Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement

The 2014 Minnesota Section 7AA boys 4×400 relay … it is always the final event of the final high school track meet of the season, unless you happen to be one of those top runners or relay teams that qualifies for the State Meet.  From the start of the throwing events to the last 4×400 relay, this year’s Section meet held at the end of May turned into an almost 10-hour event, as lightning and rain storms repeatedly moved through and required delay after delay.  The events have to be run in order to send runners to the State Meet, and the final deadline for completing Section races in order to qualify for State was mere hours away.

2014 Minnesota Section 7AA boys 4x400 finish

As the sky turned black with storm clouds, and the rain started once again, the runners were rushed onto the track for the final heat of this final relay race of the day.  The gun went off, signaling the start of the race, hours after the originally scheduled start time.  The skies opened up as the boys ran their two laps each around the 400m track, handing off the slippery wet baton to the next runner, until all four runners on each team completed their circuit.  By the time the final runners crossed the finish line, you couldn’t even see 100 meters down the track.  Spectators and runners alike were soaked to the skin.  Competing in any race is an achievement, but the conditions under which these high school runners ran at this meet deserves special recognition.

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”Achievement” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split-Second Story

The thrill of victory …. the agony of defeat … one shot says it all.  The underdogs, Duluth East’s 4×400 meter relay team, seeded 5th for the race, captured the first place spot in the Minnesota Section 7AA high school track meet.  The top two relay teams move on to the State Meet, and the face of the runner for the top-seeded Andover team, just a split-second behind second place, reflects that fact.

section girls 4x400 16 5_31_14

Congratulations to all the runners (as well as the race officials, coaches, and spectators!) at yesterday’s meet, which turned into a 9 1/2 hour marathon full of weather delays, stops and starts.  It was quite a day.  Every race has a story to tell.

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. ”Split-Second Story” was this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

Nothing says Spring like an outdoor track meet!  The chill in the air as the sun goes down and the lights come on, the cheers of teams on the sidelines as the 4×400 relay wraps up the day’s events.   High school students giving it their all around the track.  Every meet has moments of inspiration that make spectating worthwhile.

Diving for the finish line

 Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.  ~ Steve Prefontaine

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. ”Spring” was this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

Multiple layers are the rule, rather than the exception, when running the “Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run” in International Falls, Minnesota!  Yes, only in Minnesota.

Starting line of the 2008 Freeze Yer Gizzard run

The year I ran this 10K race, the starting line temps were around –20º Fahrenheit (that’s not a typo, folks) (-28º Celsius) with an added nip of wind that lowered the windchill to the –40º Fahrenheit (-40º Celsius) range!  Covering every inch of skin multiple times (including a layer of Vaseline on exposed face skin) was not only critical for comfort, but essential for frostbite prevention.

After the Freeze Yer Gizzard run

Those not running still required head-to-toe layered gear, darting into the nearby building during the race to stay warm, and greeting the brutal winter elements only at the beginning and end of the race.

Post-run, a frosty finish
After crossing the finish line, I had an extra frosty layer.

The 34th running of the “Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run” will take place on Saturday, January 18, 2014, in conjunction with International Falls’ annual “Icebox Days” festival.  Where else can you compete for prizes through outdoor frozen turkey bowling!?  It was so cold the year we attended, that many of these classic outdoor events were canceled — just another reason to return again.

If you can’t beat the cold, you have to join it!  Layer up!

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge”Layers” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

When Winter Gets Long, Celebrate the Snow and Ice: Book Across the Bay

While global warming may be a reality, it does not make the winters seem any shorter some years.  By mid-February, the winter doldrums can set in, and a lack of snow actually can make those doldrums worse by revealing the dull shades of gray and lifeless brown for much longer than we care to see.  For those of us living in the northwoods of Minnesota and Wisconsin (with a friendly shout out to you U.P.’ers, as well!), surviving the winter gray days requires creative ways of embracing them.  Let me introduce you to an event which fully embraces the season — the “Book Across the Bay” ski race, which bridges the cities of Ashland and Washburn, Wisconsin.

Shuttle bus from Washburn to the starting line in Ashland
Shuttle bus from Washburn to the starting line in Ashland

In the winter of 2011, a friend of mine and I amazingly found ourselves with a Saturday free of work and/or family obligations, and set aside the day in February to travel to Washburn and Ashland to enjoy the event which is well-known in our neck of the woods.  Race organizers recommend that you park your car near the finish line in Washburn, where a shuttle bus will take you to the starting line area in Ashland, just across one of Lake Superior’s bays.

The finish line in Washburn where torches will light the race's end-- across the bay in Ashland is the starting line.
The finish line in Washburn where torches will light the race’s end — across the bay in Ashland is the starting line.

Book Across the Bay bag drop off

The registration and warming tent in the starting area.

Skis are lined up along the sides of the registration tent and starting line area where people congregate waiting for the race to begin at 6:00 p.m.

Snow was a little sparse in 2011 -- must be picnic season
Snow was a little sparse in 2011 — must be picnic season!

Hotel Chequamegon overlooking Chequamegon Bay in Ashland

The race starts on Chequamegon Bay with the historic Hotel Chequamegon standing watch from Ashland’s shore.  A massive pile of logs will soon turn into a festive bonfire.

Book Across the Bay starting line 2011

Thin snowfall years can make for a rough trail across the bay — grooming machines were out creating lanes and trying to cut a classic track, but as you can see from the photo below, 2011 was a good year to bring out the rock . . .er, ice . . . skis if you had them.

Book Across the Bay 2011
Leftover Christmas trees decorate the edges of the race tracks.

As the bonfire is lit, the crowds grow both inside and outside of the warming tent, while the waiting skis and poles colorfully line the foreground.

Book Across the Bay starting bonfire 2011
Book Across the Bay starting bonfire 2011
Kat B. is ready to Book across the Bay!
Kat B. is ready to Book across the Bay!

The sunlight grows dimmer and the starting time of 6:00 draws closer.  Fairies fly by with tulle tutus gracefully adorning ski pants.

book across bay fairy 2011

Book Across the Bay starting line 2011
Skiers and snowshoers begin lining up at the start.

book across bay start fires 2011

Over 3,800 people participated in the 2011 race!  Waiting for the signal to start, we could see the bonfires and ice lantern luminaries lighting our 10 kilometer racecourse.

One of the up to 1,000 ice luminaries lighting the way
One of the up to 1,000 ice luminaries lighting the way.

Bonfires, decorations and treats provide interest and entertainment along the way. While some may come to actually race the 10 kilometer distance, many more were there to just enjoy what ended up being a beautiful evening.  I would periodically step off the track to take photos at some of the bonfires marking the course — enjoying a s’more granola bar at one fire, a cup of hot chocolate at another, and then at another bonfire wayside receiving a strand of mardi gras beads!

One of the festive Book Across the Bay racecourse bonfires.
One of the festive Book Across the Bay racecourse bonfires.
Highest elevation marking
Highest elevation marker — note the ice chunk elevated above the frozen bay?

Magically, fireworks appear above the finish line still somewhat in the distance.  Oohs and aahs from skiers and snowshoers on the course create a joyous setting, as the colorful display reflects on the snow and ice in front of us.  The finish line announcer reads names of the finishers as they complete the race and move toward the warming tent, where hot chili, hot drinks, beer and music are waiting.

Plenty of time to register for the 2013 race, scheduled for February 16!  If I cannot get there this year, you can be sure I will again in the future —  perhaps I will see you there?!  Book Across the Bay was a great memory and a wonderful way to chase the winter doldrums away.

Ciao! ~ Kat

For race and registration information: Book Across the Bay ~ http://www.batb.org/