The Wilderness Athlete Gnarly Bandit Ultra Trail Series begins in earnest as upper Midwest trails melt snow, seducing endurance athletes to complete the series selection of five of the countries gnarliest races. For 2012 a record 25 entrants have entered the nation’s Superior Series, five races spread like rays from the mother waters of Lake Superior seeking to share the $600 bounty placed in a special pot of gold held in secret by the Gnarly Bandit himself.
Wilderness Athlete Performance Products established the bounty enticing ultra trail runners with its cash reward split among all who finish each race, officially, thus completing the series. The Gnarly Bandit picked five downright dirty challenges for entrants to endure so if they finish and not fail as he hopes, each can stand tall at the Upper Midwest Trail Runner’s Awards Fest in November and receive their recognition due: a special award—2011 featured a one-of-a-kind work of art by John Storkamp of Rock Steady Racing—commemorating the finish along with the cash stash begrudgingly pulled out of Gnarly’s pocket.
Opening the Gnarly Bandit is an endurance test rising from the raging Zumbro River lowlands of Minnesota, the Zumbro Endurance Run. Zumbro will thin ranks as trailites attempt to cover the bluff country’s 100 miles in a six-loop layout while enjoying “wild, rugged, beautiful” scenery.
The Kettle Moraine’s 17th edition of its 100 mile/100 Km Wisconsin-in-June test, will challenge the remaining Gnarlies with Ice Age dominant single-track trails that eat quads with rolling, switchback terrain—watch for the infamous “Confusion Point.”
Centering the Gnarly Bandit is a trip to the storied Black Hills of South Dakota for the surprisingly hard Black Hills 100 Mile/100 Km. Now in its third year, this event with elevation gains even more than Leadville’s legend altitude challenge keeps punishing Gnarly Bandits, which of course they love . . . at least after collecting their finishing buckle.
One of the country’s top ten ultras, the Sawtooth 100, the grandfather of tough, slams home the meaning of “Rugged, Relentless, Remote.”
With vista views of Lake Superior enticing racers as they steadily make way up the Superior Hiking Trails, the constant climbs eat at tenacity, turning an endurance athlete’s hard resolution to moist paste. Crossing over the fury of the Poplar River, just one-half mile from the glorious finish, is a salute to those completing this monster.
For those surviving thus far, the last hurtle to gain a share of the Wilderness Athlete bounty is the Wild Duluth 100 Km.
Sharing the Superior Hiking Trails southern end, many feel a kilometer here feels like a mile elsewhere as steep, long-wooded climbs obscure the enjoyment of fall’s most beautiful views over the port cities of Duluth/Superior.
Wilderness Athletes Performance Products are designed for endurance events exactly like those comprising the Gnarly Bandit Ultra Series. To use their Energy and Focus, an Olympic-class fuel, mixed in water with Hydrate and Recover replenish the tortured physical self. Their magic is an edge for ultra runners developed decades ago by Coach Mark Paulsen. He asked, “Why hasn’t the science of mainstream sports nutrition been applied to the specific needs of the outdoor athlete? After all, there are no locker rooms or time-out in the backcountry,” particularly during ultra distance trail or snow races.
The Superman powders of E&F and H&R blended in water fights off futility, fatigue, and failure like the super hero fought off Kryptonite.
The Gnarly Bandit is the veteran of trail series in the portfolio of the Upper Midwest Trail Runners. In 2011, only one of the 17 entrants finished the entire series. In 2012, the current entrants have the promise of multiple winners and the first woman to complete this unworldly feat. Go join UMTR here and toe-the-line of the country’s gnarliest adventure, Wilderness Athlete’s Gnarly Bandit Ultra Trail Series.
Special reports on each event will be written by Adventure racer, Molly Cochran. Noted photographer, Bryan Cochran, will provide images of select events.
E-mail series servant and Gnarly’s personal attendant with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org