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Title:John Dick Memorial 50K
Date:Saturday February 2nd, 2008
Author:Mary Gorski
Friday night I asked my husband if it was okay with him if I had another man screw me on Saturday.

"What time?"

"Probably about 6:30 in the morning, but I'll leave the house around 5:30."

"Go ahead, I want to sleep in tomorrow."

And so off I headed to the John "Crusty" Dick 50K in Wisconsin's Southern Kettle Moraine and Jim Blanchard's quickie screw service. One of my Yaktrax just wouldn't stay on my shoe, so it was time to get screwed... or at least my trusty Cascadias. I thought they deserved a quickie.

Five minutes tops for two shoes! Now that's a quickie. I have to admit, I wasn't Jim's only one. He screwed others as well. Men and women. A very generous man with a tool.

Known affectionately as the "Crusty Dick" for the crusty snow that the usually covers the race course, the John Dick Memorial 50K starts and ends at the Mackie Group Camp, near, but not exactly on, part of the Kettle Moraine 100 race course. The JD generally consists of several loops on the snowmobile trails, but that varies depending on conditions. Last year, with temps hovering around zero, a multi-loop course was set that allowed runners to come back to the warming cabin every six miles or so.

This year, the anticipated temperatures were perfect mid-20s (F). There was cloud cover and a light snow off and on, but overall, it was to be a pleasant day for a winter run on the trails. Well, that is from the shoelaces on up.

"Just to let you know, it is probably going to be a slow one today," said Robert Wehner, RD, in his pre-race briefing.

The best way to describe the trail is to think of a well-groomed ice rink with several inches of dry, light snow on top. In some spots, the snow was light enough that you could easily blow it aside to reveal the ice rink below (or luge run on a couple of the downhills). On the surface, it looked like a pretty, snow-covered trail. A nice winter picture. But after a few dozen sets of feet got to it, the snow quickly slipped aside to reveal its icy host. Neither screws nor Yaktrax were any match to the ice.

The downhills were a bit of a challenge at times. Sliding off track with a few other runners, we looked like a runaway train headed toward the trees. Thankfully, the fellow who served as the engine in front was able to finally turn us back on to the trail before the caboose (me!) went flying into the brush.

Where the trail wasn't icy, it was full of soft snow. Runners were treated to both a strength workout (lift those quads!) and an exercise in balance. But again, the temps were nice. No one lost a toe. Even Ann Heaslett managed to finish the event with a bit of feeling left in her feet (as opposed to the frostbite she picked up last year wearing "I thought they would be a good idea" neoprene socks).

Joe Kurian, a competitive marathon runner and triathlete from Madison, Wis., wasn't paying attention during Robert's pre-race briefing. Evidently he didn't hear the part where Robert said "it is probably going to be a slow one today." He also never seemed to look down, because I don't think he noticed that the trail conditions were a bit sketchy. I don't think he was even aware that there was snow on the trail.

Joe, you really need to pay more attention to your surroundings.

Blasting through the course, lapping most runners, Joe flew across the finish line (the doorway to the Mackie warming cabin) in under four hours. This happened well before I got near the finish, so I apologize for not having the exact time -- either 3:54 or 3:59. I didn't have my glasses and those "4s" and "9s" look the same to me now. Results are at the Badgerland Striders' website: (look under race info, and then race results).

At an early-season race on a challenging course, Joe posted a time that one might expect to see from a top runner at a road 50K. Incredible!

His wife, Aimee, kept Ann Heaslett company on a few laps while Ann led the women's race. Aimee and Joe had their first child about a year ago, so Aimee is just getting back into distance running. That kid of theirs must have some incredible running genes.

Ann stayed in the lead and won the women's event, again with all toes intact.

The John Dick is a no-frills race -- perhaps just a step or two up from a Fat A** run. The entry fee (pre-race day) is a mere $10. There are no tee shirts, and the overall trophy is one that is simply passed on from year to year. Robert splurged a bit this time and awarded the overall and masters' winners a family-sized Hershey's bar, personalized with their placing (thank you Ann for winning the overall spot -- her master's award was then passed down to me -- yum, yum!).

There are no tee shirts, but there is a enough food to easily replenish how ever many calories the average runner burned on the trails. Race staff provide chili (regular and veggie) as well as a few beverages and other side treats. Added to that are dozens of food items that runners contribute to the meal.

As Kris Hinrichs always reminds us, when two or three are gathered in Wisconsin, food is in the midst of them (Gospel of Matthew?). When Wisconsinites get together, they don't starve.

One of the main treats to our post-race gathering was a large birthday cake for our elder statesman -- Paul Gionfriddo. The Ground Hog runner turned 85 on February 2. What better way to celebrate than to join his friends for a few loops on the John Dick course and then share some cake? Happy birthday Paul! If any of us can age with half the grace that he has we'll be darn lucky people.

Speaking of local runners, it was wonderful to see Ralph Graf show his bearded grin at the race start. Ralph -- one of my favorite old coots to tease on the trail -- was diagnosed with cancer last fall and has been dealing with treatments and procedures ever since. It was great to tease him in person once again.

So overall, it was a wonderful day on the trails. For me, it started with a quickie screw, and ended with a quickie shoulder massage from a trained professional (RD Robert Wehner is a licensed massage therapist). In-between I had a darn nice little run (no ankle twists, no frozen digits, and lucky enough to win some chocolate).

What more could a girl ask for?

Again, results are at the Badgerland Striders' website:

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Posted:February 13th, 2008 10:12 am
Last View:July 12th, 2020 3:06 am
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