It all began with a simple suggestion by one of the CHUGs to get some night run training in before Leadville 100...
Sarah and Ben took that and ran with it, literally. They picked the venue, reserved the campsites, created the formal event on the forum, and made reservations for brunch. Brian made a spreadsheet (naturally) where everyone signed up to bring food and drink; and so it went. Sweet and simple, that's how we do! CHUGs sure know how to come together for some good ol' fashioned running and hanging out!
Marengo Ridge is about an hour and a half from Chicago, and on Saturday afternoon Geof and I packed up the truck with all the camping gear, the cooler still fully stocked with beer from the CHUG social two nights prior, our running gear, headlamps and some fresh legs and we were off. After a stop at the grocery store for some last minutes vittles, we hit the road and managed to find the campsite without any problems. Everyone else had been there for a couple of hours, so we immediately hopped to it and got the tent pitched, air mattress set up and then walked back to the fire pit where the burgers and corn were being grilled. Brian and Kelly brought a fancy shmancy shelter with a mosquito surround that was pretty nifty. The mosquitos at this place were not of this world, I was practically eaten alive! Must be because I'm so dang sweet ;)
There were more coolers per capita at our campsite than there are at a Bears Superbowl tailgate, wowza! Beer, Gatorade, Starbucks Doubleshot, water, more beer, other drink stuff, some homebrew that Bill makes (delish!), hotdogs, burgers, fruit salad, veggie salad, watermelon, s'mores, chips, salsa, cookies, it was a veritable feast! And we hadn't even started running yet :) Dinner first, then run. Ultrarunners know how to run on full stomachs anyhow :)
After some eats and some drinks, Ben and Sarah set out on the 4.5 mile loop to mark it with glow sticks. The loop was an even distribution of grassy horse trails and gnarly, technical singletrack. Thank goodness for the glow sticks as some of the single track was so overgrown you couldn't see the trail very well, especially in the dark! Once Sarah got back we snapped a quick group photo, then headed out...
Oh yea, and I of course needed to lube up the feet since it was nasty humid out. We're talkin' 90+ degrees and what felt like 100% humidity. It was a tad warm.
We had a big crowd, 13 in all, and it was a blast heading out on that first loop in one big clump. Sarah said it was going to be tough, but not hilly, so I wasn't sure what to expect.
It was tough. And not hilly. The singletrack really kept us on our toes (and some of us on our faces...but I won't name names ;)). This was a whole new side to night running for me; totally different than the night running I got during VT100 a few weeks back. Vermont isn't technical, Marengo Ridge Conservation Area got technical! I tripped up a few times, but somehow managed to avoid 'crash'ing at any point; wow, you'd think I was coordinated or something.
After one loop, we were all panting due to the humidity, but ready for more. I haven't covered more than 4 miles since Vermont, but this day I was ready for more, bring it! We hung around the "start/finish" area for a few minutes waiting for others to join in, while still others decided to hang back. Brian and Kelly had their pups, Britton and Mia, along for the first loop but let them rest after that. It was their first doggie trail night run!
On the second loop, my legs were feeling happy so I kept up with Atacama Jim O'Brien. Dude is fast and I was working hard to stay with him, but he was 'taking it easy'. He had done 20 miles earlier in the day so these miles were just bonus miles :) Oh, to be in peak training again! Geof and Kelly were just behind us, and Torey and Leslie were just in front of us. Jim and I discussed the "bullfrogs and ducks" that were rampant on the trail that night (especially surrounding him), Mont Blanc, his 140 mile weeks, and falling on the trail. He caught himself on some near falls. I almost had to hand over my nickname to him. Almost.
Once back at camp, Geof popped a squat...
But not for long! He wanted to do two more loops, after having done 30 miles that morning (for a total of 48 miles for the day, yowza man!). Sweet! I was spent after my 9 miles, and my hip/glute pain was back, as well as the pain on the tops of my feet, so I decided it was time to try one of Bill's homebrews, get cleaned up and into dry clothes, and kick back at camp with the other CHUGs while Geof and Tony went for more trail. Deb had rigged up a sort of sponge bath so I felt pretty fresh after that, thanks Deb!!
Around 3:00 a.m., Geof, Tony, Brian, Kelly, Bill, JimEJo and I were still standing and we finally decided it was time to hit the hay.
Sometime around 5:00 a.m. I awoke to some rather loud snoring emanating from the tent next door. I won't name names, but it was loud ;) Hehehe
After everyone rolled out of their tents, cleaned up the campsite, packed up cars, walked the garbage down to the dumpster and sat around with that familiar post-run/late night ultrarunner vacant look...
...we headed into town, to Cafe 20, for some well-earned brunch and more good times.
What a fun weekend! Some very quality night running on some tough trail, super fun camping, hanging with my CHUGs, s'mores and even top notch homebrew thanks to Bill J.! What more could a girl ask for!
Round II will be in September, when the CHUGs descend on the Kettle Moraine, mu hahahaha!