Overall Rating
Overall Rating (6 Reviews)
4.3
(6 Ratings)(6 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
4.7
SCENERY
4.7
PRODUCTION
4.5
SWAG
3.7
The perfect midsummer road trip trail run! Just north of Madison lies Devil’s Lake, an area of amazing geological, ice age creation, the perfect backdrop for an adventure run that includes “The most dramatic aid station location in the world!” Dances with Dirt continues to lure runners over to the … MORE
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Recent reviews

    bizzeeintc FIRST-TIMER '19

    The course is great - almost completely covered with open air on the bluff and lake. Starting early helps get to the bluff without bumping into hikers. The field size … MORE

    The course is great – almost completely covered with open air on the bluff and lake. Starting early helps get to the bluff without bumping into hikers.

    The field size is several hundred people, and ability varies widely, so there was little bunching or bumping into others. The trails for the most part were wide, with the only bottleneck being near the bluff – other participants taking group pictures, and you have to hop down a couple rocks. If it isn’t apparent from the map, you only traverse the EAST side of the lake, the race does not go around the lake. I think going around the lake would be cool, but logistically challenging. This course IS hilly, so practice running up steep grades, the first half was tough, after that most of it is minor ups/downs.

    Near the start, porta-johns were plentiful, I didn’t have to wait long to go, even <10min before the start. The 10k race started at 8AM, and it was already heating up. I passed a handful of half marathoners, who started at 7am. I don't envy the 50-miler runners that started at 5AM, it was getting pretty hot when we were hiking later and still saw them going…kudos to them. All other distances than the 10k see more of the park, I think the 50 mile had a lap to do, out-n-backs.

    Packet pickup was quick, they asked people to look up their bib number before approaching which always saves a LOT of time. I did not go to the pickup the night before, but it went to 8PM – rare for a packet pickup and great for out-of-towners. Regarding swag, the shirt was wicking with the DWD logo and name on the front – pretty standard. The medal was nice, but same for the 10k and half marathon, the only difference being the neck ribbon. I don’t know what the other distances medals looked like – I’d hope if you do a 50k/50mi you would get an awesome looking medal. I’d definitely do this race again, probably the half marathon, but a longer distance…the heat and humidity would be the one thing holding me back.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    mjenn66 FIRST-TIMER '19

    Beautiful area around Devil's Lake state park in Wisconsin. A little crazy because they are running a 10K, Half, Marathon, 50K, and 50 mile, all on the same day. Overall … MORE

    Beautiful area around Devil’s Lake state park in Wisconsin. A little crazy because they are running a 10K, Half, Marathon, 50K, and 50 mile, all on the same day. Overall it was a pretty smooth event. Course is tough. A lot of elevation gain and loss, lots of rocks, tree roots, dirt, and grass. Warm temps made this years races even tougher. Top five age group awards is nice. Awards ceremony is very basic. Finisher medal is ok. Food was decent after race. Parking was good. One nice feature was they had a shower head hooked up to a hose to cool off after the race. That was a life saver for me, as temps reached close to 90 by noon.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    2

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    timcigelske FIRST-TIMER '14

    The guy running next to me yelled out when he crossed the finish line: That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done! There’s a good chance he wasn’t exaggerating. I … MORE

    The guy running next to me yelled out when he crossed the finish line:

    That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done!

    There’s a good chance he wasn’t exaggerating.

    I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when the race invited me to participate (thanks for the entry!) in Dances with Dirt and experience the trail race for myself. She had me at Bells Brewery post-race party.

    Dances with Dirt belongs to a race series that started 25 years ago in Hell, Mich. Since then, it has expanded to Indiana, Florida and my home state, Wisconsin. Quaff ON! Brewing sponsors the Green Swamp and Gnaw Bone races. Last year, Bell’s sponsored the post-race party in Hell, and this year traveled along to the other side of Lake Michigan.

    “We love coming to Wisconsin, the people are great, so TOUGH!” Mandy Hetfield from the event staff told me. “It’s a very hilly course including a trip up the bluffs, but yet, no one ever complains about it. It’s just another day in the life of running for them up there!”

    The race starts at the Devil’s Head ski resort in Merrimac, Wisconsin, and runs up to the bluffs of Devil’s Lake in Baraboo — one of my favorite hiking spots — with routes from 10K all the way to 50 mile. Originally I was going to try for the 50K and I signed up for that distance.

    Then I read some of the brutal race reports, which included running up and down double black diamond ski hills. My training has been decent this summer, but I wasn’t ready for that level of challenge. I hope I didn’t diminish the reputation of Wisconsin runners in Mandy’s mind. I emailed her in a panic at the last minute this week asking to switch to the half marathon.

    Thank God I did, because I’m not sure I could have made it another step past the finish. According to Runkeeper, this was the most elevation I’ve gained in a single run, with more than 1,700 feet. The bluffs are no joke.

    Some 200 people camp out at the start and finish, but I woke up at 4:30 in the morning to make the 2-hour drive from Milwaukee. I joined about 1,400 people total in all the races.

    The terrain included technical and rocky single-track trail, which slowed me down to nearly a 10-minute mile at one section. Most of the effort took place on backcountry paths, but near the middle of the route you’re rewarded with a spectacular overlook view of Devil’s Lake.

    It’s also worth noting that this was one of the friendliest and chattiest racing fields I’ve been a part of. Everyone was in a good mood, even the guy I tripped over and fell on in the second mile. There’s something about spending a long time in the woods that develops an esprit de corps.

    I spent a long time running with a pack of high school cross country teammates, and the old people like myself that tried to keep up. That made some of my middle miles the fastest, when I normally would have lost focus and slowed down in a race.

    I finished in 1:47, more than 20 minutes slower than my half marathon PR, but good for second place in my age group. There are few races of any distance where I’ve expended more effort.
    We were well compensated for the effort. Bells set up its beer garden trailer next to the finish line, where Oberon, Lager of the Lakes, Amber Ale and Two Hearted Pale Ale flowed. The party continued later on with more Bells at local pub The Barn.

    The race medal also doubled as a beer bottle opener. This will be the first race medal I plan on keeping.

    Afterward, I grabbed a Two Hearted and hamburger from The Barn and did my best to recover before my 2-hour drive back to Milwaukee.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    Profile photo of Aaron Shaw
    shawa2007 FIRST-TIMER '17

    Beautiful trial run at Devil's Lake State Park. Race starts with a significant climb up to an overlook of Devil's Lake. Utilizes a number of single track and horse trails. MORE

    Beautiful trial run at Devil’s Lake State Park. Race starts with a significant climb up to an overlook of Devil’s Lake. Utilizes a number of single track and horse trails.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    KatieD FIRST-TIMER '17

    This is a well-organized race in a beautiful location. Devil's Lake is one of the crown jewels of the Wisconsin State park system, known for the lake that is between … MORE

    This is a well-organized race in a beautiful location. Devil’s Lake is one of the crown jewels of the Wisconsin State park system, known for the lake that is between two rocky bluffs. The half marathon takes you up one of the bluffs. A lot of the elevation is within that climb in about mile 5. There is a lot of variation in the trails on the course; from wide, grassy trails to rocky/rooty trails to paved portions through the campground. The course was well marked.

    The only thing I should have been aware of is that the first water station is not until about the middle of mile 4. I did not carry water. The weather wasn’t too bad when I ran the race, it could be much more hot and humid in early July.

    Race swag included a tech tee, finisher medal, beer, snacks at the finish, and a brat or hamburger meal. There was also another post race party at 2:15 as the longer distances were finishing but I did not return for that. Race photos are available for purchase.

    Details of the campsites and further details of the race can be found in my race report. Overall, a fun race that I would do again.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    2tallfritz FIRST-TIMER '14

    LOVED this race! Beyond difficult but the views and amazing course made up for the difficulty 10x over. This was definitely a race that we limped away from with tired … MORE

    LOVED this race! Beyond difficult but the views and amazing course made up for the difficulty 10x over. This was definitely a race that we limped away from with tired & sore muscles. And when we got in the car, we had nothing but praise for the event, course and organization. I’m pretty sure this will stand as my Personal Worst (PW) marathon time for years to come but I’m so proud of that PW!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

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  1. Races
  2. Dances With Dirt Devil's Lake