I am as dumbfounded to be writing this email as you will be to receive it. Late yesterday when we were out marking the alternate course I saw that the level of the Poplar River had gone down significantly from its peak a few days ago. The footbridge that crosses the river is the gateway to the majority of what was to be our alternate race course. While crossing it I found that the recent high and fast moving water had stripped away the rock armouring that protects one of the abutments that the bridge sits on. The rock armouring consists of massive stacked stones that have been there since the 1930s, protecting the river bank and thus the abutment. As a result of the loss of the armouring and an unknown amount of new erosion to the river bank from its pre-flood state, the bridge’s integrity is unknown. This bridge spans over 30’ and sits fairly high above deep and fast moving water. Given this extremely short timeline there is no way to get structural engineers from the managing agencies out to assess the bridge before tomorrow’s race. I had been over this bridge several other times in the past week and ironically noted each time how the bridge and abutments had remained unaffected from the floodwaters – this damage appearing sometime in the last 48 hours. While there is a chance that it “could” be fine, I cannot in good conscience put runners on that bridge. I was (literally) up all night trying to figure out how to pull another rabbit out of the hat and with the help of a lot of awesome people, we have. Read on.

Before I get to that, it is important to note that this is not the main / iconic Poplar River bridge that we use for the normal Superior Spring and Fall Trail Races, this is a different and lesser used bridge that crosses the Poplar River much further out of Lutsen.

With some quick thinking from the team here, we have come up with the following: should you choose to join on Saturday. Check in will be held at the normal times on Friday evening and Saturday morning. On Saturday 50K runners will get on buses in the large surface parking lot across from Caribou Highlands Lodge at 7AM, 25K runners will get on buses at 8AM, and 12K runners will get on buses at 9AM – each group will be taken to an approximate 2.1 mile (uphill / downhill) course (4.2 miles round trip) out of Tofte with an absolutely stunning view of Lake Superior at the top. There is about 600FT of elevation gain in the 2.1 mile uphill segment. There will be toilets at the start, but no shelter. Runners may run (close to) their entire race distance, run a little longer time permitting, or can cut it short if they choose – each runner will get timed / credit for however many laps they choose to run. Runners will have full aid every 4.2 miles. 50K runners can bring their drop bags and place them in a central location to work out of. There will be a cutoff at 2:30PM meaning no runner can start another loop after that time. You will receive your medal once you finish. Once you are done, there will be buses to bring you back to Caribou Highlands / Lutsen Parking. Chili, beverages and socializing will be at Caribou Highlands when you get back, just make your way to the party tent at the back of the lodge, where the normal finish line is, chili will be served until approximately 5pm. You can also go get cleaned up first and come back, your choice.

If you can, bring a plastic bag and some warm clothes, a rain jacket, etc. to stash in before and after your run. A plastic bag is key as we will not have a way to protect that many bags. Do not put valuables in your bag. Be sure to label your bag so you can easily identify it when you are done running.

Masks are optional on the buses but I am sure nobody would mind if the windows are open a bit for the 12 minute ride. There is very limited parking and it would not be safe to get dropped off at this location, so the bus is the only option. Your crew or spectators may ride the bus, space permitting. If they cannot get on the first trip, they can try to get on next time a bus comes back around. They are welcome to be at the aid station, or walk out onto the race course, as long as they give the right of way to runners. Crew may only give aid at the aid station.

If you can, please keep your sense of humor about all of this, I am trying to keep mine. Let’s enjoy a day on the North Shore together tomorrow.

Loops (approximate distances):

1 = 4.2
2 = 8.4
3 = 12.6
4 = 16.8
5 = 21
6 = 25.2
7 = 29.4
8 = 33.6

Thank You,

John Storkamp
Race Director
Superior Trail Race

P.S. Given the short timeline, if you have a friend or acquaintance running the race, shoot them a text or give them a call to confirm they are aware of this information.

Superior Spring Trail Race
50KM, 25KM & 12.5KM
Lutsen, Minnesota
Saturday May 16, 2020
50KM 7:00AM
25KM 8:00AM
12.5KM 9:00AM

Registration / Lottery:
Opens Wednesday January 1st, 2020 – 12:01AM CST
Closes Wednesday January 15th, 2020 – 11:59PM CST
* Due to high demand, registration for the Superior “Spring” Trail Race is held via a lottery, more details about the lottery can be found HERE

Directions to Race Start:
Caribou Highlands Resort / Lodge
371 Ski Hill Road
Lutsen, MN 55612
Google Maps Directions HERE
Approx Travel Times
1:15 North of Two Harbors, MN
1:45 North of Duluth, MN
4:00 North of Minneapolis, MN

Terrain / Course Description:
The Superior 12.5KM, 25KM and 50KM Trail Races are extremely hilly, rugged and technical out-and-back (100% trail) trail-races which traverses the Sawtooth Mountain Range on the Superior Hiking Trail in the far reaches northern Minnesota .  The course parallels Lake Superior, the greatest freshwater lake in the world, climbs to near 2000′ peaks with breath-taking vistas of the lake and inland forests and crosses whitewater rivers and serene streams while meandering through mystic Boreal forests.  The races start and finish at Caribou Highlands Resort in Lutsen Minnesota.

Superior 50KM
25KM Out & Back Course = 50KM (31MI)
Elevation Gain 4,200 FT
Elevation Loss 4,200 FT
NET Elevation Change 8,400 FT
4 Aid Stations
9 Hour Time Limit
Starts at 7:00AM Saturday
Compete 50KM Info HERE

Superior 25KM
12.5KM Out & Back Course = 25KM (15.1MI)
Elevation Gain 2,300 FT
Elevation Loss 2,300 FT
NET Elevation Change 4,600 FT
1 Aid Station
8 Hour Time Limit
Starts Saturday at 8:00AM
Complete 25KM Info HERE

Superior 12.5KM
12.5KM Point to Point Course. 12.5KM = 7.75MI
Elevation Gain  900 FT
Elevation Loss 1,050 FT
NET Elevation Change 1,950 FT
NO Aid Stations
7 Hour Time Limit
Starts Saturday at 9:00AM
Complete 12.5KM Info HERE

More About the Area:
The North Shore of Lake Superior runs from Duluth, Minnesota at the Southwestern end of the lake, to Thunder Bay and Nipigon, Ontario, Canada, in the North to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, in the east. The shore is characterized by alternating rocky cliffs and cobblestone beaches, with rolling hills and ridges covered in boreal forest inland from the lake, through which scenic rivers and waterfalls descend as they flow to Lake Superior. The shoreline between the city of Duluth to the international border at Grand Portage as the North Shore.  Lake Superior is considered the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. It is the world’s third-largest freshwater lake by volume and the largest by volume in North America.  The Superior Hiking Trail, also known as the SHT, is a 310-mile long distance hiking single-track hiking trail in Northeastern Minnesota that follows the ridgeline overlooking Lake Superior for most of its length. The trail travels through forests of birch, aspen, pine, fir, and cedar. Hikers and runners enjoy views of boreal forests, the Sawtooth Mountains, babbling brooks, rushing waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. The lowest point on the trail is 602 feet above sea level and the highest point is 1,829 feet above sea level.