July 15th, 2020
Wisconsin's John Dick Memorial Crusty 50 Kilometer Run
Saturday February 3rd, 2007
So how would I sum up the 2007 edition of Wisconsin's John Dick 50K?
Simply put, it really wasn't that bad.
I guess that sounds like a review a feared medical procedure. "How was the whatever-o-scopy?"
"Oh, it really wasn't that bad!"
In the days leading up to the "Crusty Dick" (the name by which it is affectionately known because of the crusty snow the course generally traverses... and that part of our humor that sometimes still hovers around the high school maturity level) weather forecasts called for a chilly weekend. After mild weeks of winter, we had already experienced a few frosty days in the teens, but rarely colder. Yet there it was on weather.com -- the coldest weather of the winter was blowing in just in time for the Crusty D.
Initially, we were to have a high of about 12F. The colder stuff was coming on Sunday. But Mother Nature was impatient and by Friday evening, the hourly forecast for Saturday showed a high of about 6F. Unfortunately, that would be at about 6 a.m. Temperatures would erode quickly after the sun came up. We began the race with the thermometer at 4F above and finished it at 0-1 degree above zero.
Oh, and did I mention the wind advisory that came with recommendations NOT to go outside if travel wasn't necessary? It's not often you get to see that flashing red advisory notice on the weather page here in Milwaukee. What a treat!
I thought that perhaps running this event wasn't the brightest of my sometimes dull ideas. I'd had a bit of a cold for the past week and wasn't feeling too perky. Was this one of those moments when I should listen to my body and stay home in bed, cuddled with a good book? Let the body heal? Is relentless forward motion always a good thing?
Or, would running with a cold, in the cold, cancel the cold out? You know, two negatives make a positive? All those grammar school grammar teachers couldn't be wrong!
So I pulled out my winter wear and hoped for the best. And do you know what? Two negatives do make a positive. It was a great day.
Many thanks to Robert Wehner, the race RD, who re-routed the course to allow for several visits to the warming cabin. I think this made the day much more tolerable -- not only for the volunteers -- but for the runners. I kept bottles of Perpetum in the house and looked forward to stopping at the end of each loop to go inside and get a fresh, un-frozen supply (many of us had Perpetum/Gatorade/etc. slushies before making it back to the house). Of course, the blazing fire in the cabin was like a siren calling to frozen runners. Volunteers would offer hot soup, coffee or cider. Mmmmmm... it was nice in there. What was going on outside that was so important for me to get to... I began to forget.
The hardest part for me wasn't running that 50K, it was leaving the cabin each time to do so.
Re-routing the course had another plus beyond the cabin stop -- it got us out of the wind. Last year's course was very exposed with several open fields. Robert took us on a re-interpreted version of an earlier course, almost all on heavily wooded trails. Tucked between the trees, the winds rarely nipped at us. The most brutal part of each loop was the block-long section on the black top that took runners back into the woods. It had us barreling straight into that frigid mother of a nature and her icy breath.
Because of the anticipated deep freeze, I thought that there would be a lot of no-shows. I asked Robert about DNS-runners when I saw him on the course (he is a mobile RD -- running the event after checking everyone in and then taking over for volunteers once he is finished, writing down the finishing times for other runners). He hadn't counted how many didn't show, but he said that at least 14 had registered day-of. Now there are some hearty souls! People who wake up at 5 a.m. and say, "Gosh, it looks like there are going to be wind chill temps of -25 degrees; I think I'll sign up to do a 50K run!"
As for comfort levels during the run, I think most of us were surprised that it simply wasn't that bad. Perhaps it was because we were so psyched to be miserable that we were pleasantly surprised to find that we weren't. The biggest clothing error seemed to be over-dressing. I had spare clothes in the warming cabin, but never switched togs -- not even my mitts. What seemed to work well for me (of course, we are all an experiment of one) was the three-layer system. A thin layer next to my skin wicked moisture out to a second, medium-weight layer. That layer had some frosty build-up, but at least it wasn't against my skin. On top of the two shirts, I had a lightweight wind shell. The shell is what contributed to the inner frost, but with the winds being what they were, I thought the shell was needed.
On my hands I had a very thin pair of polypro gloves, with rag wool mitts on top. Usually, that is good for me on a cold day. But once temps dropped, and I got tired, I was glad to have some thin, Windstopper shells to put over the top. Again, the two layers under a shell seemed key. On cold days, frost builds up under the shell. If that is the only layer you have under the shell, it is against your skin. With the thin gloves, my hands stayed surprisingly comfortable.
So that's the scoop on this year's Frigid Dick -- and on my fashion selection for the run. As for the actual RACE part of the race, the results (listed below) will also be posted at
. Winners were Christine Crawford for the women and Craig Bunk for the men. Both looked focused and strong throughout the day. Several of us taking our time dubbed them as our "designated serious runners." They seemed to be among the few who remembered that this was actually a race. Many congrats to them.
Warm thoughts to all from a chilly Wisconsin!
2007 John Dick Memorial - Crusty 50Km
Kettle Moraine Trails, Wisconsin
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