And we’re back! What a weekend of fun we had at The North Face Endurance Challenge Wisconsin 2014, more colloquially known as ECSWI. Friday we picked up the RV and headed over to the campground at Ottawa Lake Recreation Area, a beautiful location for this weekend of trail races. While we love tent camping, there are definite advantages to the RV: heat or AC, a fan for white noise, an actual (sort-of) kitchen, and beds rather than cots or sleeping pads. If only it weren’t so expensive compared to tent camping – still, it’s a nice treat once a year or so and the perfect way to spend this particular weekend.
Saturday was all about Laima’s marathon. After sending her off, we got in the car and started driving to intercept points to cheer her on – I think we managed to get to 9 locations to see her. It was fun for the kids especially, as the runners (who we mostly saw all 9 times) were very appreciative of the cheering. We even got to see Dean Karnazes several times – later, after the kids race, I took a picture of him and Munchkin, which was a lot of fun for him. That evening we attended a hibernating animal nature talk that was the exact same one we attended 2 years ago (must be that time of year). That night, headed for a late toothbrushing session, the kids were fighting over the flashlight. On the way back to the RV, I managed to convince them to turn it off and check out the countless stars visible. The Big Dipper was even framed perfectly above some trees, making it an easy intro to constellations. We definitely do not see stars like that in Downers Grove.
Sunday Tazer, Gaigai and I lined up and then headed out on the 5K course – I had warned them that, while the road portion wouldn’t be that difficult, the trail part would be. We ran together for a little while before Tazer took off to chase a front-running boy ( Tazer ended up winning 3rd in the 19 and Under age group, not too shabby for his first trail race). Gaigai pulled me along, rabbiting the first 2 miles before a balky thigh muscle slowed us down (thankfully) – on the way back we walked some and ran some, both eventually finishing 4th in our respective age groups (disclaimer – I was 4th of 4), a nice finish for her in her first trail race as well. We spent the rest of the morning enjoying some beers from Sierra Nevada (Laima and me), face painting and hot cocoa (the kids). Kind of sad to see the finish line festival empty out, but it was also very cool to have the campground to ourselves. Sunday night, out of the hundreds of available campsites, it seemed like less than 10 were occupied.
Not sure about the other locations, but the The North Face Endurance Challenge Wisconsin is really perfect as an active family getaway. Camping, trail running, exploring nature – this weekend really has it all, in a somewhat formatted manner, with plenty of downtime to do what you want as well. The fact that there are so many options for distance, along with a kids’ race and really means that literally the whole family can actively participate. Kudos to The North Face for their stellar planning and execution.
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