WAUSAU –The IRONBULL Ultra Trail race course’s rock scrambles, roots, and elevation gain were already a challenge in itself.  Now add in slippery rocks and roots, mud, and rain.  That’s what runners faced during the inaugural IRONBULL event.  Nonetheless, racers were all smiles at the finish line.

First time ultra marathoner John Lauer beamed as he crossed the finish line in 7 hours and 28 minutes.  His wife, Meaghan, who competed in the 15k race was there to greet him.  Lauer laughed at the idea of racing an ultra marathon only months ago.  Now Lauer is one of many racers that welcomed the adverse weather conditions.

“The humble feeling of pushing forward in the adverse weather was much more rewarding in the end. I loved it!” Lauer explains.  Lauer serves as a firefighter/paramedic for South Area Fire District.

Ultra marathoners were challenged with the terrain at Rib Mountain State Park with nearly 7,000 feet of elevation change.  This results in an average of 225 feet of climbing per mile.  This outpaces some of the most prestigious ultras in America including Western States (180 feet per mile) and Leadville (156 feet per mile).

Even though the 50k challenged even the toughest athletes, many racers competed in the 15k.  Venkatesh Krishnamurthy Ganeshan was hesitant to sign up since after moving to Wausau, he was challenged with the winter and gained weight.  However, he decided to give the event a try.

“It was fun ascending and descending the slippery Rib Mountain trails in the rain. I thoroughly enjoyed the fall colors and finish line celebration tapping into amazing live performance by Allen Brothers Band,” explains Krishnamurthy Ganeshan.

But it wasn’t just the race organizers and racers that made the event great.  “Credit goes to volunteers who were very friendly and encouraging throughout the run, supportive cops diverting the traffic on the highway, and well managed aid stations. Overall the event was flawless. Icing on the cake was the live performance at 400 Block,” continues Krishnamurthy Ganeshan.

IRONBULL’s mission is to attract and retain people in Central Wisconsin by showcasing the great outdoor recreation opportunities which include Rib Mountain State Park.  Racers came from six states for the event.

Dave Eckmann, president and CEO of Greater Wausau Chamber of Commerce, also conquered the mountain.  After 1 hour and 45 minutes battling on the course, he came through the finish chute muddied but proud.

“It’s amazing the challenge we have right out our back door.  I recently went to the Rockies and this course was just as challenging.  In fact, this was much more rigorous than Army field medic training,” reflects Eckmann, an Army veteran.

IRONBULL’s next event is the Red Granite Grinder slated for October 19, 2019.  This event includes an 80 and 140 gravel bike race as well as a 12 mile recreational bike ride in downtown Wausau.  Next year’s IRONBULL Ultra Trail 50k/15k will be held October 3, 2020.  Full results at:  https://www.ironbull.org/ultra-results-2019

Photo credit:  Gregory T Photography LLC