Superior 100 2014 – The wild is calling!

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Northern Minnesota is calling me…

In just 4-weeks, I will be heading out to the USA to work on and photograph the Superior 100.

Superior 100 will be my only trip to the US this year and I am really stoked to be part of a race with such an incredible history. To add to the experience, 1992 Superior 100 race winner and US ultra running legend Eric Clifton is coming back to run! Eric has a list of palmares that goes back to ‘89’ when he toed the line Vermont 100 and he only went and won the race in 15:48:59. Since then, Eric has been an ever present on the racing scene and in addition to winning Vermont 100 multiple times he has topped the podium at races such as:

  • JFK 50,
  • Old Dominion 100,
  • Mohican 100,
  • Rocky Racoon 100,
  • Bull Run 50,
  • Umstead 100,
  • Massanuten 100,
  • Crown King Scramble 50,
  • Ice Age Trail 50,
  • Kettle Moraine 100,
  • Badwater 135,
  • Mount Rushmore 100,
  • Heartland 100,
  • San Diego 100,
  • McNaughton Park 100

Eric’s most recent victory came in ‘08’ at Noble Canyon 50km. Just reading Eric’s victory list blows my mind but a take a look here, the list goes on with a plethora of top-10 places and race finishes. A true legend of the sport and I can’t wait to chat and have my horizons opened to a world and a series of races that I have only previously read about!

Superior 100

Founded in ‘91’, Superior 100 is one of the oldest 100-mile trail races in the country. Way back in the day it was one of an elite band of 10-12 100-mile races in the US. Founded by Harry Sloan, the race did have a name change some time back when it was called, Sawtooth 100, however it was changed back to its original name and that has stuck to present day.

Minnesota, the home of the Superior 100 has a long and proud ultra running history and I have to say, this Brit just can’t wait to immerse himself in the experience. Much of my year is now spent working on races all over the world. In just the last couple of years I have seen the calendar explode. To go back to a ‘pure’ race excites me and I have to say, it will be my first real experience of one the corner stones of our sport.

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‘Rugged, Relentless and Remote, Superior 100 is known as one of the toughest 100mile trail races in the world!  Now known as one of the ‘legacy 100-milers’ the race is considered by many to be one of the most challenging, prestigious and beautiful 100-mile trail races in the country. None of the history or tradition of this race has been lost and it is a great event for those looking for a world-class event with a low-key, old school 100 miler feel.  The Superior Trail Race is put on by ultra runners for ultra runners.’

Be honest, how could you not be pulled in by that quote!

A point-to-point ultra marathon that is 100% trail! The race route traverses the Sawtooth Mountain Range (hence the old Sawtooth 100 name) on the Superior Hiking Trail in the far reaches northern Minnesota.  Lake Superior, the greatest freshwater lake in the world provides a stunning backdrop to a race that climbs to near 2000′ peaks with breath-taking vistas of the lake and inland forests. Crossing countless whitewater rivers and serene streams the 100-mile route meanders through mystic Boreal forests. Gooseberry Falls State Park Visitors’ Center, MN hosts the start of the race and a welcome finish awaits each and every runner at Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, MN.

I will be heading out to the US on September 2nd and heading back to ‘Blighty’ on September 8th. It’s a whistle stop tour but I plan to immerse myself in the experience, culture and I hope to meet up with so many friends, virtual or real, in and around the trails of the Superior 100.

If you are racing, spectating or crewing, good luck! An awesome experience awaits us all.

Images ©Superior Endurance Runs (Fall Races)

Don’t forget, the race also has the Moose Mountain Marathon and the Superior 50-miler all happening at the same time. (Entrants for all races HERE)

Links:

INFO:

Superior Trail Races 2014
Friday September 5th 2014


100 Mile Starts 8:00 AM
Saturday September 6th 2014

50 Mile Starts 5:30 AM


Marathon Starts 8:00 AM


Registration opens Sat March 15th

Dragon’s Back Race – DVD

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“YOU ARE MOST ALIVE WHEN YOU ARE MOST FEARFUL”

I love a good movie! I don’t mind if it is in the cinema or at home. Both have pluses and minuses.

A big plus of the cinema is popcorn from the ticket desk and of course, when I am in my seat, that is it. I don’t move until the movies over… you see, I am always easily distracted. I always have ‘something’ to do!

At home I can kick back, put my feet up, get a glass of wine and hopefully relax. If the movie doesn’t grab me, I often find I am reaching for my laptop and then I somehow multi task. More to the point, my work gets my attention and the movie drifts away from my mind and it becomes a distant memory.

This didn’t happen with the Dragon’s Back Race!

Running movies are a tough call. If you are ‘interested’ and by that, I mean a runner or enthusiastic sports person, you can often continue watching a poor movie because the content enthrals you. Very few running movies have been ale to combine key elements and not only provide a great story but also be able to tell it in a visual way, with thoughtful dialogue and importantly a great soundtrack. For comparison I mention ‘The Runner’ by JB Benna, a story about David Horton running the Pacific Crest Trail (2,700 miles) and most recently, “A fine line – Summits of my life” by Sebastian Montaz-Rosset. As I am sure many of you will know, this movie documents Kilian Jornet over the first of his Summits series. I consider the latter filmmaker, Seb Montaz, a master of his craft.

Lets cut to the chase!

I loved the Dragon’s Back Race dvd. It provides a movie experience for all. I strongly feel, very much like the James Cracknell documentary on the Marathon des Sables, that this movie is extremely watchable and intereting for all concerned.

It really does tick all the boxes.

An epic journey, stunning scenery and locations, thoughtful and meaningful story telling, glory, pain, struggles and strife. Not only that, but for the most part, the sun was shining in Wales… that doesn’t happen often, does it!

Documenting the story of eighty four runners, from fifteen countries, the Dragon’s Back Race takes hold of you from the start as the dulcet tones of a male voice choir and the views on Conway Castle lead us into a journey of 300km over five days and altitude gains of 17,000m. The last year this race was held was in 1992.

The film takes you into the heart of the 2012 race as the competitors navigate an individual path down the spine of Wales. Never has Wales looked so good on film.

It’s a compelling and beautiful story. Remote, relentless, ruthless but ravishing.

“I expect to suffer much physical pain” says Rob Baker, eventually placing second overall.

As with all races, somebody comes first and somebody comes last. Without doubt, the film follows the battle for the front of the race between Steve Birkinshaw, Rob Baker and Patrick Devine Wright. But for balance, a wonderful insight is provided into Helene Whitaker (she raced the Dragon’s Back in 1992 and won it). She conveys true mountain spirit, “You don’t enter something like this if you know you can finish it”. And she is right, by day four, from the eighty four starters, only 28 people are left in the race.

One of the twenty eight, is no61 and of course, she is sixty one years old, Wendy Dodd. Also a participant in the 1992 race, she personifies true mountain spirit, guts and a desire to achieve, “It is far more harmful to be inactive than active” she retorts, poles in hand as she powers up a climb. On leaving a checkpoint after a well earned rest and refuel, she stops, turns to the camera and says, “Got to get to the post office before it closes, I need to get my pension”.

It is this humility, this passion and I guess the quirkiness of all those who undertake such challenges that gives the Dragon’s Back Race such broad appeal.

If anyone asks you in the future, “What is mountain running like in England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales?”

Point them in the direction of the Dragon’s Back Race dvd. They won’t be disappointed.

Links:

The dvd is available HERE

What others are saying:

“Breathtaking” – Trail Running Magazine

“Awesome endurance and stunning filming” – UKHillwalking.com

“One of the great running documentaries. A must see for any runner” – Sheffield Adventure Film Festival

“A film of epic proportions” – MudSweatandTears.co.uk

“Remote, Relentless, Ruthless and Ravishing” – talkultra.com

Many thanks to Shane Ohly for my advance copy of the dvd and the opportunity to review it, *Please note, I am not connected to the Dragon’s Back Race in any way. This is an impartial review.