2018 Superior 50K Winner Ben Cogger – Photo Credit Lisa Kapsner-Swift

An Interview with 2018 Superior 50KM Men’s Winner Ben Cogger (BC) – Interview conducted by Kevin Langton (KL)

KL: Ben congrats on your win and on breaking your own course record. I saw you maybe a mile and a half into the race and you already had a significant lead, a lead over an impressive field—it was obvious then that you were running with a clear mission. What were your plans or goals for the race and how did the race play out for you?

BC: The warm and dry weather late April into May set the trail up to be about as runnable as it gets. With that in mind, I thought the chances of running a decent time were good as I felt fit coming in to the race.

KL: You seem to have a real love for this course and race. What’s the draw for you?

BC: Hard to articulate, but here is a summary of what brings me back year after year. The trail: it is incredibly beautiful, varied and rugged. The people, the coordinators, volunteers and fellow runners, all are excellent and inspiring.

KL: What best prepared you for such a race?

BC: I have a long history of running trails and the technical aspect has really become second nature for me, which is a boon on this course. I built the much needed strength the trail demands from running trails in Duluth, skiing, carrying kids in backpacks, pushing running strollers, etc. Speed training comes in the form of weekly competitive Northern Minnesota Track Club races in Duluth, and the occasional workout with the track athletes I coach at Denfeld High School in Duluth.

KL: What’s something non-running that helped you at Superior?

BC: I essentially don’t run from the time snow flies until mid-March. If there is snow on the ground I transition to cross-country skiing and put the running shoes away for the winter. My body doesn’t hold up well to year-round running and I have found that the strength gained in a ski season carries over well to the trail running discipline. Additionally, maple syrup season is a month long strength session leading up to Superior as I snowshoe through the woods pushing hundreds of pounds of sap, firewood and my kids on a handsled.

KL: Did you have any low points during the race? If so, what helped you through it/them?

BC: The race felt great this year. I avoided a low point realized at previous Superiors. I managed the climbs back up Moose and Mystery at a “controlled” hurt, knowing that overexertion here would make the remainder of the run much less enjoyable. The only concern I had early on was how warm it felt and wondering if hydration would be an issue. I decided to shed the jersey after a few miles, which is an interesting task, trying to reaffix safety pins while navigating roots and rocks. I am glad I did though as I am much more acclimated to running a little cool.

KL: Bonus question: Please make your own question (and answer) that reveals something you think we should know about.

BC: Has your approach to preparing for the race changed over the years? Time to devote to running has become scarcer the last several years as my young family continues to grow. I have made a conscious effort to focus on smart training as opposed to just more training. Pushing a running stroller around has me on the road more than I like, but it’s running and time shared with my kids who are always excited to point out ground level discoveries I would have otherwise overlooked. I have found that relaxing from a rigorous training schedule and taking rest when needed, as it often is with nocturnal children, have not really led to a decline in performance. Quality over quantity is the modus operandi at the moment.

KL: Ben thanks again and congrats on another amazing race.

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.