What a perfect day for quick times and an entertaining race in the southern suburbs of the Twin Cities as cool temperatures and low clouds provided a perfect backdrop. The dirt trails are like the Superior Trails, way up north, except . . . there are no creeks running down the middle of them.
Of course it hadn’t rained heavily here, or at all for that matter, unlike the overnight storm that brought Superior, just a week and a day prior, lots of goop and trail creeks, but it was that difference that made the run so much fun: Here is a trail that lucked into good weather, is a short drive for the metro population, and can be completed in a relatively short time on a Sunday morning.
The trail is an approximate five miles so the ten milers get a chance to circumvent the loop twice.
Twisting, winding, in and out of trees, climbs, and downhills that cross short bridges are all part of the fun. This layout was the first time I have ever felt a course had more down hills than up, even though the finish and start were the same spot. I found it impossible to make a wrong turn if one followed the course markings.
The souvenir shirt for the Harmon Farms event was nicely stylized with no cluttering ads but including a nice “2010” date on the right sleeve at the wrist.
The ten-mile started promptly at 8:30 though some materials indicated a different time; the correct time was announced well before the 8:00 five-mile got underway, and most seemed okay.
Kelly Long took home the five-mile gold for the host city, Inver Grove Heights, in 37:30 about two minutes over Tara Orstad, Shakopee, the race’s first woman. Seconds later came Alexander Hill, Blaine, and then the second woman, Andrea Jensen. In this third year of this shorter race (the ten-mile is in its fourth), the times were off the race record set in 2008 by William Sikorski, White Bear Lake (“Go Bears,” as the movie line in “Fargo” exclaims), of 33:15.
The most exciting finishes in the distance was 14-year-old Kyler Smith finishing in 50:26 over Tim Smith, 50, two seconds later, followed by Jerrey Gould at 50:40.
Kirk Walztoni, Eagan, won the ten-mile distance with a time under one hour (59:00) but not as good as his 2009 win and course record at 58:08. No other competitors broke the hour mark this year (four did last year) but Tim Kersey, one of those four in 2009, took second. The 2007 winner, Tim is the most consistent runner at the top of the results for this race.
Kori Mortenson, Minneapolis, and Bradley Pederson, Belle Plaine, followed, then the first woman, Kim Rutt, Minneapolis, finished in 1:04:56, a new record for the Harmon Farms 10 Mile.
116 trail runners participated in the two events, slightly less than 2009, but these races, particularly the ten-mile, offer an exhilarating speed challenge on dirt just eight days after the Superior fall races. Some indicate the ten-mile may be a few tenths short on their GPS devices. Maybe it should be a five-mile and a 15 km.
These dirt trails are a good introduction to more challenging trails awaiting at, say, even the nearby Afton State Park. Developed and maintained by off-road bicyclists (MORC), the group made full advantage of the twists and turns possible in this 43-acre park.
The ten-mile is an event in the Upper Midwest Trail Runner’s Minnesota Trail Running Series covering events in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. The feeling is intimate, the race direction exact, special awards are available for IGH residents, and the volunteers are great examples of Minnesota Nice.
Race Website: http://www.ci.inver-grove-heights.mn.us/index.aspx?NID=339
To subscribe to free Snowshoe Magazine + Trails, go: http://www.snowshoemagazine.com/subscribe.cfm