Race: The Fall 50
Runner: Coach Zach Ziesemer
Race Date: 10/22/2022
Location: Door County, WI
Results: 1st place overall, 6:11:38
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/8003444909
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- Race crew friendly
- Beautiful fall colors and lake views
- Awesome post-race party!!!
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
Volunteers were still setting up the water stations at the solo tents for the first couple of aid stations by the time the first runners got there. Wasn’t the biggest issue but did put you out of your flow slightly (could get water from the tents geared for team runners).
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
Not necessarily weird, but the event does tend to highlight the team offering of the event. However, it doesn’t seem to overshadow those competing solo.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
The first 30 miles went great and were on parr with what I expected averaging a sub-7:00 minute mile. Despite the latter portions of the race having opportunities for improvement I’m not complaining, coming within 11 minutes of my goal time for my inaugural ultra. The last 20 miles it was nice competing with two other athletes which kept each of us honest to the finish line. We all finished within five minutes of one another.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
Pace yourself! With it typically being a cooler start you may be inclined to go out faster than you should. Also, if you’ve integrated hill repeats into your training you should be fine as you do tackle four climbs during the first half of the route.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
Fueling is key! Being my first ultra I had researched fueling strategies prior to the race and had planned to take an energy gel every 45 minutes. However, I soon realized having the same consistency and sweetness over and over was going to pose a bigger challenge than I anticipated. Fortunately, just prior to mile 30 there was an aid station outfitted with broth and PB&J’s that hit the spot! In the subsequent aid stations, they had Cliff bars (among other items) that I relied on to get me through the remaining 20 miles. Prior to my next race I’ll be introducing fueling into my training, which I’ve omitted in the past.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
Between mile 32-38 you’re open to the elements and there was a decent north facing wind which of course was the opposite direction of the course which served as a challenge. The remainder of the course you do have decent coverage on either side with tree coverage.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
It is a beautiful time of year as it takes place at the peak of the fall colors. This combined with the fantastic lake views make it that much more enjoyable.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
Being virtually all pavement (outside of a small section in Door Peninsula State Park) your legs certainly take a pounding over 50 miles. The course has about 4,000 feet of elevation changes throughout the entire race with four decent climbs. The last 20 miles are relatively flat and open.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Outside of a couple water station glitches at the first two aid stations everything else was organized wonderfully.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Seems that the finishing times have varied from year to year. The last couple of years (2019 & 2021) had finishing times around 7 hours with this last year coming in closer to 6 hours. The course record had been set by Zach Bitter back in 2015 with a finishing time around 5 hours 17 minutes.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
The team relay option for the race sells out soon after registration opens. However, if you are a solo runner the event doesn’t typically sell out. There is a limited number of hotels in the Sturgeon Bay area so I would recommend reserving a room early. I ended up renting out a room from a motel in Ahnapee which is about 20 minutes from Sturgeon Bay, which worked out well.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
There are nine aid stations along the route. Typical fare of items that include gels, bars, fruit, water, and an electrolyte drink. The aide station that’s just prior to mile 30 offers an extended menu to include soup, broth, PB&J, chicken, among other items.
Weather and typical race conditions
October in Wisconsin can always be a hit or miss in terms of the conditions that you’ll get (i.e. rain, snow, sun). This year the weather turned great. Race start temps were in the 40’s and it worked its way up to low 60’s by race end.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
With it being a road race and having a decent amount of aid stations along the course it’s not necessary to carry excessive amounts of liquids and nutrition, which could weigh you down.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
The course is very conducive to support crews cheering on runners along the course and at the aid stations. If you’re looking at viewing runners within Peninsula State Park a park pass is needed.
How’s the Swag?
The finisher sweatshirts are awesome and comfortable. 50-mile solo finishers also receive nice winter hats that identify you as a 50-mile finisher.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it
I’m excited to do this race again as the scenery is beautiful and the event is very well put together. The post-race party is epic and features a band, beer, wine, and pizza under large tents that shelter you for the elements. 5/5 rating is my rating for the event and would say that it makes a nice event for entry to seasoned athletes.
Zach Ziesemer is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.