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Setting a Record for Running the Ice Age Trail

 

June 25, 2020

Sue Moen

Coree Woltering (far left) set a record for running the Ice Age Trail this week. In the photo above, New Glarus VFW Post Commander Chad Caso (far right) joined others running with Woltering and later presented him with gifts on behalf of the VFW.

On day three, there were bears.

"Around mile 35, I saw two bears on the trail. This is one of those, 'You always have your GoPro, how did you not capture this?' moments. But, from 50m out, they just looked like two people sitting on the side of the trail. From 25m out, it was 'Oh s#!*, two bears!' When the bears noticed me, they took off up the side of the hill. Fun times," explained Coree Woltering.

But let's back up little. Who is Coree and why is he talking about bears?

Coree Woltering is a professional ultrarunner from Illinois who has set out to beat the Fastest Known Time on the Ice Age Trail. The current record holder is Milwaukee native Annie Weiss, who completed the trail in 21 days, 18 hours and 7 minutes in October of 2018, beating out previous record holder Jason Dorgan by 11 hours and 53 minutes.

The Ice Age Trail, which meanders through Wisconsin and is nearly 1,200 miles long, is a favorite training spot for Woltering; specifically the Kettle Moraine State Forest section, which is located about 40 miles southwest of Milwaukee. The Trail goes through 31 counties in Wisconsin, including Dane, Green and Rock counties, and is not yet complete. It is managed by a partnership between the National Park Service, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Ice Age Trail Alliance. The Trail is entirely within Wisconsin and is one of only eleven National Scenic Trails.

Woltering's journey began on June 1, 2020, at the trail's western terminus at Interstate Park in St. Croix Falls, located in Polk County. On his blog, http://www.coreewoltering.com, he recalls that his largest hurdle those first two days were ticks.

"I know the ticks in Wisconsin are bad, but they freak me out. There is a lot of tall grass and fern sections, and you can see the ticks just waiting. It was to the point that we were stopping every few minutes trying to pick them off...but you just couldn't get them all. I had one that started to burrow, but didn't get deep," wrote Woltering. "I thought ticks were bad on day one...day two said, 'Watch this, hold my beer.' I started out very excited for what was coming up, but the excitement ended a couple miles into the day. The trail wasn't too wet, but the spiderwebs, mosquitoes, and ticks were really making me rethink this June start."

Woltering suffered a few setbacks that first week, along with the bugs, but overall made good time, ending day six exactly where Weiss stopped on her journey on day six.

Woltering had hoped to reach the Monticello Segment of the trail just outside of Monticello to finish out the day on Tuesday but fell a few miles short, only completing the Brooklyn Wildlife Segment. New Glarus resident Dave Kelly had joined Woltering on Tuesday morning for a portion of the Indian Lake Segment of the Trail near Cross Plains and that night, Kelly and his wife Tamea Kelly hosted Woltering and his crew at their New Glarus home, providing them with a safe place to sleep along with a dinner of pasta and garlic bread and a hearty breakfast before the crew headed out on Wednesday morning, where Woltering began day 17 on the Montrose Segment of the trail.

At least one local resident, New Glarus VFW Post 10549 Commander Chad Caso, joined Woltering on his journey through the area on Wednesday on the part of the Badger State Trail that serves as the Monticello Segment and the connector trail for the Ice Age Trail on its way to Janesville. Caso gifted Woltering with a bottle of scotch on behalf of the VFW and its members.

Speaking to Woltering's crew chief Tom Aussem on Friday, June 19th, I learned that during his journey, Woltering slept not only in hotels, but also at the houses of generous strangers such as the Kellys of New Glarus. Aussem remarked several times on the overwhelming generosity of the residents of Wisconsin, who not only offered Woltering and his crew a place to stay, but also meals and delicious baked goods. Many times there were groups of people waiting for them at certain points on the trail to cheer them on, and Woltering had a lot of company along the way including Weiss and Dorgan, the previous record holders.

Photo courtesy of Tamea Kelly

Coree finished the Verona segment on Tuesday, June 16th.

Woltering reached the eastern terminus of the Ice Age Trail at Potawatomi State Park in Sturgeon Bay in Door County at 8:25 p.m., on Tuesday, June 23rd, and beat Weiss's record. His unofficial time was 21 days, 13 hours and 35 minutes. Woltering will be submitting his tracking data from his Garmin watch to http://www.fastestknowntime.com for certification so that he may officially claim the Fastest Known Time on the Ice Age Trail. Most thru-hikers on the Ice Age Trail average 10-30 miles per day. Woltering averaged more than 50 miles per day.

So why did Woltering decide to take on this crazy journey? According to Aussem, to raise awareness and money for the Ice Age Trail along with raising money for Feeding America. Aussem remarked on the beauty of the Ice Age Trail and how he believes it's under utilized by the residents that live near it. To donate to the Ice Age Trail, which is maintained solely by volunteers, please visit https://www.iceagetrail.org/donate/. A link to donate to Feeding America can be found on Woltering's Big Run For Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/bigrunfor.

See web exclusive photos in the Photo Gallery at https://www.postmessengerrecorder.com/photos.

 
 

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