I was planning to run a backyard ultra this weekend, but the race was cancelled, so my friend Emma Cameron and I decided to attempt to set the FTK for the Military Ridge trail. We started at the trailhead in Dodgeville a few minutes after 8 am. Weather conditions were very good for running - about 29 degrees at the start. It warmed up to 48 degrees by the end. Wind was from the NNW at 10 -15 mph. We left drop bags spaced out at about ten-mile distances to refuel and hydrate. The trail is about 95% crushed limestone with a few short sections of asphalt. It made for a good route as most of the trail is not heavily used, so we did not encounter many people at all until we got closer to the Madison metro area.
The first nine-mile segment from Dodgeville to Ridgeway went very well, although running at about 7:15/mile pace would prove to have been a bit too fast. For the next ten miles we continued at a brisk 7:30/mile pace. Felt pretty good coming into Blue Mounds for a break, but things got more challenging after that.
As we left Blue Mounds both Emma and I were starting to feel the mileage and our pace began to slow. Took the first of several walking breaks through the Village of Mount Horeb. We made it to our final bag drop at Riley averaging a bit over 8:00/miles per hour for that segment, but the home stretch would prove to be a challenge. We had some friends and family cheering us on through Mount Horeb and Verona so that helped provide a boost toward the end of the run.
An increasingly warm sun, accumulation of miles, and nutrition challenges slowed things considerably for the final 10 miles. Walk breaks became more frequent, but we were determined to complete the trek. With a couple of miles left Emma was really struggling and out of water, so I offered to run ahead and pick up a Gatorade to hand to her as she came across the finish line. Our friend Steve was out on his bike and cheered us on as we finished. I reached the end of the route as the bridge crosses McKee Rd (Hwy PD) in Fitchburg at an elapsed time of 5:51:31. Emma completed the route a few minutes later. Exhausted and sore, we celebrated with cookies, proud to have completed this challenging run.