2023 WausaUltra Backyard Ultra Race Report

When: Friday, April 28, 2023

Where: Sylvan Hill Park, Wausau, Wisconsin

Race Format: Backyard Ultra, 4.167-mile loops/yards every hour

Results: Officially a DNF – 6 loops/yards, 25 miles – 48th out of 58 starters

Website Link: https://www.wausaultra.com/backyard

2023 WausaUltra Backyard Race Report

It’s hard not to like this race. The course is trail and is varied and is a ton of fun. The race directors are top-notch. I had looked forward to it for months. And then I ran it and it beat me up, not like last year by falling on the fifth loop, but physically wore me out by the time I finished the first loop. But I enjoyed every minute of it.

Fortunately, I had my crew chief/wife Kari with me to help me with all the junk I brought and to make sure that I wouldn’t end up like last year. We opted to stay at a nearby hotel for the night to avoid the hour-long drive in the morning. We had plenty of time to get up, have a great breakfast, and then head to the race to set up our tent.

Looking good one mile into the race.

Totally beat after one loop.

Loop 6 and I was cooked.

The course was very much like the year before.  A little bit of sloppy and muddy conditions, but nothing a trail runner hasn’t ever dealt with.  By the end of loop 1, I felt pretty beat up and I was already calculating how many loops I might be able to complete.  The goal was to do 8-12 loops, but the course forced me to reconsider that.  I was now hoping to do as well as I did the year before and get at least 5 loops finished.

I had some great conversations with some of the other runners.  Cody, Ashley, and Robert were great to run with, as well as many of the others.  Everyone was having a great time.  

The weather was pretty good this year as well.  Last year was a little colder, but we were all in shorts this year.  

After finishing the sixth loop in 57 minutes, I didn’t leave myself much time to get some food and I had decided that I would start the next loop but probably wouldn’t finish it.  I made my way back into the corral with a fresh water bottle and started walking when the seventh loop began.  As the others pulled away, I gave a half-hearted effort to keep up, but it just wasn’t happening for me.  I was done.  I decided to walk up the hill and back down the next which would put me near camp.  Kari met me at the bottom of the hill and I told her that I was taking a victory cool-down lap.  We decided to walk up the next hill and around more of the loop and ended back at the camp, with an additional but unofficial extra 1.5 miles.  I walked up and told the race directors that number 159 was dropping from loop 7.  I rang the bell and thanked everyone for the well wishes and congratulations.  Then Kari and I began packing up.

I could make a dozen excuses why I dropped out when I did, but it all really boiled down to being uncomfortable running across the highly technical rocky terrain on tired legs.  It lead to me falling last year, and I just didn’t want to repeat that.  So, I’ll take my 25 total miles, my awesome WausaUltra race swag, and my finisher medal, and live for another race.  Time to heal up and begin training in the summer for the fall races I have signed up for.  

Jogger Judgement

I was running on Tuesday and encountered a young kid (25 or so) who looked like he was out for a walk through the woods on a cool and very windy day.  I turned around and found myself catching him and passing him, but it wasn’t long until I heard someone running behind me.  I turned to look and it was the sweater-clad kid.  I stopped and asked him if he was trying to mess with me because I was trying to figure out why he was now running right behind me when he was just walking beforehand.  I think he quickly saw my concern and advised that he was just trying to see if he could keep up with me.  He apologized for freaking me out, and I chuckled and said let’s go.  I dropped the hammer down and was quickly running 5K race pace.  He kept up for a bit, but when we got to the uphills I ended up dropping him.  By a mile later I couldn’t see him behind me any longer.  I guess he learned if he could keep up with me.

I was lucky enough to have a weekday off from work today (Good Friday) and decided to join in on a group run that I usually miss out on.  I don’t often join group runs because they always tend to fracture and then I end up running solo anyway.  Plus, I have a part-time job and miss the morning run stuff.  But four of us showed up today and it wasn’t long before I found myself thinking about who had assembled here for this run.

Just like the kid earlier in the week, it’s pretty common for me to judge other runners when I’m out running.  I’m sure I’m wrong about them, and if I take some time to actually converse with someone I see regularly, I’m often impressed.  And what do they think of me?  I crossed paths with a teenage girl once and she looked at me and said “Oh man, you go sir!” like I was some old-timer huffing and puffing my way through a couple miles.  If she only knew.

Today’s running group – Jodi, me, Dan, and April.  Picture credit:  Jodi – stolen from Facebook without permission.

So here is a picture of the group today.  If you were judging this group of runners what would you conclude?  Old and slow?  Out for a mile or two and then have coffee?  Three Boomers and a Gen Xer trying to stay healthy?  Let’s run it down:

Jodi is a multi-time marathoner, and multi-time ultramarathon finisher, including numerous 100-mile finishes to her credit.  I don’t know a lot about Dan’s resume, but I do know this:  he’s an experienced adventure racer, multi-time marathoner and ultramarathoner, and an accomplished triathlete who is competing at the Multisport World Championships in a month.  I’m sure there is much more to his resume.  And April just added her sixth World Marathon Majors star in Tokyo this year.  To put that in perspective, I have two of the six stars and it took me a long time to get that second one!  I toot my own horn on this page enough for you to know that I have accomplished some stuff – marathons, Ironmans, and a handful of ultra finishes, with that elusive 100-mile finish still being actively pursued.

That’s a pretty amazing group of locals out for a run if I do say so myself.  So if you see someone out running and start wondering what their deal is, don’t be surprised if you are actually seeing some pretty accomplished people.  And feel free to join in!  Catch us if you can!