Monday, December 31, 2012
But then I raced it again this past weekend, and again, it kicked my butt. It was still mostly straight, mostly flat, with marginal snowpack. But it was not easy, and it was not boring. And after further thinking, that's exactly the reason it is hard, and fun. Tuscobia Ultra is a rail trail in Central Wisconsin in late December. It is not -20F with 3 feet of snow, it is not relentless hills, it is not remote Alaska. But it is a race now embraced by a small town where you can stay in a hotel for $35/night next to the factory that made your blue ribbon fly rod, have Race HQ in a bar called the Chequamagon Canoe Club, get a police escort out of town, and pass more bars on the side of the trail with PBR signs than any other race in the country. The flatness and straightness of the course only adds to its toughness, both physical and mental, slogging the same gears and muscle fibers with barely any coasting. Although I swear the course is slightly uphill both ways. And the marginal snowpack...after hour after hour of constant focus on the best and fastest line, one only wishes for deeper snow, cold set to concrete like other races. When you do get a chance to look around, it's actually quite scenic: frozen swamps, rolling farm fields, mature oak stands, unincorporated towns, farmers working, people out walking their dogs. And the Tuscobia Ultra offers not only the full 150 mile option, but 75 and 35 mile versions as well with perfectly offset start times to intermingle with friends old and new during the race.
Last Spring Chris Scotch wanted my opinion on how he and Helen could change the race to improve it and attract more participants, and at the time I half-jokingly, and mistakenly, told him to change the venue, how naive I was. Now, after racing it again, I can't think of another way. It's a great primer for those interested in Winter races, a qualifier for the other races like Arrowhead and ITI, and a great venue for full on racing for veterans. The Tuscobia Ultra has it's own personality. I'm only surprised it hasn't caught on wildly yet, but maybe others have my previous mindset. What better way to shake the post-Holiday blah, I predict in the next couple years it will be crazy!
Thanks so much to Helen Lavin and Chris Scotch, all the wonderful volunteers, and the Tuscobia Ultra for a great race!