The endurance trail race season begins on Friday, April 13th with the Zumbro Endurance Races. Runners in the 100 mile run start at 8am and will finish some 21 to 38 hours later. In the middle of the night on Friday, the Zumbro ‘Midnight’ 50 race begins.
The midnight start time of the 50 mile race offers runners a unique experience. Right from the start they have to navigate the up and down challenges of this bluff country trail in the dark. A few hours later they get to enjoy the beauty of the birds singing and the world waking up.
There is also a shorter run, the Zumbro 17 Mile Race on Saturday.
Endurance trail runners can be considered the ultimate minimalist hikers, taking fast and light to the limits. Paul Peterson, who will be running 50K during the Superior Trail Race in May, says he got into endurance racing because, “I’m an extremist and if someone says something is hard, it makes me want to do it.” Running on trails also attracts him since he was first a backpacker.
Unlike road racers, trail runners enjoy the beauty and challenges of running on the sometimes rough paths of Minnesota’s parks and hiking trails. There are nine endurance races in Minnesota over the running season, most of them in regional and state parks and on the Superior Hiking Trail.
The Zumbro 100 course is not far from Wabasha in the Zumbro River Bottoms Management area. This is in Southern Minnesota’s bluff country and is part of the Richard J Dorer Hardwood Memorial Forest. The DNR website says “The best times to visit RJD Memorial Hardwood Forest is in the early spring when the spring ephemerals are in bloom ...” Not this April, it’s still snowing.
Good luck runners.
The Upper Midwest Trail Runners website has a complete list of endurance races: www.umtr.net