Two years ago, I completed my first trail marathon at the North Face Endurance Challenge Series in Wisconsin.
Last year, I returned to the beautiful Kettle Moraine State Park to run my first ultra, a 50K, at the North Face event.
This year there will be no “firsts” but I am eager to return to the well-organized, scenic race. And you should run it, too.
Use discount code ECSAMBHH15 and join me at the North Face race in Dousman, Wisc., on Sept. 16-17. There is a distance for everyone — 50 miles, 50K, marathon, marathon relay, half marathon, 10K and 5K.
And if Wisconsin isn’t in your travel plans, the North Race series offers events in other cities such as Park City, Utah; San Francisco, Calif.; Bear Mountain, N.Y.; Washington, D.C.; and Ontario, Canada.
Still not convinced? Here are the top reasons to try a North Face race.
1. The packet pickup is easy and convenient. In Wisconsin, the North Face offers several locations to choose from. At the North Face store, roughly 10 miles from the race start, packet pickup includes guest speakers such as last year’s panel, featuring the founders of the November Project.
2. As noted above, there is literally a race distance for everyone. The longer distances are run on Saturdays, while the half marathon and shorter distances are held on Sundays.
3. The race director sent out regular updates with great information and links so that runners are well prepared when race morning dawns.
4. Race morning was a breeze. There were plenty of parking spots within a short walk from the race start area, where there was a gear check tent, fire pits and more. While there were port-a-pots, the park’s indoor restrooms were very popular.
5. No matter the distance, the trails are expertly marked with colored ribbons, specifically coded to each race distance. The trails are well-maintained, offer beautiful views and are easily runnable from start to finish (even in the 50K).
6. The aid stations are staffed by helpful volunteers and stocked with great options for refueling. I was delighted beyond belief that Tailwind Nutrition was available, along with the customary aid station food including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas, salted potatoes, M&Ms, water, Coke and other fueling options.
7. The volunteers from start to finish were excellent. Beyond the packet pickup, volunteers on race morning were helpful at bag check and those on the course were cheerful, knowledgeable and helpful.
8. Runners received a nice tech shirt at packet pickup. Finishers also picked up a nice medal, and those who placed overall or in the age groups, received a memento to remember their strong finish.
9. The post-race party is among the best I have attended. There are great choices for food, and a free beer for runners 21 and older.
10. Last not certainly not least, on Saturday, ultra running legend and North Face athlete Dean Karnazes will answer questions, pose for photos and sign autographs at the Finish Line Festival.