The Big Dance: Superior Races Preview

This weekend marks Minnesota’s premier set of long-distance trail races and some of the toughest events in the country: the Sawtooth 100-Mile, Superior 50-Mile and Moose Mountain Marathon, all run point-to-point on the rugged Superior Hiking Trail north of Duluth.

The weather this year looks less-than-noteworthy – between 54 and 77 forecasted for Lutsen between Friday and Saturday. One catch – scattered thunderstorms in the area Friday with a 40% chance of rain. Those rocks, you see, they don’t run so good when they’re wet.

All three races run northeast on the trail and finish at Lutsen ski area; they start at different spots and at different times. Here’s the deal:

Sawtooth 100

This historic race – originally called the Superior 100, it was one of the original few 100s in the country – starts Friday at 8:00 AM at Gooseberry Falls State Park. Though it’s spread out, the total elevation gain and loss actually exceeds that of the much-vaunted Leadville 100. It also serves as a qualifying race for the notorious Hardrock 100.

Course records: 

Men – 21:02:41, Steven Moore (Austin, Texas), 2012

Women – 24:49:06, Kristina Folcik (Goffstown, New Hampshire), 2012

Last year: Course records fell for both men and women in near-perfect conditions.

This year: Can a Minnesotan reclaim the title, or even the course record, in either race? 2011 champ John Horns is back to claim a Hardrock Lottery qualifier, and Dusty Olson is ready to, in his words, “throw down” on his hometown course after recovering from Lyme and moving to Bozeman. Becky George looks to reclaim her unbeatable-ness from early 2012. Any others?

Course Map:

Elevation Profile: (not for the weak-stomached)

Superior 50-mile

Course Records: 

Men – 8:53:19, James Sorensen (Minneapolis), 2012

Women – 10:03:54, Christi Nowak (St. Paul), 2011

Last Year: Two (almost three) men went under the old course record.

This year: Former Team USA-Minnesota-ite and 46:xx 10-miler Josh “White Pine” Moen makes his 50-mile debut after a rough ultra debut at the Afton 50k in August (where he finished behind two women and a guy wearing sandals). 2010 third-placer Forrest Tracy looks to avenge a DNF in 2012; Eric Nordgren, last year’s runner-up, is the top returning finisher and has the fastest time on the course of anyone racing this year. For women, watch Laurie Kocando – and who else? (Sorry my predictions are male-centric; that’s who I race against and so that’s who I pay more attention to. We welcome contributions by anyone who knows more about the women’s field in any race this year.)

Moose Mountain Marathon

Course Records:

Men – 3:31:29, Wynn Davis, 2009

Women – 4:11:03, Helen Lavin, 2009

Last Year: Lane Johnson (Bayfield) pulled out a narrow victory over the PED-free Ryan Braun (Rochester), 3:55:38 to 3:56:07 in the men’s race; in the women’s, Willie Tibbets (Eagan) dominated in 4:39:03, winning by almost 20 minutes.

This Year: Ben Kampf, winner of 4 of the last five Afton 25ks, is taking a stab.

Following the race

Last year, Rock Steady Running provided some updates on the progress of 100-milers on Friday, but that plan had to be abandoned as the few on the race directing crew had to turn their attention to directing two other races Saturday. This year they will be attempting to do some live tracking again – you can follow what they post on the Superior Endurance Runs (Fall Races) Facebook page.

Two days to get in shape!


2 thoughts on “The Big Dance: Superior Races Preview

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