Taking on Midwest States & Coyote Summer

“Don’t let the bigness of the challenge scare you.” 

Three friends, Kate McKinley, Sarah Greim and Shauna Carlisle, have taken on a few challenges this summer and are absolutely crushing them. They kicked it off with Midwest States 100, a virtual 100k or 100 mile event to take place over 10 days put on by Ornery Mule Racing, and they are following that up with Coyote Summer, another virtual distance challenge from Ornery Mule with options of 100, 150, 200, 300, or 400 miles to be completed from July 1st-August 30th. 

All three had done the Fleet Feet Davenport trails program in fall of 2019 which is when the talk of signing up for the Hennepin Hundred 50k, which takes place every October traversing the Hennepin Canal in Illinois, began. They had planned to use local races in their training towards the 50k, but with many races being cancelled they thought Midwest States would be a good way to keep on track for Hennepin. They have found that having partners for accountability has been key in achieving their goals. Greim says, “I think that it is important to remember that your crew will know your vulnerabilities and your excuses, and not let you get away with anything. During this time of the pandemic it has been nice to be around other people (socially distanced) and share our concerns, joys and have some fun. Having something to focus on besides everything that makes this time in history so different has been a great distraction and kept us mentally and physically healthy!”

They have found that one of the most difficult parts of doing Coyote Summer is that it takes place in.. well, summer. Heat, humidity, bugs and quick weather changes (I know we’ve all been caught in those flash rain storms before) can’t get in the way when you have a goal mileage for each day in order to hit your overall goal. “I prefer to get my miles in early before my brain wakes up and figures out what is going on. The first step out the door is always the hardest but even though not all the miles have been great I am always proud to have completed them”, said McKinley.

The amount of consistent mileage each day was another hurdle. “The 300 mile challenge was a big stretch goal for me because committing to 5+ miles a day for 62 days was something I have never done”, said Sarah. Shauna agrees, “I've never done anything like this that requires so much consistency. In all my years of doing triathlons, I always had off days from training (whether I was supposed to or not), and this is putting in the time and the miles every day.”

Race Director and Founder of Ornery Mule Racing, Michele Hartwig, loved the creative challenge of finding a way to put together an experience that would bring the community together. While she typically spends a year developing a new race, for both the Midwest States 100 and Coyote Summer she “designed, planned, built a website, had artwork made, marketed, sold and executed these races in a very short period of time.” One of the biggest challenges was shipping over 1,000 of their amazing swag bags to runners, with many registrants being outside of the U.S. as well. “It was a lot of work and having the runners enjoy it made it worth the effort.”

Hartwig also puts on races such as Frozen Gnome, Earth Day Trail Races, Galena Sky Trail Races, Kettle Moraine 100 and The Hennepin Hundred.

The three are now entering their second month of Coyote Summer. “Don't compare yourself or your performance to anyone else. Don’t let the bigness of the challenge scare you. The great thing about Coyote Summer is it's not about how fast you are, it's just about getting out there. I never thought I would be looking at doing 300 miles in two months, and yet here I am on day 28 and I'm almost at 150 miles. Can't wait to see what the second half brings!”, remarked Carlisle. This inclusivity of events is one that Ornery Mule always provides but is especially felt with the virtual distance options. Hartwig says, “I loved that both Midwest States 100/100k and Coyote Summer can be done by runners of all fitness levels. Both races were designed with the thought of helping people create healthy habits in consistent running or walking. Consistency is the key to improving. You will be healthier and happier! You deserve this time for you!”

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