2023 Sonju Lake Road Aid Station Volunteers – Photo Credit David Shannon



This year’s ‘volunteer thank you’ and recap is going to be a longer than normal, multi-part affair.  If you have the time, I think it is a worthwhile read. If not, I will just simply leave you with a ‘thank you’… for everything.



You would think that we would eventually level off, but to date, that just hasn’t happened. We have been doing this for awhile now, and amazingly this years Superior achieves another ‘best yet’. This is without a doubt because of YOU and YOUR efforts as volunteers, and importantly, return volunteers. A common question I get on race weekend from participants, spectators and volunteers alike is “how is it going this year – any issues”?  In an endlessly dynamic environment, with point to point 100, 50 and 26.2 mile races happening simultaneously, unexpected things are bound to arise. But with this team, few of those issues become problems, and most never make their way to me. Our team leaders, captains and volunteers in general are so experienced, thoughtful and resourceful that things just get handled, and well. This is clearly evident to those we interact with on race weekend; including our runners, pacers, crews, spectators, other volunteers and partners. After each race, we receive quite a few powerful testimonials from our runners. Oftentimes they are from the heart and quite personal. The one I am sharing with you this year stuck out to me due to all of the event production specifics that this participant noticed – these successes, directly attributable to you.



Our aid station captains do a great job of getting the giveaway out to volunteers (beanies this year), but sometimes things stay just busy enough at the aid stations and a few don’t get passed out.  If you did not get your beanie for volunteering at an aid station, or another position, please email us and we will get one in the mail for you ASAP.

Aid station captains and other volunteers, if you have expenses for aid station food or other extras that you provided and would like to be reimbursed, please us your receipts.


A Notable Departure:

After seven years of outstanding leadership, Jamison Swift is retiring as captain of the County Road 6 aid station. County Road 6 is a ‘crux’ in the 100 mile race – we have joked over the years that ‘County Rd 6 is where runners go to puke’. For runners it comes towards the end of day one, after two really long, challenging sections. The aid station is just off of a well traveled, high-speed road, and the Superior Hiking Trail crossing of County Road 6 is not in an ideal location. With Jamison in charge, I never worried about this aid station. Many of you know Jamison through the awesome races that he and his wife Lisa direct, the Fire Tower Trail Races and the St. Croix 40 Winter Ultra. Those that know Jamison, know that he was never afraid to provide direction to crews, spectators, runners or volunteers. Because of this, County Rd 6 was an exceptionally well run aid station under his care. We hope that relinquishing County Road 6 will give Jamison the opportunity to tackle the Superior 100 himself in the years to come. Knowing Jamison, he will continue to volunteer in other capacities – notably, he has really honed his photography skills over the years. Thank you Jamison for everything!


Next Year:

In addition to thorough preparation in the months leading up, the hands down, single most important element of a well executed race is having the same volunteers return, year after year, taking ownership of, and mastering the finer points of their specific assignments / jobs. Whether it is course marking, course sweeping, logistics, captaining an aid station, specific roles / niches that individual volunteers help their aid station captains with, finish line, finish area, timing, HAM Radio, medical, etc. For those of you who have already made that kind of multi-year commitment, please keep coming back as long as it is still fun and rewarding. For everyone else we invite you to do the same. If and when you go to sign up to volunteer for the 2024 race, please be sure to mention where it was that you helped in 2023 and if you would like to do the same thing again.


A Strong Testimonial:

Cheri and I will of course accept some credit for the planning that goes towards making Superior a success. Our motto is ‘sweat in preparation so you don’t bleed in battle’. Paranoia and anxiety, while not particularaly fun feelings, are a race directors best friend. We try to avoid complacency at all costs. Then, there is the core group of friends and family that we lean on heavily throughout the year, with whom we simply could not do this without. But, come race weekend… we hand over the reigns, and YOU are the ones that make Superior come to life for our running community. Below is an email I received this week from a 100 mile participant that speaks to our collective effort and execution. I want to be a part of things that I can be proud of, and I am proud of this, I am proud of you – it is an absolute honor to get to do this with you.


“I wanted to write to you while the race was still fresh in my head. I flew in from Boulder Colorado and ran the 100 last weekend.

First, just a little bit about my background. I’ve been in Colorado for 22 years. My running career includes over 20 road marathons, four Pikes Peak marathons, 15 100’s including five Leadville’s and countless other trail and road races of every distance from 5K and up. Back in the early 2000’s I worked as a sports director of one of the biggest cities in the front range – I started and directed a successful trail running series that is still going today. I’ve run huge races and small local trail races and everything in-between. I tell you all of this only to highlight my experience and to hopefully give my feedback some perspective.

I have to tell you that ‘Superior’, from the website and registration process, lottery, communication and information prior to me even getting to Minnesota was second to none. If everything else that followed was just “decent” or “ok,” it still would have been great. However, starting on Thursday at the registration and drop-bag drop off, it was apparent that you, your organization and volunteers had everything more dialed in than I had ever witnessed before. By a LONG ways. The Thursday event was simple and organized. Everyone knew what to do and were incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. Little things, like the drop bags stations being so well marked and easy to navigate (and being in order of aid station!). Little things like having sharpies and tape available, not forcing us to bring clear bags or whatever. It was so easy and simple. Taking the photo of us, which I didn’t know was for the live runner tracking at the time, was a nice small touch. Even prior to the race when I sent you emails with questions that I could have found on the website had I been more diligent, you very quickly responded and included links. Everything I mentioned in this, and more, are things that are not inherent to many, or most, of the races I’ve done out here, large and small. Whereas I haven’t had what could be considered a “bad” experience, per se, it’s so noticeable when a race gets everything so right.

Now, all of that’s great but what about race day? Well, all I can really say is “wow!” Wow to so many things about what I experienced on Friday/Saturday. First and foremost, that course! Man, oh, man. I couldn’t stop talking about it all day. At every turn there was something new and then the views and then the stairs and then another waterfall and then, etc., etc., etc.! Listen, I live in one of the most gorgeous areas in the world and have ran in some jaw-dropping spots throughout the state but I have to tell you that the Superior Hiking Trail is easily my favorite single track that I ever done. It’s SO much fun. It truly has everything.

On your end, marking that course, especially one that is point-to-point as opposed to an out-and-back, has to be a huge undertaking. In my estimation, after running hundreds of races is some dense, mountainous areas, that yours was by far and away the best marked course that I’ve ever done. And that’s saying something. It was SO well marked. I’ve done plenty of “bonus” miles over my race career but it was nearly impossible to get off-track during your race because of how well it was marked. And there are plenty of intersections and ways to get lost all over that trail. In talking with one of the aid station volunteers at Finland, he told me that he was part of the crew that marked the course and I made sure to tell him how impressive it was. It makes it SO much easier to focus on a race when you’re not worried about where you are going.

Finally, I can’t wrap this email up without mentioning the aid stations and the volunteers and the community. I would have to think that the trail running and ultra community in MN is smaller than in Colorado. Not only in terms of people but in number of races, etc. One thing that was very evident all weekend is how tight and connected the Minnesota ultra community is. Sometimes that’s a negative and can feel exclusive, but that was not the case at all last weekend. I felt very welcomed by everyone I came into contact with. That’s the backbone of Minnesota! (I spent seven summers in my 20’s working at a summer camp near Brainerd. I know Minnesota nice!). For years I’ve said that there were no better aid station volunteers than those at Leadville (and they are still pretty amazing) but now I have to amend that and put your race at the top. Not only were they immediately helpful but they were also very knowledgeable. I’ve had incredibly nice people give me terrible information (how far to next aid, what’s the cut here, etc.) in the past, but I never experienced that one time at any aid station. There was energy and positivity everywhere on the course!

Finally, I had to mention just some small touches that I also noticed and enjoyed. The finish line was perfect. The food available to the runners was amazing and easy. Even the signage for each aid station for the area to pick up drop bags was really professional. It’s nearly impossible to get a 100% grade on anything, especially a race of this magnitude, but I honestly can’t think of one thing that Superior misses. Even things (like those signs for the drop bags) that you didn’t necessarily have to do, were done well. It’s a huge race when you include the marathon and the 50. Whereas another race I love, that is owned by a huge corporate entity, has enormous resources and still manages every single year to screw up a wide range of things (I’ve seen it all; from shuttles that never showed up for runners, mixed messages from aid station captains about cut-offs, emails that have contradictory information included, bad course markings, etc.), I think it’s just you, your wife and your volunteers, and numbers-wise you have a bigger total field, and 100 miles of trail (vs. a 50 out and back) and 13 different aid stations and STILL you nail it. I hope you all know just how impressive that is.

You should run a “how to” course for races. It is obvious that you and your team know what they’re doing, even down to the small details. I just now remembered the number of photographers out there and how nice they were and that you can just download the photos from the website, and the runner tracking that was flawless and the individual photo of us on the tracking and results. You’d be amazing at how often those things DON’T happen at most races out here. I’ve been telling all of my local friends since I got back on Sunday how amazing it all was and that we all need to go out and run it together.

I’m normally not one to write a novel for a review but it felt necessary given how wonderful of an experience I had from start until “my” finish. Sadly I only got to Finland. 100’s are tough anyway but my physiology makes it even more challenging as my sweat rate is off the charts and that alone complicates things (I’d rather run at 14,000 feet than anywhere with ANY humidity!). I felt great all the way to County Road 6 / mile 42 then things started going south. I wasn’t able to turn it around and continue. Even then there were volunteers in the middle of the night helping me and encouraging me and really trying their best to get me back in the race. Sorry for the imagery, but I was laughing while I was puking because they were so nice and trying so hard to get me back out there.

All of this praise from a guy who only made it half way. Now I have to come back and finish the job.

Thank you, again, for such a fantastic experience. Superior is ‘THE’ example of how to put on a trail race.”



A (Video) Ode to Volunteers:

Dan, a frequent RSR participant, who ran the 50 mile race this year, put together THIS video in honor of you, our exceptional volunteers. It is a lot of fun – please enjoy it! https://youtu.be/v6xt1i1S0qw?si=jkVf-rNO7TLNQa8o


In Closing:

Alright, after all of this, lets stop patting ourselves on the back and start getting ready for next year!

Again, I cannot thank you all enough for everything you put into Superior!  As always, if you need anything, please reach out.


With Gratitude,

John Storkamp
Race Director
Superior Trail Race