Eisenbahn Marathon 8/28/2010

We nixed our planned excursion to Beaver Island when a crucial member of the travel squad succumbed to injury a month or so ago.  That ended up being a very good call as Beaver Island caught the fringe of hurricane Earl.  Apparently the runners dealt with 50 mph winds (with “sand and rain pelting bodies” in the words of the race director in an email that went out post-race).  No thank you!!  After a brief scramble to find a race either the week before or week after Beaver Island we settled on Eisenbahn in West Bend, WI. 

Eisenbahn is German for “railroad” aptly named due to the fact that the course is on a converted railbed.

In the days leading up to the race I surprised myself by how little I knew about it.  The course, the weather, aid station spacing…all of the things I would normally study and/or strategize about were a mystery to me.  I didn’t know until the Tuesday before the race that 20 of the 26.2 miles were on crushed limestone!  It wasn’t until I got to Wisconsin that I found out that it was a first year race.

I made a conscious decision to run this race as a training run for St. George (which is on October 2nd).  With that in mind, I decided to set out at a comfortable pace and hoped that it would lead to a sub 4.

A month or so back we had a newcomer, Mike, join the ship.  During a workout someone asked Al what his next marathon was.  When he said Eisenbahn, Mike chimed in that he grew up nearby…and then made an offer I’m sure he’ll regret for the next couple of years.  He alleged that his parents would love to host us (and by us I mean Al, Sandy, POJ, Linda, Frank, Shelley, and I) for spaghetti dinner on the Friday night before the race.  Never ones to pass up a free meal we immediately took him up on the offer.  On Friday evening we showed up at their beautiful home and were greeted with a fabulous spread of water, gatorade, spaghetti, salad, bread, and dessert!  Mike’s mom mentioned that we needed to bring up a few chairs from the basement so, being that I have only seen one or two basements, I volunteered.  What luck!!  As I made my way into the storage area of the basement I glanced over my shoulder thinking that someone was down there with me.  Well, there was and there wasn’t.  Over in the corner staring back at me was a life-sized, cardboard cut-out of Mike running the 800 meters his freshman year in high school!  Now, I know my mom loves me…but she doesn’t have any 6 foot tall cardboard “Jeffs” crushing fools on the football field from the old days.  After getting over the initial shock of how much more Mike’s mom loves him than mine loves me, I scooped up cardboard Mike and a few chairs and made my way back upstairs.  Needless to say, cardboard Mike was a huge hit with the rest of the ship.  We posed for many pictures with him but stopped short of setting him a place at the table!

Saturday morning came early.  The race started at 6 am.  The course was a point-to-point from the town of Eden back to West Bend so it required an almost 26.2 mile bus ride to the start.  We had driven to Eden the day before so we knew how to get there…unfortunately, the bus driver didn’t!  After a few gentle corrections from the backseat we got her on track and arrived with about 25 minutes to loosen up.

The race started and we took off down the trail.  After about 50 meters or so I realized I didn’t turn my watch on so I fumbled around to get it going.  I elected to go back to the garmin for this race as I wasn’t sure that it would be well marked due to fact that it was on a trail that didn’t allow vehicular traffic.  That fear proved unfounded as the course was marked every mile (and pretty darn accurate to boot).

1 0:08:37
2 0:08:31
3 0:08:30
4 0:08:44
5 0:08:30
6 0:08:43
7 0:08:38
8 0:08:38
9 0:08:52
10 0:08:41
11 0:08:38
12 0:08:40
13 0:08:29
14 0:08:46
15 0:08:47
16 0:09:04
17 0:09:21
18 0:09:11
19 0:09:36
20 0:09:54
21 0:09:40
22 0:09:46
23 0:10:14
24 0:10:13
25 0:10:11
26 0:10:00
0.2 0:02:25

You should be able to get all the Garmin related data here.

The course was supposed to be flat to downhill.  That was pretty much the case with the exception of some pretty hairy climbs at mile 5/6 and again at mile 12/13.  These were the only sections where you got off the trail and ran on rural roads.  As the course approached West Bend the crushed limestone gave way to asphalt to let you know you were almost done.  I knew after mile 25 that I would need to pick it up a little to clip 4 hours.  It also dawned on me that I did not start my watch right away at the start and I had no idea how many seconds my watch was behind my chip time.  The race clock said 4:00:11 when I crossed.  My chip time was 3:59:53.

My streak of sub 4 hour marathons in 2010 is alive and well!  My total marathon count now stands at 18 (in 9 states).

We departed West Bend shortly after the race and headed back to Milwaukee.  We figured spending the night there was a better plan for early morning flights on Sunday.  It also gave us the opportunity to visit Rock Bottom Brewery on the Milwaukee River for some post-race recovery.  I started with a Whitetail Ale and quickly graduated to the Whitetail Ale spiked with jalapeno before returning to the Whitetail Ale.  That evening we went to Miller Park to watch the Brewers play the Pirates, the Brewers won in extra innings (none of which we saw due to the fact that we left after 7).

You’d have never known Eisenbahn was a first year race by the organization and execution, nearly flawless!  It’s obvious these folks have put on races, if not marathons, before.  Packet pick-up was a breeze, bus transportation was sufficient, the course was well marked, the water stops (every two miles) were well stocked (with water/gatorade/ice) and well manned.  The weather was acceptable (low 60s at the start with humidity about the same). 

Next up is St. George on October 2nd.


One Response to “Eisenbahn Marathon 8/28/2010”

  1. Tunnel Marathon – 7/24/2011 « Says:

    […] tunnel?” you may ask.  Excellent question!  This race is on an old converted railbed (a la Eisenbahn) just east of Seattle.  The race starts normally enough but after 3/4 of a mile you enter a tunnel […]

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