FKT: Henry Carlson - Snowbank Lake Loops (MN) - 2023-09-10

Route variation
Snowbank only
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
4h 25m 9s

Arrived at the trailhead just before 8AM, set out with the goal of finishing in sub-5 hours. 

The running gods blessed this day with the best conditions a creature of the forest could ask for -- starting at 50 degrees and ending at just above 60, no clouds, no wind. In woods as dense as these, the bright daylight is a welcome advantage. Sunglasses were in tow, but not used. They served the exclusive purpose of causing me to check my pocket every 5 minutes to make sure I hadn't lost them. 

I opted for a clockwise direction. Not 500 meters into the run, I encountered a SAR team who stopped me to ask if they were heading the right direction. Someone had called in to report that they were lost somewhere on the Kek. Of course, they weren't on the Kek. Glad they asked. I redirected them, and was on my way.

First 10K or so (west side) is easily the most fun and runnable section of the loop. The various crews who maintain the west side of the Snowbank lake trail deserve medals. It's technical, lots of ups and downs, but still very flowy and conducive to getting into a nice rhythm -- A highly motivating start to the mission.

10K to Mile 10ish gradually becomes more and more difficult. Expect to lose track of the trail a few times, navigate beaver dams, steep climbs and descents, dense woods, and some highly technical rocky sections. Also the most beautiful vistas on the whole route, so it's worth pausing to catch your breath and take in the sights. 

Once you reach the boot lake portage at Mile 10ish, you've been through the 'worst' of it. Perfect place to fill up. 

As you proceed south from boot lake (along the east side of snowbank lake), the terrain will be more consistent, fewer steep climbs, less technical overall but very dense.  It hums along until about the 16 mile mark (once the snowbank trail meets up with kek) when things start to get steeper and more technical, with one notable section where you're climbing on all fours for a brief period. 

The final mile is relatively uneventful, but don't let your guard down as it's very rooty and rocky. This is a section that deserves more attention the next time I do it. 

Pulled in at 4:25:09, thus succeeding in breaking the record and my goal of sub-5 hours. I'm confident that with a little more push sub-4 is definitely achievable. 

Watch showed 22.2 miles and almost 4k in elevation gain. but I think that's aggressive. i think it's about 21 miles and 3k+ in elevation. 

Ate about 750 calories (gummy worms), drank a little over 1L. Carried a 16oz disposable water bottle and a lifestraw peak series solo in my pocket. 

A perfect day on snowbank. Kudos to Alex Falconer for inspiring me a few years ago by setting these FKTs.