners and volunteers at the Frozen Gnome 50k/10k. I love how running brings people together with different skills and personalities. We saw the joy this togetherness created yesterday. Everyone of you are valuable and the day would have not have been as special with out you. I love you all and I am so proud to be part of such a great group! ~Michele Hartwig

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tim Kruse- From Half to Hundred

Tim Kruse training on the Frozen Gnome 50k/10k race course in Sternes Woods
I met Tim in late 2012 when he came to a talk put on by Cari Setzler at The Running Depot in Crystal Lake, IL. At the time a half marathon was the farthest distance Tim had run. He was interested in a training program being hosted by The Running Depot and Fast Finish Coaching. It was a program written by Cari Setzler and coached by Cari and I. It was designed to get runners ready to run Earth Day 50k. Tim signed up for the program and soon started demolishing his goals and setting new ones. His final race for the season was a finish at Cactus Rose 100 in Texas. One of the most difficult 100 mile races in the USA.

I sat down with Tim to ask him a few questions about his exciting year:

Did you start the year out with any specific running goals?

I came into the year wanting to run my first marathon, do another Tough Mudder, and maybe a Spartan Race.  I was turning 40 so I wanted this year to be kind of special from a fitness standpoint. 

Tim Kruse at a Tough Mudder race

What races did you run this year?

Frozen Gnome 10k, Crystal Lake, IL
Shamrock Shuffle 8K
Gladiator Assault Challenge
Tough Mudder Chicago
SpartanRace Midwest Super Spartan
Earth Day 50k, Crystal Lake IL
North Country 50 miler
Rock Cut Triple Crown Series Finisher (Age group winner). Rockford, IL

Wow, that was quite a jump from your original goals for the year. Do you have one race that you are particularly proud of and why? 

I think I’m most proud of Earth Day 50k, my first ultra.  I really had no clue what I was doing, or really what it meant, I just knew I wanted to finish the race.  It’s a local race run by the MUDD Ultrarunning club, great course, well run with awesome volunteers. 

What was it like running your first 50k?

It was a new kind of hurt, especially miles 20-25 were the toughest, in training I hadn't gone over 18 miles because of an injury.  I think having a coach and a schedule on your first attempt makes it easier.  You get to rely on training when things aren't going your way.  The race was a great one to pick, Earth Day 50K, because it was local and the volunteers were just awesome.  It was definitely a gateway into longer distances.   
Tim Kruse coming to
finish line of North Country
50 mile-his 1st 50

What was the most important lesson you learned this year about running ultras?

I think learning from others' mistakes and successes, patience, and how to pace the distance properly for "my race" are my takeaways this year.  I think it took me until the Hobo Runs in Rockford to feel like I was starting to get things right.  I take the approach as I know nothing, and as long as I know nothing, I'm teachable.  I try not to get cocky, I don't get too high, too low, just rock steady in the middle.   

Tell me a little more about your 100 mile race. What was the course like? 

Tim Kruse at Finish line of Cactus Rose
100- One of the toughest 100s
in the USA
Course description: "No Whiners, Wimps, or Wusses : A nasty rugged trail run with Bonus Points for Blood, Cuts, Scrapes, & Puke. The course is best described as rough & knarly (technical)... understanding we made every attempt to avoid what is flat to find what is nasty. It was built more for entertainment than speed." This is the description from the Cactus Rose website and it describes the course perfectly.

What was going through your mind as you were running all those miles? 

As I went over 50 miles into uncharted territory I kept thinking that I only had 45 left, 35 left, 50K left, 2 aid stations left.  It made the race smaller and more manageable.  Even though I really enjoy running in the dark, I think one of the most amazing things is the sunrise on day 2 of an ultra.  They say it gives you a recharge and it did for me, what a blessing to look out over Texas Hill Country, there's so much life in a seemingly desolate place.  The last mile was the hardest on my body and the easiest on my mind.  My feet were so blistered I could barely walk, and and I had come to the realization that I was really going to finish, even if I crawled in the last half mile.        

Did you ever dream that one day you would be a 100 mile finisher?

No, this was like something someone else does, but not me.  It wasn't even a goal or a thought at the beginning of the year.  I think those around me knew that I could do it before I even thought about attempting it.  I still think I have to do it again because I'm so new to ultra running, and in some ways it's almost like I'm not really getting what it means to finish a 100.  I keep thinking if I did it, maybe it's not that hard.  I think the funny thing was people out on the course would ask me in bewilderment, "Why the hell would you chose Cactus Rose as your first 100?"  So maybe it was hard, but I'm still too much of a newb to know.    

What did you do for training? Is there any one or two things in training that you did that you feel helped in your training?

The heart of my training has been time on feet running, but for Cactus Rose 100, I had completed the North Country Run 50 mile race at the end of August, and then a 52 mile stage race 3 weeks later.  The 6 weeks leading up to Cactus Rose 100 I made a plan that had back to back long runs of 24-28 miles on Saturday and then 10-15 on Sunday plus a mid-week long run of 12-15 miles if I didn’t do speed work.  I think the thing that helped me out the most was hitting the gym and lifting weights.  As a speed work/strength workout I would run a mile at lactic acid threshold, stop and do a circuit of 25 frontal squats with 95lb, 25 deadlifts with 95lb, 25 kettle bell swings, and then do walking lunges with 20lb dumbbells 10 steps out and back.  I would do this for at least 6 miles and then a 2 mile cool down.  Sometimes I would hop on the stair master, bike, or elliptical as the cardio to change things up.  I’d do this on a Tuesday or Wednesday so it wouldn’t affect my long runs on the weekend.  I was also do a core routine several times a week.  I did a full 3 week taper with running, stopped lifting 2 weeks out, and the week of the race I focused on rest and stretching.    

What kind of shoe do you like to wear?  
Inov-8 Trailroc 245

My favorite shoe is the Inov-8 Trailroc 245 newer red color.  I wore this shoe at North Country Run 50 mile, Hobo Runs 50K, and Cactus Rose 100.

What do you use for nutrition?

On the 100 mile race I mostly used Ensure Plus and coconut water at aid stations.  I like to have Clif Shot Bloks Black Cherry with me at all times rather than gels and Raw Revolution bars have worked out really good.  I stay away from peanuts because of a slight reaction, and anything that has sugar alcohols in it like xylitol, mannitol, or sorbitol.     

What does your family think of your running adventures?

My wife has been very supportive with giving me the time to train and explore the world of ultra-running, but it takes its toll especially since we have young children in the house.  I’m looking forward to some dates with the wife and movies with the kids this winter.  I’ve also been told by other family members, we don’t’ understand why you’re doing this, in fact it’s crazy, but we’re proud you. 

Is there anything you would like to share?

This adventure will definitely continue.

Tim with his training and racing
partners in a Tough Mudder event