Greg Allen on Mt Trudee – Photo Credit Cole Peyton

An interview with Greg Allen (GA) about his 2018 Superior 100 finish – Greg had 7 DNF’s at Superior 100 prior to this years race – the lesson; never, ever, ever give up.  Interview conducted by Kevin Langton (KL)


KL: Hi Greg. Congrats on your finish at Superior. While we need to talk about your race this year and your finish, what makes it so incredibly special is that you’ve attempted this race seven times previously and not finished. Your perseverance is amazing. Can you comment a bit about your previous attempts?
GA: Some years went better than others. There were two years where I made it past Crosby and felt like there was a chance. On the other end of the spectrum, there were years that I had to “sprint” into Finland to beat the 2 AM cutoff. It’s an odd feeling heading out into the woods alone knowing that nobody will be coming behind until the 50 Mile starts

KL: What’s kept you coming back?
GA: Why wouldn’t you want to come back? No matter what happens, being out on that trail is a pretty good day. How many people get to head out into the woods with a headlamp? That’s pretty cool. Even last year, which was probably my worst, things were going really badly around County Road 6, and then going down a big hill after section 13, there was a hole in the trees where I could see through to the lake with the moon coming up. It was just amazing.

KL: Did you do anything different in training or approach for this year’s race?
GA: I ran a 50 miler in a blizzard this spring. I’m sure that had to help somehow. Apart from the blizzard, my running was pretty similar to other years. I did a lot of the same races. Chippewa Moraine 50K, Grandma’s Marathon, and Voyageur 50 but then after Voyageur I went to Colorado for a week with my family and abandoned them several days to climb 14ers. I’ve wanted to climb Mt. Harvard for a few years and I think four days of hiking at altitude had to help.

KL: I was at the finish line when you came in and so many people were saying, “We’re here to see Greg finish.” You had a big crowd! What was it like to come in there with so much support?
GA: That was such an amazing way to end things. I saw Donny Clark up on the hill right before Silver Bay and he told me, “It’s better to die out on the trail than to have to go back and face everybody.” I thought about that a lot the rest of the way and I’m glad that I wasn’t faced with either of those choices. The best part was finally getting to show my parents a finish. They have crewed at most of my attempts and spent a lot of time waiting for me to come out of the woods so getting to hug them at the finish line was really great.

KL: What were your plans or goals for the race and how did the race play out for you?
GA: With all those DNFs, there could only be one goal for the race. I tried to really concentrate on not going too hard at the start, but still hit all the early aid stations faster than I’d ever done before. I remember asking someone how long before I would know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Gary Sheets went with me from Finland past Crosby and up the Manitou River gorge. We got to Crosby while it was still dark. That was a first for me and was the first point in the race where I started to think about being able to finish. From there it was a 16 hour math problem about cutoffs.

KL: What best prepared you for such a race?
GA: I told my wife it was climbing 14ers but that was more of an excuse to go to the mountains again in the future. Probably the biggest difference cutting way back on drinking pop. I sit at a computer all day at work and usually would drink a bottle of pop each morning and afternoon. Cutting that out and drinking water made enough of a difference to drop 15 pounds. I made up for lost time drinking a lot of Coke during the race and the caffeine seemed to have more of an effect than before.

KL: What’s something non-running that helped you at Superior?
GA: I just mentioned not drinking pop, but I’ll throw in one other thing, volunteering at races. John Stewart mentioned drinking Boost when we were marking the Chippewa 50K and John Horns talked about using Shot Blocks at Hard Rock when we were cleaning up after an Endless Summer race. I was able to eat both of those better than a lot of other things that I usually eat.

KL: Did you have any low points during the race? If so, what helped you through it/them?
GA: This year there were no really low spots. I stayed really focused to the point of trying not to look around at the views.

KL: Can you tell us about the benefit race your family holds?
GA: Five years ago my brother Doug passed away suddenly two weeks before Superior. His heart went into a bad rhythm and stopped. He was a runner too and a doctor. The following year the Night Owl Races started to raise money toward a scholarship for people going into a medical profession. The race that we wanted to put on was a six hour timed event, but we knew that wouldn’t be the kind of thing that would raise a lot of money so we have a 5K and 10K as well. The 5K and 10K are run under the lights on the ski trails at Lake Elmo Park Reserve. The first 3 years, the Lakeview Foundation put on the race. We were lucky to be able to get Jeff Allen to be the race director for those years. Once the scholarship raised enough money to keep going, the foundation wanted to get out of the business of putting on races and so our family decided to take over. I like to think of the races as part of the slippery slope of ultra running. The 5K/10K races are a good safe intro to night running and the Six Hour Shuffle is just long enough to start getting into ultra distances.

KL: Bonus question: Please make your own question (and answer) that reveals something you think we should know about.

GA: I don’t know how much this reveals, but it’s kind of a fun question. What’s the best thing you overheard on the course?

One of the good things about being out in the woods so long is all the good stories we get to hear on the trail. With 50 milers going by, sometimes all we hear are one or two lines. Coming down Moose Mountain right near the end, I heard someone say “This is the hill that made me quit smoking.” Kind of adds a little perspective to it all.

A Special Award for Greg “Legend of the Sport” Allen – Photo Credit David Markman

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.