This was a race I did last year and really enjoyed, despite the extremely cold temperatures and wind chills from the wind coming right off of the lake. The event is held at Maumee Bay State Park right along the coast of lake Erie and is home to some great camping, golfing, swimming and a lodge with all the amenities. I will say the race organizers get an A+ for being honest when it comes to the description of their race, just read the what they posted on imATHLETE:
"Let’s be honest about this race for a moment. This race has the absolutely worse weather of any outdoor event not only in the Midwest, but perhaps in the entire US (of course I have not done that Ultra marathon in Death Valley, so I could be wrong). Due to the time of year and the unique positioning of Maumee Bay State Park right on the shore of Lake Erie, the running conditions border on being suicidal! Expect Gale Force Winds, Snow, Sleet, Rain, Freezing Temperatures, Icy & Snow covered Roads, swarms of locusts, and the four horsemen of the apocalypse, all in the same 4.34 mile course. This race makes running a marathon look really easy!!!! If you had a brain in your head, you would run screaming from this entry form, but as I know you will not, don’t come complaining to me on race day about the weather. Oh, by the way the four horsemen don’t get scored in the age groups, so that is at least one positive thing. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! Don’t even think that I cancel this race for any of the above conditions, just get your snow shoes and survival gear ready and pay up the insurance before you come! Now back to the entry form."
Last year we had cold temps and gale force winds, this year it was just freaking cold. The course weaves its way around the grounds of the park, utilizing the road and paved bicycle trails. Once you get about a half mile from the lodge you are some what protected from the trees, but that all changes for the last mile. You turn north to exit the campground area and climb a small hill to come face to face with the frigid Lake Erie wind. This year the wind wasn't that bad, but any wind coming off that lake, just makes everything cold. You continue along the lake for the majority of that last mile before turning south for the finish back at the lodge.
Once I finished, I headed to my car to grab a Powerade and dump some of my gear so I could take a few pictures. It was perfect timing, just as I was finished taking a selfie at the start/finish line, my friend and Fremont Inland Turtle Running Group mate April was just coming down the final stretch. I shot a couple pictures of her and saw she was being closely followed by a guy with his little dog. The dog was so cute, and this gave me the thought to start training with Jedi to maybe run this race next year with me. Later I found out from April that the dog kept barking at her, as to say, good job keep going. After that we walked back down the final stretch to watch and cheer the other runners as we waited for the other Turtles to finish.
We headed for the lodge to get warmed up, grab some grub and check the final results. They had a nice spread again complete with bananas, bagels various cookies and of course their well known large shamrock shaped sugar cookies with thick green icing, Mmmmmm. They are in limited supply and go quick so I didn't have a chance to get a shot of them, but I did manage to eat one, which I split with April.
Shamrock shaped medals are given to the first 60 finishers, and last year my goal was just to finish with a good time and be a top 60 finisher. I ended up finishing in 36:59 @ 8:29 per mile avg. and got myself a medal. This year I wanted to better my time and get another medal and boy did I do that. I finished with an overall time of 32:26 @ 7:28 per mile avg. and not only did I get a medal, I finished 24th overall and 4th in my age group which netted me a nice beer mug. I was super happy with how things went and how my knee held up.
My next race coming up is my 3rd Run-aversary at the Run the Res 5K in mid April. This was my first race I ever did and I continue to use it as a bench mark of how far I have come and to remind me just how hard I have worked.