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  • 2 Jul 2020 9:24 AM | Jamison Swift

    It's been a busy summer so far on two of the long trails in our region, the Superior Hiking Trail and the Ice Age Trail. UMTR supports these two trails, and we've all come to love being on them, either for races or just for fun. Check out some of the amazing accomplishments that are happening right in our backyard!

    With many events being cancelled during the pandemic, it's a great time to get out there and do some hiking. Even small section hikes can be great training for the endurance required for ultras, and for learning more about the trails that we love. 

  • 24 Jun 2020 8:21 AM | Jamison Swift

    Greeting runners!  We hope you all dealing with a difficult 2020 as well as possible. 

    As you all know, many of the races in all of our race series have been either cancelled or postponed. At this point it is not clear that runners will have the opportunity to participate and complete three races in any of the Trail, Ultra, and Timed Series that are required to be eligible for awards, let alone all the races in the Gnarly Bandit Series. Further, we do not want to encourage participation in races under conditions that a runner may consider uncomfortable or unsafe. 

    Thus, the UMTR Board has decided to cancel the Trail, Ultra, Timed, and Gnarly Bandit Series for 2020. We are hopeful for the 2021 racing season, and to the extent possible we plan on keeping the scheduled races for 2021 the same as for 2020. 

    We have also made the difficult decision to cancel our annual Banquet, due to ongoing public health concerns. While we relish the idea of gathering with members from across our region to share stories and celebrations, we determined it would not be possible to create an adequately safe and hygienic atmosphere in our traditional potluck format. We do hope, however, to share a virtual address with members at the end of the year, to acknowledge the difficulties overcome and accomplishments made in a challenging year.

    The banquet also serves as our annual membership meeting, an important part of which is electing new Board members. We will still hold an election this year, through an electronic poll. In the coming months we will be posting nomination forms and information regarding how the election will be conducted.

    Stay safe, positive, and keep on running!

  • 18 Jun 2020 4:11 PM | Jamison Swift

    A couple of years ago, UMTR updated its mission statement to include the following phrase: “In our experience, the trail running community is tremendously diverse, welcoming, and open.” However it has become apparent that this is not the truth that many people in the trail running world have experienced. Trail running has never been known for being very diverse and it has struggled with carrying out a commitment to being an inclusive community. There are many who feel unwelcome in the trail running world and as a community, we need to do better.

    UMTR is not a running club, and we do not speak for any specific group of local runners. We are an organization that advocates for the betterment of trails and the sport of trail running, however, we feel that the injustices in the world we live in compel us to use our position to model a better way. We know that our community has lessons to learn and changes to make if we are to truly work towards our mission.

    Going forward, the UMTR Board would like to announce some initiatives that we'll be taking, in an effort to align our work with our values, and the future of trail running we strive to create. These are two specific actions that we feel are within our capabilities (as an all-volunteer organization), and that play to the strengths of what our organization can do.

    1. We will be intentionally seeking to add more diversity to our board of directors, and ensure that our board better reflects the composition of the trail running community.
    2. We will be using our platform to help amplify the conversations that are happening around our sport about race and equity.

    Therefore, you can expect to see more communication from us, across our social media platforms, over the coming months about racial inclusion and overall diversity in trail running. In particular, we will be sharing links to discussions and perspectives that we hope will help our community find real solutions to the issues that our sport is facing.

    We ask that through this process that everyone remain respectful and focused on our shared mission to build a trail running community that is tremendously diverse, welcoming, and open. We also welcome your input and feedback about how UMTR can do better.

    Also, during this time, we would also like to share some links to organizations that help promote diversity in outdoor activities. If you have the means, please give generously.


    UMTR Board of Directors

  • 4 Jun 2020 4:27 PM | Carl Bliss (Administrator)

    Dear UMTR members,

    We at UMTR want to acknowledge that our community is grappling with the murder of George Floyd and the injustice of racism that people of color in our nation have long endured.  It is our community's desire to be open and inclusive to everyone, and our belief that the outdoors, and running on dirt, is something that everyone can enjoy. We strongly believe that trails should be a place where people can feel safe and welcome, and we hope that our trail family continues to be one of equality, acceptance, and respect.

    We all need to do our part to dismantle systemic racism in the upper midwest and the United States as a whole. We at UMTR hope to be able to do more in the future to contribute to being a more inclusive community and acknowledge that this is just the beginning of the conversation that we all need to have. For now, if you have the means, we suggest you consider donating to the following causes:

    If you would like to share anything with us, please reach out. We are here to listen. 

    -UMTR Board

  • 11 Apr 2020 5:25 PM | Jamison Swift

    Well folks here it is, our Stir Crazy Solo Virtual Fatass results. Thank you SO much to everyone who took part in this fun event. We had close to 50 people submit their crazy short loop runs. 

    We've posted a spreadsheet of all the participants, so check out how many miles everyone took on. We've also created a photo album of all of the photos that people submitted with their runs.

    And last but not least here's the announcement video where we run down the various awards. A quick apology to David Hansen who also ran 26 miles. My filter didn't pick it up as a marathon distance, so I neglected to include is name in the video. 

    Thanks everyone, and can't wait to see people out on the trails sometime in the future. Until then, stay safe and keep running... from a distance. 

  • 29 Mar 2020 3:04 PM | Jamison Swift

    It's a rough time right now, but we're trying to have some fun with it. Check out our new UMTR Stir Crazy Solo Virtual Run and join in the fun!

  • 3 Nov 2019 8:57 PM | Jamison Swift

    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

  • 11 Aug 2019 5:30 PM | Jamison Swift

    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.

  • 27 Jun 2019 2:05 PM | Jamison Swift

    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!

  • 9 May 2019 6:48 PM | Jamison Swift

    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 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!

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