Take one look at me and you probably wouldn’t guess that I was much of a runner. It’s true, I don’t possess the body type you would consider standard for someone who considers running somewhat of a hobby. But for me that’s exactly the reason why I do it. Running is hard, period. I know this sounds a bit masochistic but I “enjoy” running because it hurts, because it’s so difficult for me. I have flat feet, I’ve sprained ankles, I’ve had plantar fasciitis, I’ve torn my achilles tendon, and let’s face it I’m not the skinniest person on earth. So clearly it seems like running and I wouldn’t get along. But I always like to push my body beyond it’s limits, to go beyond anywhere I thought my body could take me.
I ran my first half marathon in 2014 and have run a couple more since then (and have another one coming in March!) and have added a couple smaller races as well. But since my wife and I have started running more consistently a few years ago there’s been one race we’ve really had our sights on. The Fall 50 which takes place in Door County, WI. Fall 50 is a 50 mile relay race which is divided into 10 legs of varying length. The race starts from the top of Door County (if you’re not familiar with Wisconsin, it’s at the tip of the thumb sticking out on the east side of the state) and runs all the way down the bay side of the peninsula ultimately ending in Sturgeon Bay. Don’t worry though, if you don’t want to run the race by yourself you can run it with a team of up to 5 people, dividing the legs up however you want. I know, sounds like a blast right!?
When Erika and I signed up (along with two of our friends to round out our team) I knew this race would be particularly challenging for me. I wound up with two legs of the race totaling just over twelve miles, including the last leg of the race which was about 4.5 miles. However, the real challenge for me wasn’t the distance, it was the time between legs. One of the benefits of running a half is that you go out, run for 2 hours or 2.5 hours and you’re done. But Fall 50 is an all day event! Considering all the leg issues I had in the past, I was a little nervous that there would be multiple hours in between my legs. And it wasn’t just a physical challenge, at Fall 50 you constantly have to keep track of time, what you’re eating, and what leg you need to head to next. As is always the case with running, it is as much a mental game as anything else.
In the end our team did a great job, with everyone running hard and finishing with overall pretty good times, we even beat some of the teams we were competing with throughout the race which always feels fantastic! Personally I ran my miles and finished my legs, which I suppose was goal number 1! The last leg was certainly tough but through the aching muscles and the legs I now had to beg to function correctly I was absolutely proud of myself at the end, and I was proud of my teammates too! We weren’t setting any course records, but at least we were out there running, no longer the young stallions we once were as we now inch closer and closer to the age of 30 (not old by any stretch, but right on the edge of our bodies slowing down!).
Now that I’ve thoroughly discussed the actual race we ran, I would like to take a minute to discuss the race itself. Door County is a wonderful area in Wisconsin. Located right on Lake Michigan it is best known for its lovely small towns, quirky little shops, beautiful views, and of course the best wineries in the state! It is the perfect place for an all day 50 mile run. Spectators and teams alike often stay for extended weekends to take in all that DC has to offer, which also includes a number of amazing restaurants! Given the wonderful location of this event it is obviously an extremely popular attraction each Fall as patrons come from states away (may have spotted a few Canadians too!) just to run in this race, so if you are interested it’s best to sign up the day registration opens! And if you are interested I would highly recommend taking the leap, some legs of the race are indeed quite difficult as there are plenty of hills to keep you busy. But you are often rewarded during your legs with breathtaking views of the bay, Peninsula State Park, and all of the towns along the way. And even while you’re not running, the atmosphere around a team relay run is always enjoyable, getting to spend time with your team between legs, running around to the different stops, and then relaxing together afterwards are some of the best parts of the day! Just make sure you have a large enough vehicle and plenty of snacks!
Bottom line, Fall 50 in Door County is a badass time, and if you run in the race you’ll feel like a badass when you’re finished. The only question is; what are you waiting for?