Up North: Runners Turn Up the Heat in 2nd Annual Winter Marathon

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: January 08, 2020 11:03 PM

A few winters ago Andy and Kim Holak went for a winter run. Packed snow on the trails made for perfect racing conditions. That's when the idea for the Northwoods Trail Marathon was born.


"The trails were so fun to run in the winter that we thought we should put on some races. During the winter so we decided to do a series of races in the winter when there aren't as many opportunities to race on trails," said Andy Holak, the organizer of the race.

Over 100 runners competed in this year's event. Starting at the Lester Park Amity Chalet, racers could run in either the 13.1 mile half-marathon or 26.2 mile full marathon. 

"We were just cruising. I was right behind Kyle Severson and we just kind of like went back and forth. Trails were really nice and just a great, great early morning run," said Benjamin Welch, the winner of the half-marathon men's division.

Some, like Welch, raced on foot. Others completed the race in snowshoes.

"You're carrying a lot more weight on your feet. So, roughly about three pounds per pair. Then you're got a little bit more drag with the snow, you know, kicking up and carrying on the snowshoe," said David Hyoppenen. Hyoppenen completed the half-marathon in snowshoes. 

Despite drag from the snow, Welch won the men's half-marathon with a time of 1:35. Hyoppenen, on his snowshoes, finished just five minutes later.

"I just like to hurt. I like to dip another tank. I like to sweat snowshoeing, it's a lot harder than road running," said Hyoppenen.

The race is not only harder to run, it's tougher to train for.

"You just have to make sure you know how to dress right. Layers are key so you can take [some] off once you start sweating," said Samantha Frey, a runner in the half-marathon.

When it's all said and done, Holak assured, the trails will be groomed back into good shape. So bikers, hikers and skiers can enjoy Lester Park for the rest of the winter.


Alicia Tipcke

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