Kettle Moraine Trail Runs Showcase Teamwork, Kindness and Grit

This article was written by Ornery Mule Racing event director Michele Hartwig. Ornery Mule Racing organizes the Kettle Moraine Endurance Trail Runs and is an ATRA corporate member. Photos by Ornery Mule Racing.

The 25th annual Kettle Moraine 100 Endurance Trail Runs were held on June 1, 2019 in LaGrange, Wisconsin. The event features 100 Mile, 100K, 50K and 38 mile races and the course is 100% trails except road crossings, much of it on Wisconsin’s prized Ice Age Trail.

Race weekend is magic. It is the best example I know of that includes a large community of people working together to make dreams happen. It is a safe place that we find an instant connection to one another. There is something that each of us are good at and contribute to the success of the weekend.

2019 Kettle Moraine 100 gave us every challenge possible. The day started out sunny & fairly cool. It soon showed us that it was going to give us a battle ahead. Torrential downpour, shoe-sucking mud, lightning, hot and humid weather, to a cool night with extreme fog. We are reminded nothing great ever comes without hard work and Kettle Moraine was throwing every challenge at us. Through these challenges we saw grit, smiles, and determination.

Jason Shrontz pacer told him, “You might be done, but you are definitely not quitting this thing.” Jason finished in 29:14:39. Nice job pacer- TEAM WORK!

Watching the race from the sidelines you are reminded how ultra-distance trail running is not just for racers. The entire community benefits from the great “feels.”

  • I watched a daughter pace her Mom to the finish line, and her mom won her age group. There was pure joy in their entire team’s happiness over the accomplishment. Congrats Lori!
  • A 6-year-old watched the runners at Emma Carlin and decided, “One day I want to be the youngest person in history to finish this race.” He and his Dad have already started training.
  • A dear friend of the Midwest trail community was hurting over the recent loss of his wife. He ran to honor her, and soak in the love and good energy of the trail running community.

Runners can look back at the weekend forever and remember the kind eyes of a volunteer feeding them hot broth, or a pacer running alongside them. Grateful for their crew following along and taking care of all their needs. Crew watch their runner cross the finish line, or support them if they are forced to a stop and battle on another day. The finish line represents many months of waking up early, or a late-night work out, all to train and prepared for the dream. At an ultrarunning finish line you witness the release of pure joy on personal accomplishments, many times supported by friends and family. These are all strong “feels” that make this sport so special.

The race founders, Kris and Kevin Setnes, were at the race for support. They dreamed and started this race 24 years ago. They brought me a heart-shaped rock, and said it was from their heart to my heart. They told me I was doing a great job and were excited for the race. This meant the world to me.

Jason Dorgan, the previous RD of 18 years worked the Hwy ZZ aid station. He did this all day, then enjoyed the 38-mile fun run at night. Timo’s welcoming Kindness was at the 63-mile mark, which is where the start/finish line is. Timo is famous for announcing, “100-mile runner going out!” for every runner that heads back out. My son Royal took on the responsibility of this important tradition.

As in any endurance race, some of the runner’s races were cut short. Sometimes finishing a 100-mile race includes a DNF. For those people, remember this race was not a failure, it was your stepping stone to the finish we know you have in you. Come back and get it. We believe in you.

As the race organizer, the responsibility given of managing these dreams is huge. We respect the rich history behind this race and honor everyone that built it. Our family understands how hard each of you worked to be at the Kettle Moraine races. I can promise you, there is nothing we would not have done to help you reach that goal. Trail running and this community is our passion. We care about each of you, and are so proud of the amazing achievements we saw this weekend. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your dreams.

You can read Michele’s race recap on the Kettle Moraine website. See even more photos on the Mile 50 Photography website.

Race results for the 2019 Kettle Moraine Endurance Trail Runs can be found at the following links: 100 Mile100K50K100 Mile Relay38 Mile Fun Run.