Photo Credit Scott Rokis
The Superior 100 Mile Trail Race was established on the Superior Hiking Trail in the fall of 1991, it is the 10th oldest 100 mile trail race in the country. Later, the 50 miler and marathon were added to the Fall lineup. In 2003 the ‘Spring Race‘ was created to complement the ‘Fall Race‘, provide an early season training opportunity on the trail, and ultimately serve as its own, stand-alone, fully-realized spring race. With the introduction of the the Spring Race and it’s 25K, a sub-ultra and sub-marathon distance was now available as part of the Superior Trail Races. In 2018 the addition of the 12.5K made the Spring event even more welcoming for those interested in running and racing on trails, but not wanting to tackle the marathon or ultra-distance. What a great addition it has been. Of the five other race distances that comprise the Spring and Fall races, it is the only distance that ventures North of Lutsen, and it includes one of my absolute favorite sections of trail.
Founded in 2003 this was the Superior Spring Trail Races 21st annual, or another way of saying it is that it has been 21 years since it was founded. 2020 saw the cancellation of both the Spring and Fall Races due to Covid, and in 2021 we ran a heavily modified ‘go as you please’ Spring Race format (the Fall Race was able to proceed mostly as normal that year). In 2022 the US Forest service asked us not to race on the trail after a late Winter thaw, flash-melt and flash flooding impacted the area – instead we used a non-SHT, short “loop” course, on hard-pack gravel, with a one big climb and some nice views of the big lake. Over these years our incredible trail community kept its head up, maintained a great attitude, supported us, and made the absolute best of it all. This year was our first time back to a ‘normal’ Spring Race course and format since 2019 – that said, it was not without its challenges.
We had a good, honest, snowy winter on the North Shore, but no record snow totals (unlike points further south, like Duluth which did set a snow record). The week of April 10 we had sun and warm temps and a lot of the winter snowpack melted. It looked like we might be in for an early Spring. Then on April 16 we got a foot of new snow, on April 20 we received another foot. From there, it stayed cold and cloudy and the new snow just wasn’t budging – there was still a fair amount in the woods through the first week of May. Then on May 9 & 10 we had warm temps and drizzle, and that wiped out most of the snow. Starting on May 11 we had sunny day after sunny day, temps in the high 60’s and low-to-mid 70’s. Almost overnight the trees had buds and the forest was blanketed with spring ephemerals, fiddleheads, wild leeks, clubmosses and more. Come race day (May 20), the trails were as set up, firm and dry as anytime in the previous calendar year. We had many trees and an extraordinary amount brush to clear from the trail, but we got it done, just in time. An awesome group effort by Superior Trail Race volunteers, other SHT volunteers (most one-in-the-same) and SHT’s tree clearing contractor. It took over 225 labor hours to get 22 miles of trail ready. We were set for a truly outstanding race.
Race day brought more of the same on the weather front, perfection, if not a little warm for us northerners. Come race day it’s a lot of cars to park and people to check in. My awesome playlist (fact not opinion) and the booming bass sits in stark contrast to the peace and quiet in the woods. It feels like a pretty dang big group of people when we are all grouped up on that start line. As trail people, we value our quiet time alone in the woods, or time spent with a handful of training partners for those times that we choose to not run alone. But there are these few occasions each season, where even for us semi or in some cases fully-introverted trail runners, that there is nothing better than getting together, feeling the energy of it all, and engaging in this communal act of trail running and racing. Its not always easy to connect in our day to day lives, but at these races it often feels effortless. Energy and connection… just a couple of the gifts that these events give. For some it’s the racing and competition, for others it is a comeback after cancer or even after an intensive round of chemo, for others yet it is a day in the woods with one or several of their adult children, a spouse, a lifelong friend. No matter what you are in it for, or who you are in it with, these are all incredible gifts. Thank you all for being a part of the Superior family.
I strongly encourage you to take the time to read the volunteer recap / thank you HERE https://www.superiorspringtrailrace.com/2023-volunteer-thank-you/. If you would like to see what it takes to staff Superior and all the time that your fellow runners/volunteers give, see THIS https://www.superiorspringtrailrace.com/volunteer-assignments/ A large percentage of the trail running community routinely volunteers. If you have not yet, give yourself the gift of doing as much… with RSR (Afton and Superior Fall are coming up) or at another non-RSR race. I will be volunteering at Twin Cities Marathon and Hixon this Fall. We all make this go.
After each race we receive dozens of kind emails / testimonials / runners experiences and I always like to share one (or two)… this one is very special:
An email of gratitude. My first experience with your races was the 2022 Superior Spring Trail Race 25K. I came across your website through a simple Google search, and was intrigued, as I had never done a trail run before. Due to the changes of the course I was hesitant to show up race morning but decided I would show up to packet pickup and see what Rocksteady was all about. From the moment I set foot near the packet pickup tent, your team of volunteers blew me away. I was treated with so much kindness, joy and support…it literally melted my heart. The next day’s run in the “pit” was pure joy. I don’t have words to express the impact the community of volunteers and runners had on me. I called my husband after that run and told him that he needed to be a part of the run the following year. He had been called out of the country for work that weekend and was unable to run his spot in that 2022 race. We decided we would take our guaranteed lottery spots for 2023 and run the 50k. This past weekend was so incredible. The volunteers, the runners and the beauty of the trail I will carry in my heart as some of the best moments of my life. I don’t say that lightly. Thank you for all you’ve done to create an environment of beauty and support. I was that girl in school who would fake being sick if she knew she had to run the Presidential Fitness Test in gym class. I was so insecure as a child often telling myself, “ you aren’t good enough, you aren’t fast, you don’t fit in, you look dumb running” so I’d find any possible way to get out of running in gym. As a 41 year old woman, my experience on the trail this past weekend brought much different voices in my head , “you are strong, you belong here” and as I observed those incredible runners ahead of me, I found myself thinking and saying to them “look how strong they are, look how they are persevering, look at the joy they radiate”. Such a shift in my internal world. I have five children and their births were moments of joy that very little in life can compare to. When I crossed the finish line on Saturday, I was met with a deep internal joy that I will never forget. That joy came from the hours of overcoming self on the trail, cheering others along as they passed me, listening to encouraging words from volunteers and runners, helping each other as we struggled to put one foot in front of the other. You’ve created an environment of healing for some (I’m not unique in my insecurities), challenge for all, and most importantly; a place where people seem to genuinely care for and encourage each other. As I told my husband, the tears that ran down my face as I approached the finish line on Saturday were not tears stemming so much from the accomplishment of finishing the race – they were tears of pure gratitude for the people I had encountered from packet pick up through the finish line – tears of gratitude for the people I had encountered within the incredible environment you’ve created.
Photo Credit Cary Johnson
All but one our incredible volunteer photographers have submitted their photos from the race – the one that is still coming will have some 12.5K shots and finish line shots. Not only do these photographers work hard at the race to get these shots, they work hard in the days following, doing all of the post-processing, organizing, and publishing of their photos. Please keep in mind that some of our photographers sell their photos, some make low res images available for free and sell the high res versions, some will accept tips and some give away the high res images for free. Please look for notes / prompts for each photographer / gallery. All of them put a ton of time into it and have a pile of expensive gear that makes this possible. As always it is good form to credit (by name) and thank photographers for the photos you are sharing on your social media or elsewhere. If you want to use photos for commercial purposes please contact the photographers directly or contact me if you are unable to find their contact information. If you are a photographer or aspiring photographer and you would like to come shoot some time, please contact us, we would love to have you. All of this years and past years galleries can be found HEREhttps://www.superiorspringtrailrace.com/photos/ some of our favorite photos from this year’s race can be found HERE https://www.superiorspringtrailrace.com/photos-2023-highlights/
Results and Stats:
Race day / live results were / are available HERE. Official race results are available on our website [ 50K, 25K, 12.5K ]. Results have also been uploaded to UltraSignup [ 50K, 25K, 12.5K ] and have been sent into UTMB [ 50K, 25K ] so qualifying points can be awarded to those that wish to do those races some day (UTMB, CCC, TDS, OCC).
|2023||Registered||Started||Start %||DNS||DNS %||DNFd||DNF %||Finished||Finsh %|
Sweatshirts, T-Shirts, Hats and More for Sale:
Most of the same offerings we have on race day, along with extras of this years race beanie (and last year’s matching ball cap) are available on our online store HERE https://www.rocksteadyrunning.com/shop/ – you can use the “filters” on the side of the page to sort and search for specific items.
Please be sure to check out our awesome sponsors and Partners. We have real relationships with all of these businesses / organizations and most of the owners and/or employees are personal friends, they volunteer, run the races and are part of our local running community.
Superior Hiking Trail
Visit Cook County
Mill City / Saint City Running
Vaniply / Vanicream
Bell Bank Mortgage – Jerry Schmidt
Performance Running Gym
Bridge Realty – Bill Pomerenke
LutZen Massage Studios
Full Sun Services
Mile in My Shoes
Blue Water Cafe
St. Croix Law
Critical Connections Ecological Services
Relentless Courage – Jon Howard
Support the Superior Hiking Trail:
A large percentage of you are already Superior Hiking Trail Association members. Many of you who are not, indicated at the time you registered, that you would like to be. Now is a great time to show our support en masse that we, as trail runners, support the trail that we love to run! You can join, or make an extra donation to the SHT via the following (custom for Superior Trail Race) links… https://superiorhiking.org/joinsuperior/ and https://superiorhiking.org/donatesuperior/ – The Superior Trail Race will continue its charitable legacy to the Superior Hiking Trail Association with a donation at the end of the trail season / after the Fall race, in addition to ongoing volunteer efforts on the trail itself; building, clearing, maintaining and improving. Please consider dropping the SHTA and USFS (Superior National Forest Supervisors Office and Tofte Ranger District) letters / emails telling them how important the races / racing on the trail is you!
Our friends at Visit Cook County / Cook County Tourism are huge supporters of the Superior Trail Races. Please help us support them as they are looking for lodging data to help them better serve trail runners on both Superior Trail Race event weekends and throughout the year. Please take a moment to answer the brief three question survey HERE https://forms.gle/pgzCWg96oW55FUEu8
The Superior Spring Trail Race is always held the weekend before Memorial Day weekend, so that will be Saturday May 18, 2024 (pending the approval of our permit applications). The 15 day lottery registration period typically opens on January 1. The website will be updated with complete 2024 registration and event details by late fall / early winter 2023, stay tuned.
I have said a lot here, so simply, thank you. Thank you for being awesome individuals and an awesome community. Thank you for putting your trust in Cheri and I, our core team and our volunteers. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to serve. As always, if you need anything, please reach out.
Superior Trail Race
Photo Credit Scott Rokis
Photo Credit Scott Rokis
Photo Credit Cary Johnson
Photo Credit Kevin Langton