Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017 was the END-TRAILS: Extreme North Dakota’s Terrifying Run Amongst Innumerable Lost Souls 12 hour trail run. Yeah, quite the name! This event is put on by END (Extreme North Dakota) Racing and it was EPIC! This was my first END event – they do a variety of extreme races including swim, cycle, multisport and of course on foot. This particular weekend featured a bike event for 12 hours on Saturday and then a 10k trail loop for 12 hours on Sunday.
Everything happened at Turtle River State Park by Grand Forks, ND. This is about 4 to 4.5 hours from my home in Hazen. To make it a bit more bearable, I stayed in Minot with my grannie the night before. I was up and on the road at 4 a.m. The drive was pretty uneventful, helped along by an audio book and thankfully, I only had to slam on the brakes once for a mini herd of deer.
So here is the situation on how this run happens. You can enter as a single person or as a team of up to 4 people (co-ed or not). My team was called Mud, Sweat and Beers and we had 3 women. I love our team name. Everyone is welcome to hunker down in the very nice central lodge at the park which has running water, functioning toilets, a kitchen, food, drinks, coffee and space. What more could a runner need? The weather was cool and overcast, quite good for running. The forecast called for high winds (bummer!) but thankfully it was mostly protected by trees along the Turtle River, the morning was particularly wind free. As a person you can do one lap or as many as you want in a 12-hour span. They just ask you let them know when you are done so they know you are safe and can accurately record your time and laps. As for teams, you can take turns running however you want, all run together or whatever. We decided to go one after another. I felt going in I wanted to do at least 3, maybe 4 laps.
Wow -we had fun. This was my first event of this nature and would tie for my furthest running amount in one day. It is quite a different beast though running 19 miles at once and 19 miles broken into 3 laps. I brought with a change of clothes for between laps just to get out of sweaty clothes that I knew would turn me cold. We all also brought along food, drink and things to keeps us occupied while we waited our turn to go again. I felt like time went by quite quickly. The sun was up right around the time we started. We had headlamps but they weren’t needed. After we had each recorded one lap, we were welcome to participate in the Halloween theme of the event and dress up and run if we’d like. My teammate Melissa and I both dressed up. I was in a onesie unicorn PJ costume and she was in a much smarter Wonder Woman costume. It was fun to run dressed up and even though my costume was HOT, my lap time was still pretty decent. Not everyone dressed up but it was fun. While we were out running the trails, the park is still open to visitors so I got a few perplexed looks from adults and a few questions from kids on why a unicorn was running by.
We ended up each doing 3 laps. At this point, it was getting dark and I was OK with not getting in a 4th lap. To be honest, it is very quiet and lonely out there – a bit scary. I didn’t know I wanted to run in the dark. By this point, many of the single runners had dropped as well as the teams. We parted ways and on the way home I was glad as we ran into snow squalls and some bad weather. In hindsight, we probably could have ran another lap together but I am totally satisfied with how we finished. I was 100% do this event again. Maybe one day I will have enough stamina to do 4-6 laps on my own? The trail terrain is nice and not too hilly. I would say this event gave me a boost of confidence that I can run far – but especially if I fuel up correctly and just take my time. I tend to go out blazing and burn out quickly. I’m not going to break any records so I might as well be smart and have fun!!
Thanks to my Mud, Sweat and Beers ladies for a fun Sunday afternoon – Alayna and Melissa, two gals up for anything. To stay true to our name we did have some mud, quite a bit of sweat and yeah, I had to have a couple (light) beers to celebrate. Cheers! I hope to participate in and END racing event again.