Chippewa Ultra 2011 Winner’s Original Art: Advanced Secret Preview

It helps when the founding Race Director not only teaches art but also creates it, and when I say “creates,” I mean really creates. Wynn Davis of River Falls, WI, might join the burgeoning road, trail, and snowshoe group competing out of Duluth  — If they’re lucky. Or, maybe he’ll stick closer to the mountains in and around the St. Croix, hopefully on the Minnesota side, so he’ll help with the taxing life around here. Stillwater has a strong arts influence, too. No matter where he resides, Wynn is an artful wizard. Stay tuned. See these four examples:

Now, not only are these awards worthy of any winner’s accomplishment, as original art they have the opportunity to be far more valuable as Wynn’s statue in the creative world gets proper notice.

Take a look at the Overall Men’s Champion plaque to be won in April 2011 (see first photo). Inside the innards of Mr. Perch-the-fish are flashlight blubs, springs, and wire, not the normal red stuff and guts. No matter how hard I train, I could not win this, that is unless I did my turnaround in the 50 km at about the second aid station (call it seven miles) instead of the halfway mark; even then my finishing in front of the speedy leaders could be suspect. Nevertheless . . . I do have it displayed in my office . . . and the winner may just have to come and find it.

Same with the women’s overall award (see photo left). This character, handsome as can be, is posed next to an Andy Warhol print because the character maybe thinks that is his destiny, becoming as iconic as Warhol’s dollar sign. The facial expression does resemble some of the zombie looks one sees on those overnight ultras — or an IRS meeting.

Wynn developed a “Glacial Race Winner” which in my case, since I ‘earned’ it in the inaugural 2008 Chippewa race, was related to the weather — more glacial-like than even the glacial pace I maintained. For those who havn’t heard the legend, there was a blizzard that day and not the kind served in a cup. Otherwise, a competitor wins the Glacial for setting the last place pace, quite an honor if you ask. You try it sometime; it takes a looong time. There is something about the image of a nail in the skull (top of plaque in photo) saying a lot about trail runners.

A surprise snowfall had trail runners racing in deep, wet snow in 2008, definitely a surprise. Therefore, I used snowshoes to cover the distance. I recall distinctly why I finished the event — perhaps a lesson for all going forward; it was for me. I finished because all of the possible late aid stations where I could have, would have dropped, quit, been done with — were closed. I was left with no choice but to finish. It was the only practical way to the finish line.

Wynn as a former Board member of the Upper Midwest Trail Runners was roped into creating an award for the age group winners, among other awards, for the Minnesota Trail Series (photo left). He took the logo, created an impressive backdrop, and provided an overlay so the runner appears on top of the piece versus ‘on it.’ Presto, those lucky enough to receive one truly earned a prize.

“Racers can expect a superb trail that passes along kettle lakes, native wildlife, and the rest of the great scenery found along the Ice Age Trail,” writes Vacation Sports, the event organizer. They will present the awards after the 50 km race (there is a companion 10 km event, too) on April 9, 2011. If they can find my office before then . . . .

Upper Midwest Trail Runners:

Chippewa Moraine Ultra Marathon: A Run for the Ages:

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Article on the ‘snowshoe day’ at the inaugural 2008 race:

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About the author

Phillip Gary Smith

Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition, including drag racing, his favorite motorsport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING: Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra-distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING: Keys" in a unique way. Currently, he has two books in the works.
Write to him at, or find him on Twitter or Facebook @iHarmonizing.