The 21st Annual Superior Spring Trail Race will be held on the Superior Hiking Trail as normal.
Below, I share a summary of the twists and turns that brought us here. While I encourage you to read it, for those that choose not to, at a minimum please review the ‘Runner Welcome‘ for some updates and reminders.
In ‘Conditions Update 1‘, I told you about our early April warmup on the North Shore that melted significant amounts of snow. That week it was looking like we might have an early Spring. I then went on to tell you about the foot of new snow we got on April 16, and the additional foot we got on April 20. Following these storms were cold temperatures and cloudy days. This was all just too reminiscent of 2022 when the United States Forest Service asked us not to race on the trail – I put you on notice that we could be racing on our backup course again this year. At the same time I expressed some optimism, speculating that much of the frost may have already come out / was in the process of coming out of the ground – the woods just had a different feel than last year.
In ‘Conditions Update 2‘ on May 9, I told you that the snow was starting to melt, but there was still quite a bit lingering in the woods. I also told you that even if the snow melted, and the trail set up and dried out to a reasonable degree, we still had 23 miles of trail to clear, of trees and brush, in a much shorter window than normal.
Fast forward to today. After two days (May 9 & 10) of drizzle with warm temps, followed by 5 straight days in the high 60’s and low to mid-70’s, low humidity, near-full-sun and decent winds (and a decent looking forecast) the trails have fully set up and are drying out exceptionally well. The only spots that are wet are a handful of the normal “bad spots” – some of which have been fixed since the last time we ran on the trail. As I suspected, the frost was largely out prior to the snow melting. This can be witnessed by the quickly emerging blanket of spring ephemerals, wild leeks, fiddleheads, and more along the race course.
Over the past week, volunteers have spent about 135 hours clearing the race course sections of trees and encroaching brush, opening drains, scouting, and more. One of SHTA’s contractors put in another (estimated) 48 hours on the race sections they are contracted to clear trees from. We still have a pretty significant amount of brushing to do, and will get as much done as we can prior to the race. All of this work not only benefits racers, it benefits all trail users for the trail season ahead. A huge thank you to all who helped with this big task. This morning I hiked from Sawbill to Oberg with representatives from the United States Forest Service and the Superior Hiking Trail Association. Our findings this morning were consistent with what I have been seeing over the past number of days.
In the closing of my last conditions update / email to you I said the following… “I am sorry it is coming down to the wire, I know the uncertainty is not fun. We are methodically working through a process that allows us the best chance possible of hosting the race on the trail. We have a solid backup in place should we need to pivot. We are excited to see everyone either way – we made it great last year, we can make it great again this year!” Thank you for trusting us. I either heard nothing from you, or if I did, it was just because you wanted to share some positive words of encouragement. Old news, but worth mentioning again – this community is truly awesome.
Runners: The training is hard. Racing is hard. Finding balance with family and work can be complicated. There are costs and logistics involved with getting out of town to run a race. Our team / Volunteers: Hosting a race is hard. Knowing me is really hard (I am always calling or texting asking if your saw gear happens to be in the truck, if you can meet me in an hour, if you will captain an aid station, run radios, or even if you can do me a personal favor because I am up to my neck in race prep). If it’s all so hard, then why do it? Spend 5 minutes looking through the photos on the homepage of our website and you will have your answer. We are so lucky to have this. It enriches lives… it even saves some. I can’t wait to see you all this weekend.
Superior Trail Race