Saturday, September 23, 2023

Michele Hartwig and Ornery Mule Racing – iRunFar


[Author’s Note: This is the fifth of a 10-part series in AJW’s Taproom called Race Director Chronicles, where we profile the unsung heroes who make our sport’s racing possible.]

Michele Hartwig is likely one of the toughest operating race administrators within the nation. As the landlord of Ornery Mule Racing, Michele directs over a dozen races together with 3 marquee U.S. Midwest 100 milers, the Kettle Moraine 100 Mile, Midwest States 100 Mile, and Hennepin 100 Mile.

Veteran ultrarunner Chris Worden notes: “At the trails Michele brings a degree of enthusiasm you’ll’t lend a hand however recognize. Whether or not I see her directing a 100 miler or working a path race herself, she all the time appears to be smiling. I ran my first Ornery Mule Racing tournament remaining 12 months and briefly noticed why their occasions have develop into one of the most most well liked within the Midwest. She places her middle and soul into the entirety she does.”

I latterly stuck up with Michele after her whirlwind weekend directing the 2023 Midwest States 100 Mile and requested her some questions.

Michele Hartwig - finish Midwest States 100 Mile

Race director Michele Hartwig on the end of the Midwest States 100 Mile. All footage courtesy of Michele Hartwig.

Andy Jones-Wilkins: How lengthy have you ever been directing ultrarunning occasions within the U.S. Midwest?

Michele Hartwig: The 12 months 2011 was once after I made up our minds to place on my first ultrarunning tournament — Earth Day 50k in my homeland of Crystal Lake, Illinois. I spent a 12 months operating on race-day plans and dealing with the park to get the race allow. The primary 12 months of the race was once 2012. The race direction is at the trails I teach on day-to-day.

AJW: What’s the maximum pleasurable facet of your paintings as a race director?

Hartwig: There are such a lot of issues I experience about race directing. Those races all began as a result of I sought after to ask other folks to run trails that I love to run on, competing in a method of racing that I experience. From singletrack woodland, to flat and speedy ultras, and timed occasions. I really like every of those types of racing and I’m captivated with making a secure, a laugh alternative for the working group. It makes me so glad to look new other folks fall in love with path working, and be informed they’re able to issues they will have by no means dreamed of doing.

Ornery Mule Racing’s venture remark is: “Kindness, group, and odd other folks doing strange issues.” I wrote this down as my objective a few years. This is a venture that our group in reality connects with. There’s something truly particular about path runners and ultrarunners and this sums up this group from all over the international.

AJW: What makes working within the U.S. Midwest so distinctive and particular?

Hartwig: I’m a traveler, each and every go back and forth I am going on contains path working. Once I come again to the Midwest, I’m all the time reminded of why I really like Midwest trails. I benefit from the wealthy filth singletrack trails, rolling hills, miles of thick woodland with a lot of timber to stunning open meadows stuffed with wildflowers.

Working within the Midwest, we get to experience 4 seasons. I will run the similar trails each day of the 12 months and stay up for the vegetation and local weather converting during the seasons. Iciness has numerous wonderful days at the snow-covered trails that make the chilly price it. As soon as you’re within the woodland, it takes the edge out of the elements.

I really like visiting trails around the globe, however my middle is with Midwest path working.

Michele Hartwig - trail running

Michele Hartwig playing her native trails within the U.S. Midwest.

AJW: What are the 3 greatest demanding situations you face as a race director?

Hartwig: First, organizing and taking care of the volunteers on race day. We paintings exhausting to get as many volunteers as we will be able to on race day, after which we attempt to flippantly distribute them to successfully run our support stations, park vehicles, lend a hand runners throughout roads, and do the entire different vital issues that wish to be executed on race day. You will need to me that the volunteers benefit from the race enjoy and don’t really feel beaten by means of what they’re doing.

Crowd control is the following problem. It simply takes a few other folks parking poorly to purpose a race-day disruption that may exchange the way forward for the development. We wish as many support stations as conceivable to have group entry, but if we have now persevered issues at support stations, and it disrupts the group across the path, we need to cause them to no-crew-access stations. We post indicators, ship out parking directions, and do what we will be able to to lend a hand the group make excellent parking choices.

3rd, outdoor products and services that I wish to rent are a reason behind race-day and pre-race pressure. For instance, the Hennepin 100 Mile is a point-to-point race. We bus our runners to the starting point, after which they run to the end the place their automobile can be ready. When the buses pull into the starting point to drop off runners, it’s an important feeling of reduction to look them arriving safely.

I battle with discovering corporations to ship port-a-potties to our support stations. Port-a-potty corporations would somewhat ship to simple places. We’re inquiring for potties to be dropped off in the course of nationwide forests, state parks, and rural spaces. They don’t all the time comply with ship all over the place I ask, so this is a consistent problem to search out the most efficient setup for the runners.

Michele Hartwig - finish 2022 Hennepin 50k

Michele Hartwig greets a finisher on the 2022 Hennepin 50k.

AJW: What adjustments have you ever noticed within the recreation because you started directing occasions?

Hartwig: Once I first began, I noticed only a few ladies on the race starting point, and the overall collection of entrants in a race have been all the time small. If there have been 50 other folks at the starting point I’d suppose, Wow, this can be a large race. I really like that such a lot of new individuals are being presented to the path working and ultrarunning group!

AJW: What are you having a look ahead to maximum within the 2023 to 2024 tournament season?

Hartwig: I stay up for each and every race that I placed on and we have now a race virtually each and every month. Our latest race, known as the Midwest States 100 Mile/100k/50k, first ran in 2022, was once simply remaining weekend so I’m lately feeling a large number of pleasure in what is occurring there. The direction is deep within the stunning Chequamegon-Nicolet Nationwide Woodland. We use the long-lasting Ice Age Path for almost all of the direction. It is a 1,000-plus-mile steady path that meanders via Wisconsin. The native households that encompass this path have proven as much as make stronger this race. They weren’t essentially runners, however they love this path and make stronger the race as a method to welcome runners to their house trails.

Subsequent 12 months we have now locals from the realm who weren’t runners prior to that who at the moment are making plans on working the race. I really like seeing new other folks including path working into their lives, as each volunteers and as runners. This race has many runners that experience made this a annually custom. We’re operating on a flannel blouse for three-time finishers, for which they may be able to get started accumulating patches for yearly they end a distance on the race.

It is a quiet, old-school tournament that has an extra-special, grassroots group really feel. It rings a bell in my memory of after I first began working ultras. All of us camp in combination within the stunning woodland, and spend the times prior to the race in combination.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Scratch Brewing Company beerThis week’s beer of the week comes from Scratch Brewing Corporate in Ava, Illinois. Maple Bark Lager is sort of a fall night in a bottle. Flavored with maple bark and a slightly of maple syrup, Maple Bark Lager is a easy consuming lager with a toasted malty end.

Name for Feedback

  • Have you ever taken section in any of Michele Hartwig’s occasions?
  • Which one, and the way was once it?


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