Neal Collick Having Some Fun Early in The Race – Photo Credit Mike Wheeler

An interview with Neal Collick (NK) post Superior 100, 2018 where he won the race and smashed the existing course record.  Interview conducted by Kevin Langton (KL)



In 2017, Neal Collick won the Superior 100 and came within a minute and a half of the course record, then held by his coach, Jake Hegge which he set in 2015. In 2018, Neal took an early lead and brought the win and new course record home in 18:56:02, shaving over 34 minutes off the previous course record and making him the only sub 19 hour runner on the modern course (the older course is considered faster, and the legendary runner Eric Clifton ran it in 17:21 in 1992).

KL: Neal, congrats on a great race and the new course record. Doing this interview feels like deja vu—seems we were doing the same thing about a year ago.
NC: Thanks! It does feel somewhat like déjà vu, except this year I was a little more focused on the course record and I was able to execute.

KL: What were your plans or goals for the race (I’m guessing that course record was one) and how did the race play out for you?
NC: I usually have multiple goals for every race with the first being to just finish and be healthy. The extreme goal for this year was to beat the course record. My focus for that was to run the first half similar to last year, and to not lose time on the second half. Marcus Quintiliano broke down the numbers. It looks like I was two minutes slower to Finland this year, which put me 11 min under CR pace. I cut off another eight minutes in the section to Crosby, and continued to cut time off all the way to the finish. Having these numbers to compare to the effort I remember is a really interesting way to reflect. I owe Marcus big time!

KL: Tell us about your crew and pacers and what they did for you. I know Marcus had set up a time schedule for you and it sounds like you were sticking to it—can you speak to that some as well?
NC: My friend Rylie was the crew chief. She’s helped at a lot of my big races and knows the sorts of things I need or don’t need to be successful. My main rule for the crew is that she has the final say in all decisions. Mike Borst picked me up at Finland, and from there we picked up the pace. He simply said, “Just shut your brain off and follow me” as he led me down the trail. A main goal with him was to get through the gorge before sundown, which we did. Marcus picked me up for the last 20 miles or so. Not only did he pace and crew, but he had every section broken down with a time goal and a short description so I knew what I was going into. He had splits comparing Jake’s record to my 2017 times, and also a time goal for this year. It’s pretty tough to predict times with the varied terrain of the SHT. Somehow Marcus nailed it.

KL: So your girlfriend was running a different 100 miler simultaneously? Please fill us in about that. Also, did you guys train together? Taper together?
NC: My girlfriend, Kellie, signed up for the Hallucination 100 because I said the timing worked out well after Voyageur. Oops! I’ll never live that one down. We each really wanted to be there to support the other one at their event. Her race started at 4pm on Friday so she was able to see how I was doing before she started. Our crews also had a group text set up so we could pass messages to each other. We didn’t know it at the time, but we had both instructed our crews to not tell the others about any low points. We didn’t want to bring the other person down. I called her crew after I finished and got to talk to her before she set out on her final two loops. She nailed every part of her race and finished with an incredible time and place (21:35/second female). I’m still trying to talk her into running Superior! We did run together when we could. She’s not a big fan of hills and that’s mostly what I was training on. Our summer schedules were pretty much the same as far as races go, so the tapers and long runs worked out well (so did the post run food). She understands how important running is to me and is very supportive in my training.

KL: Last year you missed that course record by a minute, while this year you busted it wide open. What did you do differently in preparation? And now that you are going to PTA school, is it harder to find time for training?
NC: I didn’t do a whole lot differently this summer. I compared some of my training and think the volume was actually a little bit lower overall. I ran hillier routes on my easy runs, and just tried to keep the long runs specific to what I would face at Superior. Thankfully I started the hard part of PTA school while I was in taper mode. I think my training would have taken a big hit if the race was a few weeks later. It’s nice to have some downtime from running now so I can focus on classes.

KL: The record that you broke belonged to your coach, Jake Hegge. I’ve noticed he likes to talk a little smack sometimes, but it also seems like he was rooting for you to get his record. Can you tell us more about your relationship, especially during your race.
NC: I couldn’t ask for a more supportive coach. He was pulling for me to break the record all summer. Jake helped at the race when he had some time throughout the day. He was a big source of inspiration as he would yell, “Don’t just beat the course record, CRUSH IT!” I’ve been working with him for a few years now and he really knows how to read me. He was able to give the crew some insight on how much and when to push.

KL: What’s something non-running that helped you at Superior?
NC: The support from family and friends really helped me. Life is full of stresses and responsibilities. Having that support system is what allows me to maintain the life/running balance. The support from Queen City Running Company and Buff USA also help me to train all year and in any weather. I know that’s running related, but their support went a long way in helping me achieve my goals.

KL: Did you have any low points during the race? If so, what helped you through it/them?
NC: I wasn’t allowed to have any low points during the race. My crew wouldn’t let me! But really, they were great in not letting things get too bad and making sure that I was taken care of. I was also thinking about Kellie out running her race. I knew that I could help her by running strong. I try to keep things fun when I can. Last year it was jumping cones at County Rd 6. This year it was flossing by Bean Lake.

KL: Bonus question: Please make your own question (and answer) that reveals something you think we should know about.
NC: Q: Have you ever considered getting a wolf tattoo? A: I’ve considered it a few times, but tattoos are permanent. Would I really want to mark myself up for life?

Superior Fall Trail Race
100MI, 50MI, 26.2MI Trail Race(s)
Lutsen, Minnesota
(approx 4hrs North of Minneapolis, MN)
September 11 & 12, 2020
100MI Friday 8:00AM
50MI Saturday 5:15AM
26.2MI Saturday 8:00AM

Registration / Lottery:
Registration via 15 day lottery registration period.
Opens Wednesday January 1st, 2020 – 12:01AM CST
Closes Wednesday January 15th, 2020 – 11:59PM CST
Complete Lottery / Registration Details HERE

100MI Start: Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN HERE
50MI Start: Finland Rec Center – Finland, MN HERE
26.2MI Start: Cramer Road – Schroder, MN HERE
Races Finish: Carbibou Highlands – Lutsen, MN HERE

The Superior Fall Trail Races 100MI, 50MI & 26.2MI are run on rugged, rooty, rocky, 95% single-track trail with near constant climbs and descents.  The race is held on the Superior Hiking Trail in the Sawtooth Mountains paralleling Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota / not far from the Canadian border.  The race located approximately 4 hours North of Minneapolis, Minnesota.   The Superior Fall Trail Races are very difficult / challenging races and are probably not a good choice for your first trail or ultra race (see Registration Info for qualifying requirements).

100 Mile:
Point to Point 103.3 Miles
Elevation Gain 21,000 FT
Elevation Loss 21,000 FT
NET Elevation Change 42,000 FT
13 Aid Stations
38 hour time limit
Complete 100MI Info HERE

50 Mile:
Point to Point 52.1 Miles
Elevation Gain 12,500 FT
Elevation Loss 12,500 FT
NET Elevation Change 25,000 FT
7 Aid Stations
16.75 hour time limit
Complete 50MI Info HERE

26.2 Mile:
Point to point 26.2 Miles
Elevation Gain 5,500 FT
Elevation Loss 5,500 FT
NET Elevation Change 11,000 FT
3 Aid Stations
14 hour cutoff
Complete 26.2MI Info HERE

More About the Race:
The Superior Trail 100 was founded in 1991 when there was no more than a dozen or so 100 mile trail races in the USA, back then if you wanted to run a 100, you had choices like Western States, Hardrock, Leadville, Wasatch, Cascade Crest, Umstead, Massanutten and Superior . Superior quickly earned it’s reputation of its namesake today – Rugged, Relentless and Remote and is known as one of the tougher 100 mile trail races.  Superior lives on now as one of the “legacy 100 milers” and is considered by many to be one of the most challenging, prestigious and beautiful 100 mile trail races in the country. Shortly after the inception of the 100, the Superior 50 was started and in the early 2000’s the Moose Mountain Marathon was added. None of the history or tradition of this race has been lost and is a great event for those looking for a world-class event with a low-key, old-school 100 miler feel.  The Superior Trail Race is put on by ultrarunners for ultrarunners.

More About the Area:
The North Shore of Lake Superior runs from Duluth, Minnesota at the Southwestern end of the lake, to Thunder Bay and Nipigon, Ontario, Canada, in the North to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, in the east. The shore is characterized by alternating rocky cliffs and cobblestone beaches, with rolling hills and ridges covered in boreal forest inland from the lake, through which scenic rivers and waterfalls descend as they flow to Lake Superior. The shoreline between the city of Duluth to the international border at Grand Portage as the North Shore.  Lake Superior is considered the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. It is the world’s third-largest freshwater lake by volume and the largest by volume in North America.  The Superior Hiking Trail, also known as the SHT, is a 310-mile long distance hiking single-track hiking trail in Northeastern Minnesota that follows the ridgeline overlooking Lake Superior for most of its length. The trail travels through forests of birch, aspen, pine, fir, and cedar. Hikers and runners enjoy views of boreal forests, the Sawtooth Mountains, babbling brooks, rushing waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. The lowest point on the trail is 602 feet above sea level and the highest point is 1,829 feet above sea level.