As tempted as I am to write a full, detailed event report, I think the details are best left to others for reasons that will become obvious. I’ll just give a topical recap.
Run Woodstock is a trail running festival held in Hell, Michigan. We’ve attended the event each year since it was founded four years ago by Randy Step and his Running Fit (a local running store) gang. The race features three days of races ranging from several 5ks all the way up to a 100 miler. My first 100 mile finish came at the inaugural Hallucination 100 back in 2009… which makes this event special. The event also serves as a meetup for all our ultra friends from around Michigan.
This year, we deliberately planned our schedule to assure our attendance. We managed to convince our friends Christian Peterson (aka The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy) and his wife Amy to join us from Minnesota. Jesse Scott was in Michigan, so he joined us, too. We arrived on Thursday well before most participants. Our kids were staying with Shelly’s mom and we wouldn’t have to drive anywhere. As it turns out, that’s a recipe for serious hijinks. What follows is a rough outline of events… with enough emissions to make us seem remotely normal. If you’re the easily offended type that is morally opposed to the drinking of alcohol or silly shenanigans, it’s best to skip the rest of this post.
- Arrive at campground, spend 90 minutes trying to shoehorn our home (34′ travel trailer) into the campsite. Amy saved us using her engineer prowess.
- Begin our “game” we decided to play- the Dirty Thirty Tourney. The goal is to try to drink 30 beers by midnight. The backup plan- tape the beer cans together to make a wizard staff. When your staff surpassed your height, you became a wise wizard. Shelly and Amy opted for wine over beer.
- When the wizard staffs were nearing our height, clothes may or may not have been shed, there may have been some swimming, and we may have run a lap around the campground. The water was cold. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
- Campers began arriving; we caught up with many of our friends. Most were from the Michigan area, though some came form far away. Our friend James and his friend Tim came from California.
- Randy, the RD, had heard of our shenanigans the previous night and recruited us to man the aid station for the natural fun run later that night. We were non-committal at first, but Shelly and I decided to give it a go after we started working on our wizard staffs again. This was definitely one of the coolest “races” I’ve been a part of.
- Upon arriving back at the campsite, we more or less just hung out making each other laugh with quotes from cultural references… mostly derived from memes, Sacha Baron Cohen movies, YouTube videos, and Skora goat leather jokes.
- Eventually we remembered we had races in the morning and went to bed.
- We eventually slogged out of bed and ran our respective races- Christian ran the 50 miler, Shelly ran the 50k, and Jesse and I ran the half marathon. It was cold and I regretted my clothing choice- a pair of short jean cutoffs and tie-dyed “wife beater” (A shirt). I don’t think too many of the half marathoners got the joke. Luckily at least a few of my friends laughed (thanks Jesse and Jocelyn)!
- My race was going fairly well even though I had no idea how to pace a half marathon… especially on trails. At about mile eight, I felt a twinge in my foot. By mile nine it was difficult to maintain a running gait. Since Grindstone is so close, I decided to bail and skipped a 2+ mile loop. I shamefully DNFed a half marathon.
- Jesse ended up finishing his race, but the rest of the crew DNFed their races, also. We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon cheering friends as they finished, including our friend Mark Robillard finishing his second 50 miler in two weeks, Ryan Hansard finishing his first 50 miler, Steve Jablonski finishing the 50 miler in a smoking fast time, Mark Norfleet and Phil Stapert finishing the 100 miler, and a ton of other amazing accomplishments.
- The rest of the crew started drinking fairly early, but I had a barefoot clinic at 6pm. We hung out with our friend Michelle Shimmel, a friend we met a few Woodstocks ago. When the time finally rolled around, we had a great crowd of between 35-50 people. I gave a brief biography, went through the methods we use form Merrell’s Bareform techniques, then fielded some excellent questions. This was one of the best clinic crowds I’ve had.
- After the clinic, we went back to our campsite and hung out the rest of the night. Since we didn’t have any other responsibilities, we continued drinking. We were joined by James and Tim for a good portion of the afternoon and evening. There was some dancing, lots of laughing, but surprisingly little nudity. This turned out to be a pretty good filter for those that were okay with our hijinks and those that were not. We may have made a few of the more serious runner-types slightly uncomfortable with some of our shenanigans, especially when Shelly and Amy repeatedly asked people to show their abs.
- We woke up, cleaned up the crime scene-like campsite, packed up the trailer, and headed home.
Woodstock is quite possibly the most fun running event we’ve attended. Randy and his crew are expert race directors and continue to build the atmosphere at the event. There are distances that appeal to all skill levels, and the non-running activities are a blast. There’s live music Friday and Saturday, which adds to the party atmosphere. The Woodstock theme and related activities is a perfect marriage to trail running. For us, it’s a time to meet up with friends and have a great time. I wish there were more events on this scale around the country.
This recap omitted many of the details including the pictures I took either didn’t turn out due to poor camera operation or complete and total inappropriateness. The pictures were erased, but the memories will last forever. The weekend certainly highlighted our “life is to be enjoyed” philosophy. If you’re curious about the omitted details, ask us if you see us in person.
Thanks to all those that stopped by our campsite, including Ben V., Kai and Farra, Mark N. (and thanks for the beer… it was amazing!), Mark P. and the rest of the Ohio gang, Grand Slammer Kevin Green, Alex Poulson and the rest of your gang, Luke K., and everyone else that joined our fun!
This is truly a can’t miss event. If you’re a runner and like to have fun, Woodstock does not disappoint. We’ll be back next year!