Sports column: Nordgren prepares for 100-mile journeyEric Nordgren’s running career began when he was a teenager attending Northwestern High School in Maple, Wis.
Eric Nordgren’s running career began when he was a teenager attending Northwestern High School in Maple, Wis.
“I was lucky to have John Woodbury as my coach at Northwestern,” Nordgren said. “He made running really fun and I grew to love running more and more.”
Little did Nordgren know that his high school running career would lead to him running in college at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and then going on to compete in various road races following his college career.
In 2011 Nordgren and his wife Kendra moved from the Twin Cities to Duluth and that is when he fell in love with long-distance trail running.
On June 29, Nordgren will be participating in the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run for the first time after being selected from its lottery.
Each summer, the Western States 100 begins at 5 a.m. on the Saturday of the last full weekend of June. In order to get an award, runners must complete the 100-mile course no later than 10:59:59 a.m. on Sunday. The race begins in Squaw Valley, Calif., and Nordgren must get to Auburn, California.
Runners who finish in under 24 hours get a silver ranking and those who finish in under 30 will receive bronze. Nordgren is hoping to earn
This is Nordgren’s first 100-mile race, but he has competed in a few 50-mile races. This August, his wife will be competing in her first 50-mile race. The two met at cross-country camp in college, but Eric deems himself the more competitive one.
Although the idea of training for a long race like this seems daunting, Nordgren said it hasn’t been too bad; but the biggest adjustment is going from running 7-minute miles on the street to 11-minute miles on the trail due to the change of terrain.
“It’s all about building up,” Nordgren said. “I’ve built up the mileage slowly. There was a time I wouldn’t have ever seen myself doing this, and now it just seems normal.”
The trails across the Northland have been the perfect place for Nordgren to get his miles in during his training, and his part-time job at Duluth Running Company has allowed him the perfect time to get practice time in.
And although the race is a huge undertaking, Nordgren said he’s ready. He’s been carefully planning and preparing both physically and mentally since he was selected in the race lottery last December.
“I’m doing my best to stay calm and composed,” he said. “I feel good about my training, but I’m slightly nervous about the unknown.”
The biggest unknown factor is going to be the weather, Nordgren said. “That’s what I’m most concerned about,” he said. “I’ve had trouble on warmer days in the past and ended up in medical tents getting IVs. Some of those canyons I have to get through can get up to 100 degrees, and that’s not easy to train for here in Duluth.”
Nordgren has tried to train for all conditions, including wearing stocking caps and sweatshirts on 80-degree days, and hopes that he’ll be ready.
Training in the Northland, Nordgren is surrounded not only by his wife, but a great network of other runners. And the trails are plentiful.
“Duluth is an active community,”
he said. “Also, I’m incredibly lucky that I’m able to go out my door, and in three minutes I will be in Chester and have access to 30 miles of trails in front of me.”
Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes about sports for the Budgeteer. Contact her at email@example.com.