"I recently had the opportunity to participate in the 4th annual NSS TRAIN and STAY weekend near Duluth, MN.  It was a 3 day/2 night all-inclusive weekend of trail running.  I was fortunate to share this experience with 5 other hardcore women along with Mike Hawes, personal trainer/ultra runner/chef/weekend coordinator. 

 

Packing for the weekend, I found myself a bit nervous.  I was a 'newb' as well as the oldest member of the group.  I was confident I could handle the miles, but the unknowns of the terrain, routes, and how my body would respond, weighed on my mind.  I can’t recall the last weekend getaway where my entire bag was packed with workout clothes and stretchy pants. 

 

We arrived at our destination on Friday afternoon: a charming cabin tucked in the north woods just outside of Barnum, MN.  Over the course of the 3 days, we covered just over 25 miles of trails.  Each of the four individual runs was unique.  Our first piece of trail on Friday afternoon consisted of an evening singletrack run along the beautiful St Louis River.  By 7:15 am Saturday morning, we were scaling rocky outcrops to the top of Ely’s Peak to catch the sunrise, before continuing on into the woods of the Superior Hiking Trail.

 

After an ice bath in the rather cool lake by our accommodations and a needed nap, we enjoyed a more relaxed afternoon run on the flat, pine-needle laden trails of Moose Lake State Park.  The weekend finished strong on Sunday morning with the wicked ascents and descents of the 'Power Lines' back on the Superior Hiking Trail. 

 

The trails were more technical than I anticipated.  I felt both the physical and mental fatigue as each step was calculated to avoid injury.  Other than filthy shoes, wet socks and a few scratches, I somehow finished that final run on Sunday unscathed.

 

Stories and pictures do not do justice to the beauty, challenge, and sense of accomplishment I had on this weekend.  Running on gorgeous trails hidden within the woods of the north shore was an absolute blast. Laughs were had, expletives were dropped, new friends were made, trails were conquered. 

 

Thank you, Mike, for offering this experience, opening your family cabin to us and guiding us through trails I never knew existed.  This weekend reignited a spark and the personal competitive edge I needed to get back on track.  So what’s next?  If the schedule allows, I will  attend the 5th annual Noonan's TRAIN and STAY weekend and, maybe, the 2015 Wild Duluth 50K is the next beast I will challenge.  You should join me!" 

 

Ali C. 

Ali on a 8.5 mile TRAIN and STAY run

(in green on the right).