Monday, July 13, 2009


It's hard to believe that we have been running a "BETA" run on the Superior Hiking Trail for the past four years! Thankfully this was a ritual that began because Larry Pederson was going to direct the Superior Sawtooth 102.5 Mile Run as a point to point along the Superior Hiking Trail. He wasn't sure how long it would take the runners and wasn't sure how long the aid stations would have to be open. He asked if anyone would be interested in running the first 50 miles to see how long it would take. He didn't have to twist my arm!

Scott Wagner set up a weekend and organized BETA I. Maria and I were the only two that ended up finishing the 50 mile BETA run. We had great aid the whole way as Doug and Alicia had the van filled with anything we might need. They met us at each 'aid station' we would use in the race. It was a great beginning to an annual event.

This year 10 of us took on BETA IV. We planned on a day run (one year we ran a night run of 40 miles through the Manitou River area-hard as hell) from Beaver Bay to Co Rd 6. Approximately 25+ or so miles.

Friday I left home early so that I could run a portion of the trail. I decided on a section I haven't run before. I began at Castle Danger and ran to Gooseberry Falls. Ran back to Castle Danger, filled my bottles and then went in the opposite direction; Castle Danger to Encampment River. It was a great day for a run. Sunny and warm, just how I like it. The creeks were all dry. I took a picture of a creek with a big bridge over it..all it consisted of were rocks with no water at all. Even Gooseberry Falls was a trickle.

While I was running deep in the woods I would find myself in the throes of a panic attack. I could feel the worry escalate as I was all alone deep in the woods and I felt claustrophobic .. from all of the trees I guess. I sat down and took deep breathes, calming myself. It was quite odd. I did get over it and tried to smother those feelings when they arrived later during my run. I never did see another person within those miles and I think that is why I felt so panicked.

After my run I headed toward Tofte where our weekend house was. I unpacked, sat on the shoreline of beautiful Lake Superior and waited for the rest of the crew.

As everyone arrived we congregated on the beautiful deck outside, soaking in the last rays of the day. We ate together and planned the course for the next day.

Saturday was another beautiful, sunny and warm day. We hit the trail at 7 in Beaver Bay, running toward Little Marias at County Road 6. We stopped at County Road 1 to drop water..about 17 miles into our run. County Road 6 would bring us to 27 miles.

We were all going to go our own pace, we left three vehicles at the finish. Helen led our pack, Holly followed and then me. As I came up to Bill he told me that Holly was only a few minutes ahead. I never found her.

I had a great day. It was warm, I drank heavily. 72 ounces of Heed to Co Rd 1 and 72 ounces from 1 to Co Rd 6. If I had been carrying 4 24 oz bottles I would have definitely consumed an additional 48 oz. I conserved my Heed until I reached our refueling points. I was surprised as I came upon our water at Co Rd 1 that there didn't seem to be much water gone. I then realized that Holly must be in back of me. I learned after our run that she took a spur trail and went off course 3 or so miles. Luckily she found her way back and was running in back of me with Tom and Nancy.

Bill ended up hurting his knee and Jim convinced him to walk back to Tettegouche Visitor Center where we picked him up later.

I finished the 27 or so miles in 6 hours, then decided to run back toward the group. I ran another 4 miles up the trail, then back down to Co Rd 6, never seeing anyone! I then walked to the gravel pit where we parked the vehicles but our vehicles were not there. I was at the wrong spot. I walked up Co Rd 6 a while longer and eventually came across our vehicles. As I was climbing the hill I saw Helen up in front of me, then saw her leave in her vehicle. She didn't see me so I removed my pack and sat in the lot, waiting for someone to finish. I became bored so began to walk back to the trail head when I saw Jim and Alicia coming up the hill. They both had a grand time.

Jim, Alicia and I went back to pick up Bill. In our ultra induced brains we passed Tettegouche and ended up at Beaver Bay when Jim let us know that we were where we began our day. We passed Tettegouche. Oops. Back to Tettegouch where Bill was waiting for us.

When we arrived to the house John had arrived, having run the 1/2 Voyaguer. Helen was back and soon Maria, Holly, Tom and Nancy arrived. We spent the afternoon on the deck telling stories, speaking of past BETA's and just enjoying ourselves.

Sunday morning came all too soon and we were all off for our own runs. I decided to drive into Duluth, grab a coffee at Dunn Brothers, drive back out to Lester River and run the Grandmas Marathon route from Mile 19 to 26. I wanted to run the stiffness out of my legs and run upon stable smooth ground. I wasn't the only one running that route; many others were out as well.

Another fine weekend at BETA IV. We are already looking forward to BETA V!

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