Our annual fall celebration of "going long" made use of the Palos Trail System of Willow Springs - Region 6. Out of necessity it was our first time charting this racecourse, comprised of the area's scenic, more technical, interconnecting trails, with stretches of cross-country over grass areas. Each lap is 5.2 miles in length, run in a counterclockwise direction. 50-Km = six laps; 25-Km = three laps. Our start/finish and only aid station was the pavilion of Wolf Road Woods, Grove #2. Due to the onset of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in March our 2020 spring version had been cancelled just eight days prior to its running. With the pandemic still raging our fall version was spread over three days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; Nov 13th, 14th, 15th with maximum capacities of 50 participants per day. This marked the fifteenth running of our semiannual race, which has always offered the event distances of 50 kilometers and 25 kilometers.
Day one, Friday November 13th...
Three runners opted for an early start; setting off at 7:33 am were Heather Vree, Celia Corral, and Kathy Muehlbauer. The 50-Km field started at 8:33:06 am, and the 25-Km field started one hour later at 9:33:06. 15 runners began the 50-Km; 13 made their finish. 12 runners began the 25-Km; all 12 made their finish. Kevin Hughes maintained a remarkably even pace over three laps finishing the 25-Km in a speedy 2:01:26; Melissa Savage was top female in 3:13:19. John Wiencek had top time in the 50-Km of 5:48:09; Angela Freeman was top female in 6:17:36.
Seasonable conditions persisted throughout the day with racing temperatures ranging 33˚-39˚F; sunny, no precipitation; NW winds at 6-10 mph.
Jim Arnold served as aid station captain, with Tracey Escobedo volunteering in the afternoon.
Day two, Saturday November 14th...
One runner, Tara Mayner opted for an early start of 7:34. The 50-Km field started at 8:31:00 am, and the 25-Km field started one hour later at 9:31:00. 16 runners began the 50-Km; 14 made their finish. 22 runners began the 25-Km; 20 made their finish. Paul Garcia had top time in the 25-Km of 2:25:30; Natalie Kronick had top time for females in 2:45:13. It was an exciting day in the 50-Km with a 6-lap battle between Becky Patch, Tom Lyons, and David Ulbert. Through the first three laps they traded positions, each taking turns in the lead, never separated by more than a couple of minutes. Into the last lap Tom took a slight lead over David, who lingered slightly longer at the aid station, strategically replenishing. Out of the woods and finishing with the day's top times came David in 4:44:56; Tom in 4:50:10; Becky in 5:15:19.
Seasonable conditions persisted throughout the day with racing temperatures ranging 29˚-44˚F; early sunny skies gave way to cloudy, overcast; no precipitation; SE winds at 9-13 mph.
Jeni Goodwin and Michael Glennon served as aid station co-captains, along with volunteers Juli and Val Aistars.
Note: The finish-line clock was misset by one minute, displaying times one minute faster than actual race time.
Day three, Sunday November 15th...
The 50-Km field started at 8:31:00 am, and the 25-Km field started one hour later at 9:31:00. 15 runners began the 50-Km; all 15 made their finish. 19 runners began the 25-Km; 18 made their finish. Dennis Remke and Jeremy Verstraete ran together and finished with top times in 25-Km at 2:13:53; not far behind Jennifer Govostis had the day's top female time of 2:18:48. In the 50-Km David Curtin raced alone and ahead for five laps. Aware of Saturday's leading race time he calculated what needed to be done, then put the hammer down for his last lap, finishing in 4:43:29. There was a close finish for day's top female time with Kristen Salkas in 5:59:14, followed by a determined-to-get-under-six-hours Kaila Konecki in 5:59:59.9.
Seasonable conditions persisted throughout the day with racing temperatures steady at 41˚-42˚F; one hours worth of early light rain created puddles and stretches of slippery trails; overcast skies; WSW winds at 20-25 mph battered the racecourse all day.
Boris Tannenbaum and Chris Connelly served as aid station co-captains, along with volunteers Ian Stevens, Jim Arnold, Lynn, and Linda Leyden. Prior to racing Ed Sheer ran the course to reinforce trail directional markings.
Under the arch, across the finish line timing mats, awaiting all runners... customized finisher-medals, bagels and cream cheese, crackling fire, optional beer, and the drawing-them-in-siren-sound of ringing cowbell. First-time ultramarathon finishers earned "My First Ultra" pint-glass awards. Five-time Paleozoic finishers collected special zipper-draw-string shoe bag awards. For this version we had no ten-time finishers but if we had, they would have been awarded special pint-glasses.
Because Paleozoic Trail Runs - Ordovician Fall II was spread over three days of racing we could not determine overall and age group winners until Sunday afternoon. From homes and remote locations many Friday and Saturday runners were monitoring our race "Webcast
" to see how their finishing times would hold up.