The Minnesota Voyageur Trail 50 has been around since 1982, the year that Gene and Barb Curnow, fixtures in the Duluth area running community, created the event. In fact, the Voyageur is one of the oldest ultramarathons in the nation. The Curnows nurtured the race and watched it grow into an event that has a special old school feel and is sort of a rite of passage for upper midwest area ultrarunners. As new race directors, we didn’t want to change things too much. After the race, our men’s champion Chris Gardner let us know we were on the right track telling us we updated just enough (website, online registration, new maps) but didn’t change the feel of the event. That was the best compliment we could have gotten, because that’s exactly what we had hoped to do with this race. The Curnows started a real good thing and we wanted to honor all of their hard work and dedication to the race by keeping it much like it always has been.
|Chris Gardner surfing the powerlines|
About this time, the clouds decided to open up and the rain started to fall. It rained off and on for a couple of hours at this point, cooling the runners but also creating a muddy clay slip-and-slide for the runners in the powerline section. The return trip for our leaders was destined to be “fun.”
At the Zoo turnaround, Gardner looked strong with Dusty close behind. Dusty had also lightened his “load” in the bushes since Skyline and was ready to roll back to the finish. Chris Lundstrom was now in third with John Storkamp still running strong in 4th. The top four runners were still very close at this point and it was still unclear who would be the strongest back to the finish. Dusty remarked as he left the Zoo aid station that he wondered how Gardner could climb. It was clear that Dusty was still feeling good. By the time the leaders arrived back at the Skyline aid station Gardner was still in the lead, but Chris Lundstrom had cut his lead to only 2 minutes and had overtaken Dusty in the process. The race was on! It looked as if Lundstrom might overtake Gardner before the Beck’s Road aid station at the 50K mark.
At the turnaround Kim retained about a 5 minute lead on April but Angie was right there now as well and looking strong. Connie remained in fourth running a very smart race. By the 50K mark at Beck’s Road, Kim had widened the gap slightly to 8 minutes over Angie who was now running very strong. Could Kim maintain her advantage and stay in the lead? How far back was Connie and was she surging on her way back to the finish?
It seemed that the only question now was whether Gardner could break the seemingly untouchable course record of 6:41 set in 1998 by Scott Jurek. By Peterson aid station it was clear that the course record would be safe for another year. However, it was also apparent that Gardner would more than likely finish under the exclusive 7 hour mark.
Over in the women’s race, things were getting interesting. Just before the Seven Bridges aid station at mile 37, Kim pulled in to get aid and was told to look over her shoulder. Not more than 200 yards down the trail, first time 50 miler Angie Radosevich was closing in fast! This lit a fire under Kim and she headed out quickly to tackle the steep and now very slippery powerlines. She had no choice now but to hammer this hilly section as hard as she could. And hammer she did! By the next aid station at Grand Portage 3 miles away, Kim had once again built a lead of a couple minutes over Angie. Angie remained strong but couldn’t match the speed the Voyageur veteran maintained over the last 11 miles to the finish. Kim continued to widen her gap over Angie and finished strong with a winning time of 8:30:09.