Success! Devils Lake Dances with Dirt

On Friday the hubby and I loaded the limo van for the trek out to Devils Head Resort located in Merrimac, WI. This was the start line of the Dances with Dirt-Devil’s Lake race and also where we were to rest our weary heads for the next couple of nights.

I texted a friend who was already out there for a weather update so I would pack properly and received a friendly “it’s hot and humid, hope it rains.” I decided on trying out my Fusion singlet which was made out of some crazy amazing tech fabric and had vents throughout. I also grabbed my Altra hat in case it did rain to keep the rain out of my eyeballs. I searched and searched but for some reason couldn’t locate my Dirty Girl Gaiters which made me want to cry so those didn’t make the trip. Also along for the trip came the trusty Altra Lone Peak 1.5, some Tailwind, amphipod handheld and waist pack, s-caps, Fitsoks, Ms. Garmin and some cinnamon raison bagels for the morning.  I dug around and only found one clean pair of running shorts and those were tossed in last minute. They kinda matched which was good enough.

We made it to Devils Head Resort at about 8:15pm and stopped at packet pick-up to grab my shirt and bib. There were a lot of people camping at the start/finish area and the hubby ribbed me about not camping to which I just scowled and noted that we had a hotel room with a bed, flushable toilet, shower and A/C.  We hadn’t eaten dinner yet so we checked in and inquired about food. That’s when we were told about the pasta buffet that was priced at $18.50/ea. and ‘just down the hall’ and ending at 9pm (it was 8:30 at this point).

I wasn’t very interested in paying $37 for some potentially cold (or bad) pasta so we found the bar and ordered a pizza instead ($22). We then headed outside to eat it on their patio area near the fire.

It wasn’t good. The pizza wasn’t good. Well, maybe you would love this pizza…if you like pizza that tastes like sugar then you would like this pizza. We didn’t. We tried to give it away to the couple sitting near us and couldn’t offload our sweet pizza and so guiltily dumped it in the trash and trudged our hungry tummies up to the room to nosh on the few snacks we had brought along before falling asleep.

The room was decent. I don’t have a picture but it kinda reminded me a of a dorm room. It was at least clean. I fell asleep and soon enough it was time to get up and eat my bagels before the race.

YAY RACE MORNING! I was finally…after being in injury pit…going to run in a trail race! YES.

I wish I could explain how excited I was to be at the starting line of DWD! The anticipation of taking off onto the trail with a hoard of other people excited to take off onto a trail…ah, sweetness.



just before the start!

just before the start!


Here’s GO TIME!

start of race

Start line-!


Ready set GO!!

The race? This course was hard. I felt really out of shape but couldn’t help but think throughout—WOW! I’m RUNNING! Once and awhile I would look around and think “PRETTY!” and then crash…onto my butt or my knees. Oops. I fell a lot due to being distracted by all the cool stuff to look at.

The hills felt brutal to me, but I didn’t walk much. Maybe that’s why they felt brutal. If I was doing the 50K perhaps I would have walked on the uphill’s a bit more, but even on the 2mile stretch that went up, I only merely slowed a bit rather than walked. I couldn’t justify actually walking if I was only going a half marathon in my own head. I know that sounds dumb. In reality though, I felt really proud that I was able to run those hills even if the ‘run’ was incredibly slow and labored.

For some reason I convinced myself going into the race that after the 2 mile up, there were no more hills so imagine my surprise when the WORST uphill came well after that 2 mile uphill. As in a steep never-ending up. I was running happily along on a gravel two way trail and then there was a turn to the right onto single track that went steeply uphill…and felt like it would never, ever end. It just went on forever. I knew that this was the end of me and I was only a touch over 6 miles in. My chest was going to explode—I knew it. All over the trail. Boom!

Suddenly, I reached the top and it curved around and I was in awe. The view was AMAZING. As in I had to slow to a turtle trot and just LOOK. I then slowed to a walk so I wouldn’t fall off the edge of the cliff looking and just stared. It was beautiful and I wished I had my camera. I knew I had to come back and bring the hubby. I jogged on and there was an aid station on a rock overhanging the bluff. SO GORGEOUS! I stayed for about 5 minutes just staring out and drinking water and then I knew I had to move on. I made a note to hike back up with hubby so I could enjoy this.

Mile 9 something aid station. On the way back. Hubby was there cheering!

Mile 9 something aid station. On the way back. Hubby was there cheering!

mile 9

Mile 9 something, about to cross the road and head back into the single track- Hubby asked “How are you doing?” I answered “Hot, but AWESOME!”

The rest of the race was just in happy mode, seriously, that climb to that view just put me at ease with the world. The downhill crept on me suddenly and I was still in that whoa euphoria so I decided to go ahead and blast down it because YAY RUNNING! About ¾ mile in I slid on a moss covered rock that I thus far had done great at dodging and slid for a bit on my bum. I’m pretty sure I left a piece of my butt on the trail.

I slowed a bit after the butt slide but kept going. A bit later I took a forward dive and rolled sideways banging my hip. I laughed and continued on. Soon enough there was a guy jumping up and down yelling that I was only 260 yards from the finish. I grinned and ran. Turning the corner I could see the finish line.

Soon my hubby came into view yelling! YAY! And then I was done. I had done it. I felt like I was back. Finally, I really feel like I’m running again. There is something truly special about a hard trail race.


Nearing the finish!

Nearing the finish!

getting so close!

getting so close!

about to cross the finish line!!

about to cross the finish line!!

Done! I did it!

Done! I did it!

From sliding down the hill on my bum!

From sliding down the hill on my bum!

obligatory Garmin data

obligatory Garmin data

After DWD, I had a burger, fruit and a bit of Bells (both thanks to the bib tags- thanks DWD! Awesome!) went to the hotel and took a shower and then returned to try to catch friend, Mark Martinsen at the finish of the 50K. He suddenly crept up behind me and said “WHO YOU LOOKIN FOR?” Ha! He had finished already and won 2nd in his age bracket! Congrats Mark!

With Mark! 2nd place AG 50K! Congrats Mark, you're amazing!

With Mark! 2nd place AG 50K! Congrats Mark, you’re amazing!

I did end up taking the hubby to the gorgeous view. We had a fantastic time hiking the day after DWD in the Devils Head State Park. If you ever get a chance, I recommend you go! The rock that the aid station was on is by Balanced Rock and it is so amazing to see. There are so many trails to hike and run. Beautiful park!


starting out the hike to the bluff on Sunday morning!

les and sarah

Hubby and Me at the overlook by Balanced Rock!


Look at this VIEW!




Tell me this isn’t beautiful!


We ran on these rocks!

trail hiking

This is beyond beautiful.


the trail by balanced rock

All in all, this weekend was incredible and I’m so happy I didn’t drop out after my foot fail.




DWD Conquered.




4 thoughts on “Success! Devils Lake Dances with Dirt

  1. It looks so beautiful! It is the most awesome feeling to be running after a time-out. Go you!! Sounds like some epic wipe-outs. You handle them so well, that’s impressive.

  2. sounds like you had a great time! it was a lot of fun. i plan to go back next year… maybe do the marathon distance! devil’s lake state park is awesome for camping and hiking. we go a lot. such a beautiful place. great job!

  3. Nikki, hope to see you there. I’m planning on going back also! I’d like to do either the marathon distance or the 50K distance. Bug Pit sounds “interesting” and I was sad I couldn’t do it this year! SO PRETTY out there!

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