I stayed in a hotel in nearby Iron Mountain, Michigan, just across the state line from Florence, Wisconsin where the race was being held at a small ski hill on the outskirts of town. They were about 15 minute drive apart and I arrived early at the race start after not making it to packet pickup the night before and stumbled upon the early starters being briefed before their 6:20a start. The regular start was a 7am. I quickly asked the RD and then timers if I could start, and after tossing my sweatshirt in the car I started about 2 min behind the rest of the group. My rationale was that since I was doing the double, the sooner I finished, the sooner I would get home, get showered, could rest, etc.
I spent the first hour with an older gentleman from nearby Green Bay whom I would find out the next day had run over 800 marathons in his lifetime. We chatted as the trail, which was a dirt road, meandering through the woods, aid stations about every 4-5 miles apart. He was working on running all of the marathons in Wisconsin, which there have been several new ones start in the last few years. He was also running the double race weekend paired up with the inaugural Maritime Marathon in Manitowoc, WI.
The front runners ran past us and I began to pick up the pace. The hip was not too bad on the relatively even terrain and the temps were warm but being moderated but the surrounding trees and frequent shade. At mile 15, the 50k runners make a left turn and do a side loop of 5 miles to make their distance longer than the marathoners as they kept going straight. I misunderstood and thought that the 50k had a race cutoff of 6 hours, when it turned out that the marathon was 6 hour cutoff and the 50k was 7.5 hours. Needless to say, this kept me moving when I may have walked a few places.
At mile 22 there is a significant river crossing where the water is chest deep and they hung a rope across the river and hired local river guides to stand in the water to walk with people across. They also offered a swim across option, about 100 ft above the rope crossing where the water was over my head. I opted for that one for some reason and used the ziplock baggies they had to encase my electrolyte capsules holder. Due to the current I had to swim at a slight upriver angle, and got a little scared as I headed into the current in the middle. But I was out of the strongest part of the current pretty quick and to the shore in time. There was a lady with a big camera taking pictures, I just have not been able to find them with my Google-fu at this time.
The aid station was right after the crossing, and they had glorious cookies and pretzels. There had been water, heed (electrolyte drink known to make stomachs churn), and hammer gels, but not really any food until that point. What also didn't help is that due to my quick morning start I didn't eat a bar for breakfast. This also likely affected my energy levels.
The race finishes in dramatic fashion cresting the top of the ski hill and then zig zagging back and forth across it. Finishing essentially where you started with the small crowd watching people come down the hill before the finish. I got my car keys back from the timing lady that had offered to take my keys at the start when she saw I was going to run with them. "You run with your keys?!? Here give me those."