It was March 2013. After parking in the North Country Trail lot along Richland County Road 23, I boarded a school bus en route to an unknown place. The bus windows were frosted by the anxious breathing and conversations of the participants in a new event: END-SURE 50k. Off the bus, using a semi-private, natural bathroom, and moving toward the start line it was announced that the temperature was -10F. Soon I was moving forward with a line of people following a snowmobile trail winding across the wind-swept prairie. After 24.5 miles of running, post-holing, emotional highs and lows, and hypothermia I said, "ENOUGH!" The deep cold inside of me lasted for hours after the snowmobile ride out of the Sheyenne National Grasslands.
2 statistics worth noting: The average pace per mile for miles 1-18 (16.5 minutes). The average pace per mile for the remaining miles (29.25 minutes).
Why not sign up for the 100k (new distance) in 2014? There were some snow patches, icy sections, and cold puddles. A strong wind came from the east-south-east and there was plenty of sand. I completed the distance late night or early morning depending upon your clock perspective. In the final 15 miles I was accompanied by 2 skunks and choruses of coyotes yipping in the distance. The cold puddles felt great on my blistered and burning feet. Andy and Grant were at the finish with a couple brats and hardy greetings. During the next 10 days the skin on the bottom of both feet peeled away.
In the role of END-SURE director, I've experienced highs and lows, worry and calm, met many amazing people, and been awed by willing volunteers of all ages. I've had the opportunity to deeply appreciate the Sheyenne National Grasslands in all seasons. Yet the unpredictable late winter/early spring weather slaps me back into acknowledging I have little control over umpteen aspects of life.
In 2018, as well as today the realities of weather have provided opportunities for creativity. A large portion of the North Country Trail in the Sheyenne National Grasslands is immersed under copious layers of snow. The relentless snowfall and winds have required imaginative route planning. It also caused this year's cancellation of the 100 mile distance. The 2019 edition of END-SURE cannot be compared with any previous event. It's a new birth that has enlivened, frustrated, and kept me embracing "what is", not "what I want" to make this experience easy. I'm honored to know that your trust in ENDracing brings you to this event!
4 points of my philosophy for race directing:
- have a course that can be followed, even when tired and brain dead
- have food that will nourish and refresh participants as they visit at the finish
- respect and appreciate every person and their contribution to the event: participants, support crew/family, and volunteers
- provide hospitality in whatever way is meaningful and appropriate
Come and be challenged physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It doesn't matter how you finish or if you finish the complete distance. Embrace the day, the conditions, your efforts, and the gathered community. The 2019 edition of END-SURE will be memorable.......Ya SURE!