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Greetings UMTR community,
We wanted to take a moment and update all of you on the Gnarly Bandit Series for 2020. The Gnarly Bandit series has long been considered a difficult and brutal challenge for participants. To be a Gnarly Bandit you need to subject yourself to 5 of the hardest races in the Upper Midwest, all within a 7 month time span. It's not for the faint of heart, and many years only a few souls make it to the end.
Because of the amount of planning that needs to go in to attempting Gnarly Bandit, we want to give members as much of a heads up to possible changes as we can. Therefore, we want to announce that the 2020 Gnarly Bandit will remain the same as previous versions. That means that that participants will need to tackle, Zumbro 100, Kettle 100, Black Hills 100, Superior 100, and Wild Duluth 100K, just as before.
Due to a schedule change with the Kettle 100, which puts it two weeks apart from Black Hills 100, we spent some time as a Board considering a possible change to the Gnarly requirements. We considered adding other races and allowing participants to choose among a list, or even just swapping out one race for a different one to ease the schedule. However, after consulting with experienced and trusted members of our community, we decided that making a change right now was the wrong move. Becoming a Gnarly Bandit is tough, and we don't want to dilute that challenge.
However, we will be monitoring the 2020 series very closely, and are committed to continuing the conversation into the future. Thank you again for supporting trail running throughout the Upper Midwest, and we look forward to another wonderful year in 2020!
- UMTR Board of Directors
Today we bring you an inside glimpse of building and restoring the trails we love, from our current Trail Person of the Year. Enjoy!
Sugarloaf Re-route on the Superior Hiking Trail, June 12-14
By Stephanie Hoff
When I first heard about an opportunity to reroute the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT), I said hell yes! There is nothing like building a new piece of trail, having hikers enjoy it, and being able to proudly say, I BUILT THAT! To me, it is truly one of the best feelings on earth.
We were fortunate that we got both the Schroeder town hall and all of the food donated for the Sugarloaf reroute by Upper Midwest Trail Runners. When people can come volunteer and not have to worry about paying for lodging or food, it makes the experience possible for everyone.
Tamer, Trail Operations Director for the SHT, and I had pre-marked the reroute with pin flags and distance markers so we knew how long each section was. When you do a reroute, it works best if you split the project up into smaller sections. These sections are then worked on by one crew leader and his/her crew. For this project, we split it up into 9 mini sections: we had three crew leaders and three days to complete the project, so the hope was that each day, each crew leader could finish one section.
Tamer and I pre-marking the reroute with a measuring tape and pin flags in the middle of May
On Wednesday June 12th, the first day of the project, all of the volunteers, crew leaders, Tamer and Denny (the Executive Director of the SHT), met at the Schroeder Town Hall. We went over the project, showed a map of the area, talked about safety and then we were off to the worksite.
As much as our goal was to build trail, there are two rules even more important than building a trail. Rule number one - be safe, rule number two - have fun. After those two rules, if we get some trail built, then we’re pretty dang successful!
My mom’s truck was loaded with the lumber she picked up in Duluth, to be used for a section of new boardwalk. We got to work unloading the lumber, and staged it to be used on day two.
My mom’s truck riding low
Once the lumber was unloaded, we headed onto the trail to walk the new section. I like to walk a new section prior to starting. I’ve found by physically walking it, it really gives you an appreciation for what we are about to tackle. We could barely pick our way through the new reroute section we were about to create. There were trees in the way, lots of brush, and a low bog area.
Tamer going over tool safety
We divided the volunteers up into three crews; Michael, Tamer and I took our crews and got working on the tread. Tread is the main part of the trail that hikers walk on. You need to dig down, past the organic matter to the soil. Our goal was to build a 24” tread. The first section my crew worked on was mini section number one. We got lucky with pretty good soil, minimal rocks and roots. Just before lunch, we walked our section again and talked about what we were going to do after lunch. I find that by walking the section several times throughout the day, it really shows the crew what progress we’ve made. By lunch time we had most of the tread built and just had some fine tuning to do.
Volunteers starting to work on the tread
Lunch break is always fun. We chat, we laugh, make jokes. After lunch, it’s back to work, trying to finish up three mini sections for day one.
My mom and I enjoying lunch break
Next, we built tread, made rock piles and dug a burrow hole (a separate hole away from the trail) for ‘fresh dirt’. We used that dirt to fill in holes on the newly built trail. Digging and hauling from a burrow pit is exhausting. By 3:00 pm on the first day, we were all pretty spent, and decided to haul in the lumber for the boardwalk to switch up the pace a little bit. It took us almost an hour just to haul all of the wood into where the boardwalk would be built. We finished the day by walking all three of the mini sections.
Day one crew! Logan and Grant hauling in the boardwalk boards
We got back to the town hall for dinner. (Thanks again Upper Midwest Trail Runners) After dinner on day one, we took a group field trip to one of the highest spots close to Finland. The views were amazing!
Tom and Liz enjoying the view on our field trip
Day two started with a mandatory quick trip up the shores to World’s Greatest Donuts, for treats for the whole crew. After breakfast, we headed to the worksite again and went over tool safety and tread construction for those that were just joining us. We again walked the reroute and talked about what we hoped to accomplish. After day one, we had one mini section complete, and had a great start on three other sections. The goal for day two was to finish up mini sections 3, 4 and 5, start building the boardwalk (section 2) and get a start on section 6. That would leave us section 7, 8, 9 for day three. Everyone was pretty tired after the first day, but they still did great.
Tamer showing us how to build the boardwalk; a trip to World's Best donuts is a necessity
During day two, we came across soil that was not so nice to us. We had to pull many stumps, rocks and lots of roots; it’s funny how the soil can change so much in a matter of 100 feet. It was great seeing my fellow trail runners learning new techniques on how to build trail.
Mike and Marianna pulling stumps; the crew spreads out during lunch
Day two was a success! We got through almost all of the sections we were hoping to, and made a great start on the boardwalk. We were feeling confident we would be able to complete the reroute by day three. After cleaning up from day two, we went back to the Schroeder town hall for dinner. After dinner, I took the crew on another field trip to Minnesota’s longest train tunnel. It was a fun adventure!
Day two crew; field trip to the train tunnel
To say I was tired and sore on day three would be an understatement, but the ‘finish line’ was in sight! Day three breezed by. We finished up the boardwalk, made the approaches to it, and finished up the last couple of mini-sections. We had a wonderful hard-working crew and were done shortly after lunchtime. We walked the new trail with the entire crew that day and marveled how in three days, we completely transformed the landscape.
Everyone was so proud of what they had completed. We finished the day by ‘plugging up’ the old part of the trail so that it is now impassable. Wow! So happy about what we did in three days!
The Friday crew...what an awesome project; the boardwalk is just about finished
I encourage you to get out and be part of a trail building experience. It is truly rewarding. Trail people—they are what sets Upper Midwest Trail Runners apart from other communities. I’m so lucky to be a part of this amazing group.
After a winter that just wouldn't loosen its grip, and a canceled Zumbro 100 series kickoff, the Gnarly Bandit series finally got underway at Kettle Moraine 100 on June 1. Thirteen fearless would-be Gnarlies toed the starting line in on a muggy Saturday morning in Whitewater, Wisconsin. They braved humidity, thunderstorms, and miles of shoe-eating mud and standing water in the first race of the 2019 series.
At the end, seven crossed the finish line. Congratulations to Timothy Adamski, Tammy Davis, Erika Lohn, Faye Norby, Erik Raivo, Daryl Saari, and Ryan Wanless for clearing the first Gnarly Bandit hurdle!
Will this year's schedule favor the Gnarlies? It's one of those uncommon years when the next race up, Black Hills 100, is four weeks after Kettle instead of the more usual three weeks. More time to rest and recover ahead of next week's challenge! On the other hand, after a cool and damp spring, it looks like the weather patterns are shifting, and the next race looks to feature all of summer's heat. Will our seven remaining would-be Gnarly Bandits make it through the hills of South Dakota? We'll know soon! Best of luck, Gnarlies! We're all cheering for you!
Happy Spring! It might not feel like Spring out there right now, but we're in high trail race season, and many of you have already been hitting the dirt for some amazing adventures. We just got done with the UMTR aid station at the Chippewa 50K, and the following week many members took part in The Willow 10/20.
As we turn our eyes to upcoming events there are TWO awesome opportunities that we need you tell you about. Many of you remember the great trail work event that UMTR sponsored last year on the Superior Hiking Trail. We want to do it again this year, but we need your help!
On June 11-14, 2019 one of our 2019 Trail People of the Year, Steph Hoff, will be once again leading a crew of people, working on the Sugarloaf Reroute project on the Superior Hiking Trail. The actual work days are the 12-14th, and we can use as many bodies as we can get. If you can help with some or all of this, please email email@example.com and we'll get you in contact with Steph. UMTR will be helping provide food and supplies for the event, and we'd love to have a whole ton of our members out there showing how much we love the trail.
BUT, before that, on June 1st is our annual LaCrosse Fatass! If you've wanted to see what the Hixon 25K/50K race course looks like, this is your chance. Come on out for a great day of trail time with awesome people. Check out the Facebook event, or our website event to RSVP. Everyone is welcome!
See you on the trails!
A Call for Volunteers at the UMTR Aid Station at Chippewa!
While many of you are planning for your first races of the year, we are also hoping you can take some time to volunteer with us at our first UMTR sponsored aid station of the season! We will be staffing an Aid Station at the Chippewa 10k and 50k races on April 27th, and we'd love to supply a full complement of volunteers for the day. Help us to support these hardy runners as they traverse the springtime trails!
When: Saturday, April 27th
Where: New Auburn, WI (Exact aid station location will be shared once volunteers have been committed)
Time: Set up at 7am, tear down at 4pm
If you can only make it for a few hours, please still feel free to sign up and just indicate the hours you can be there.
In 2018, we were pleased to have Randy Kottke as our sponsor of the Trail Run Series. Late last year, even as he underwent treatment for the leukemia that would later claim his life, he spoke of wanting to sponsor the series again. This community of runners meant so much to him.
So this year, we're honored to have been contacted by an anonymous donor, who wished to sponsor the 2019 Trail Run Series in Randy's name.
This generous donor writes: "You will not be remembered for your wins and DNFs. Nobody will remember the time it took you to finish. You will be remembered for the way you behaved, for trying your best and, mostly, for all the people whose lives you've impacted while out there. So go, try your best, face the challenges, and feel alive! But never forget to say "thank you" to volunteers, never forget to cheer for others, never forget to offer help, and feel no shame if you need help yourself. Live in the moment, appreciate what life has to offer, and be yourself! Randy exemplified all this and will live in our hearts forever."
Here's to The Rambler.
We hope that all of you are finding a way to enjoy the wet Spring that has taken hold over us here in the midwest. The mud and muck are a part of the changes that we experience every year in our region, and we know that on the other side of these changes, good things are coming. As the seasons change, UMTR is also moving into a new season in its life.
UMTR is a non-profit, and as such, it's important that we reflect that. Starting this weekend, we will be rebranding ourselves under UMTR.org. The .org domain is the traditional domain for a non-profit, and we feel that this better speaks to our mission as a community that gives back. Don't worry about the old umtr.net domain; it'll still be there, redirecting to the new umtr.org domain. Going forward though, all references to UMTR will change to umtr.org.
One of the biggest issues that UMTR has faced is finding a good way to retain members year-over-year. Oftentimes, folks forget to renew their membership, and so we lose them as members for years at a time. Thankfully, there is an easy way to solve this with technology. Launching on Sunday March 17th, UMTR is getting a brand new website, along with a full CRM (customer relationship manager) tool. What this means is that when you sign up for your yearly membership, you can opt to auto-renew, and never have to worry about it again. You'll have a user account which you can use to log in to your profile and keep your contact information up to date. You'll also get access to special areas of our new website, created for members only.
This also means that we are now switching to a 12 month membership, instead of a calendar year. (Finally!) If you sign up in March of 2019, you're good to go until March 2020. If you wish to participate in the race series, you need to maintain your membership throughout the year, including the banquet, to be eligible for prizes. With more and more trail running taking place in the winter months, we felt that it was important to acknowledge that we are not just a three-season sport - or community, for that matter.
Important: If you're currently a member - which you should be, if you're getting this email! - you'll be receiving another email in the coming days. This email will prompt you to set up your account on this new website. Please take some time to poke around in our new internet playground and share your feedback with us.
Finally, we want to say thank you for all of your support as this organization has learned and grown. We want to continue to build upon the organization we've all loved for many years, and we can't want to bring all of you along on an exciting journey. With a wonderful community such as this, we can't wait to see what amazing things happen.
- UMTR Board of Directors
Today, we're introducing Performance Running Gym, sponsor of the 2019 Gnarly Bandit Series. Thank you, Mark Johnson!
Performance Running Gym is a gym for runners by runners. Performance Running offers Woodway treadmills, a full weight room, personal training, group classes, recovery services, race coaching, nutrition help, physical therapy, and chiropractic services – a one stop shop for all things running. While all of those things are a huge part of PRG, the community at PRG is really the heart and soul. Monthly memberships currently offered at $44.95/month.
Located at 4940 W 35th Street in St. Louis Park.