Overall Rating
Overall Rating (4 Reviews)
4.8
(4 Ratings)(4 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.5
SCENERY
4.8
PRODUCTION
5
SWAG
3.8
Held on the second Saturday each May in Wisconsin’s Southern Kettle Moraine Forest, the Ice Age Trail 50 is located about one hour southwest of Milwaukee, one hour southeast of Madison and 1.5-2 hours northwest of Chicago. The 50-mile and 50K courses follow the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, taking … MORE
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    BOTTOM LINE: If you’re a runner looking to make the leap to the 50-mile distance, do yourself a favor and check out the Ice Age Trail 50. It’s the perfect … MORE

    BOTTOM LINE: If you’re a runner looking to make the leap to the 50-mile distance, do yourself a favor and check out the Ice Age Trail 50. It’s the perfect course for 50-mile newbies, a reasonably challenging hybrid of runnable flats and hikable hills. Well-groomed dirt and grass trails make up the bulk of the terrain, which isn’t particularly technical despite numerous rocky ascents & descents (gaiters will help keep those rocks out of your shoes). And speaking of ascents, there are a few relatively steep hills but nothing monstrous, so if you strengthen your core muscles and shore up your power-hiking skills during training, you should be fine.

    Kettle Moraine State Forest is a gorgeous venue for the race, particularly in mid-May when spring has sprung and when heat & humidity are less likely to be a factor. If you’re lucky, you may even get the perfectly cool temperatures we got, and two awesome running buddies to join you. I can even recommend the Lake Lawn Resort in nearby Delavan, an easy 25-30 min car ride from the start line, if you’re looking for convenient non-camping accommodations.

    The only downside to Ice Age is the two-way traffic on the out-and-backs, though this only became a problem with a handful of runners who­—for whatever reason—came barreling down the center of the trail refusing to yield the right-of-way. This could have resulted in some nasty collisions had the rest of us not been hypervigilant and quick to step aside. As with any event, though, it’s tough to police assholery.

    PRODUCTION: Race-day production was top-notch. Despite being one of the largest 50-milers in the country, Ice Age reminded me why I miss low-key trail races. The course was clearly marked with yellow (50M) and/or orange (50K) flags at every turn, aid stations were well-stocked and well-spaced (the longest interval between stations was 5.1 miles, and that was at mile 9), and without exception the volunteers were nothing short of brilliant. After all, these folks were selflessly sacrificing an entire day of their lives so the rest of us could work through personal issues run an absurdly long way. I introduced myself to Race Director Jeff Mallach after the race, and he seemed genuinely surprised and appreciative that we’d made the trip from California just to run his race.

    The only potential issue—and one I never encountered personally—was a shortage of medical personnel & supplies on the course, e.g. when one of our crew drove a fellow who’d sustained a bloody gash beside his eye back to the start/finish area for medical attention.

    SWAG: How to argue with my first-ever ultra buckle? The Ice Age buckle with its woolly mammoth logo is one good-looking piece of hardware. Credit to RD Jeff Mallach for not subscribing to the “Bigger is better” mentality—as with other things, garishly large medals smack of a race trying to make up for something. And though the long-sleeve tech tee may be a bit bright, its lime green color will go a long way toward making me visible to oncoming traffic on my training runs.

    For a complete race-day narrative, check out my race report at https://blisterscrampsheaves.com/2016/05/25/ice-age-trail-50-race-report/

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

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    Dan Solera FIRST-TIMER '16

    This is not a fast 50-miler, as it provides a relentless series of hills. But the woods of the Kettle Moraine State Forest will provide enough variety of terrain and … MORE

    This is not a fast 50-miler, as it provides a relentless series of hills. But the woods of the Kettle Moraine State Forest will provide enough variety of terrain and scenery to keep any runner entertained and inspired. The organization is top notch, with plenty of aid stations and volunteers to deliver a world-class trail event. The race is divided into three sections: the Nordic Loop (9.5 miles), which starts and ends at the finish; an out-and-back to Rice Lake (about 20.5 miles); and an out-and-back to the Emma Carlin aid station (about 20 miles). The first and last sections have the most elevation change, with plenty of runnable stretches to keep an honest pace. Held in mid-May in Wisconsin, the weather can be cool or warm, so be prepared for anything. If you’re interested in running any of the distances (which include a 50k and a half marathon), be ready to sign up the minute registration opens, as this race routinely sells out in hours. As a 50k and 50-mile finisher, I can’t recommend this event enough.

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

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    Otter FIRST-TIMER '13

    I ran the Ice Age 50K in 2013 as my first ultra, then came back in 2014 to run the half-marathon, and I'm registered for the 50-miler in 2015 -- … MORE

    I ran the Ice Age 50K in 2013 as my first ultra, then came back in 2014 to run the half-marathon, and I’m registered for the 50-miler in 2015 — I keep coming back for a reason, this is a great race. Here are some things to know about the course and the organization

    THE COURSE
    –All distances start and finish at the Nordic Trail Head in Kettle Moraine State Forest near La Grane, WI, which is also the start/finish for the Kettle Moraine 100 races held each June. The Ice Age races are always held in May, when the forest really comes into bloom. The scenery is gorgeous
    –The course is popularly described as “death by 1,000 knife cuts” — it’s definitely a runnable course, but there are some steep rollers during the out-and-back to Horseriders as well as the Nordic Loop, where the majority of runners will be forced to do a fair bit of power-hiking.
    –As in most Midwest ultramarathons, the aid stations are relatively plentiful, coming every 3-5 miles….you can definitely get away with running with just a water bottle. The specific food offerings vary at east aid station (I remember one aid station grilling up bratwurst!), but at minimum each aid station will have a bunch of salty & starchy foods like chips, pretzels, potatoes, PB&J sandwiches, as well as sweets like gummy bears & M&Ms. Lots of beverage choices to choose from as well, ranging from ice water to Coke, gatorade, ginger ale, or Mountain Dew.
    –Most of the course offers good shade, but there are stretches of open field as well; you’ll want to be wearing some sort of sun protection
    –There is space for drop bags at the Start/Finish, which the 50k course loops through twice during the course of the race. For those running the 50K, the furthest you’ll have to run before coming through the start/finish is 13 miles.
    –The course is 99% trails, with the exception of a few road crossings that are manned by police or volunteers. Some of the course is single track, while some of it is double-wide jeep trails….it’s a pretty good mix.
    –Overall, the course is challenging, but accessible. The sharp uphills are steep but short, and the majority of the course is runnable

    ORGANIZATION:
    –There is a registration cap for each race, and it usually reaches capacity the day that registration opens. If you want to run this race, you best be ready to sign up early!
    –Race-day packet pickup on the morning of the race is a breeze, and only takes a second or two. There’s no need to race to Eagle, WI to pick up your packet the night before.
    –There’s ample parking, but the race is large enough that if you don’t arrive early, you’ll have to park somewhat far away. I’d recommend showing up early, and carpool if you can!

    POST-RACE FESTIVITIES:
    –In true Wisconsin fashion, there is a generous post-race spread for all runners. You’ll have your pick of burgers, brats, potato salad, hot dogs, cookies, etc. to choose from. Non-runners can purchase a meal ticket, since the closest restaurants are a bit of a drive away.
    –There is essentially unlimited free beer after the race; each year, the RDs arrange for at least a few kegs of Lakefront Brewery beer to be trucked in.
    –Overall, it’s a very fun, festive party atmosphere, where a LOT of people hang around until at least 6pm to see the last of the 50-mile finishers cross the line….I’d definitely recommend hanging around.

    SWAG;
    –Very nice long-sleeve tech tshirts for all participants, unique for each distance
    –Half-marathon and 50K finishers received keychains in 2013 & 2014, rather than medals. 50-mile finishers receive belt buckles each year.

    FINAL THOUGHTS — if you can register early enough, run this race!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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    dansolera FIRST-TIMER '13

    This was my first ultramarathon and I'm thrilled to have run it in the woods of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. The race consists of a 13-mile out and back, … MORE

    This was my first ultramarathon and I’m thrilled to have run it in the woods of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. The race consists of a 13-mile out and back, followed by two 9-mile loops around the Cross Country course. The first segment is varied and technical, while the two loops are a little more open but contain the majority of the race’s elevation change. Held in early May, you can bet on beautiful, verdant forests, mostly dry trails and cool temperatures. The event boasts a half marathon and 50-mile distance as well.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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