ITC Frigid 8 and Thermal 3



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Thermal 3

Frigid 8


Jesse Becker (2015) 16:11.6

Scott Hayden (2015) 42:28.5


Stephanie Riedel (2004) 18:48

Karen Schoenrock (2003) 50:20


HISTORY. The Frigid 8 was the second race established by the Indianhead Track Club. The club members noticed that Wisconsin road races went into hibernation from November until April but the local runners kept running and the cold weather did not seem to bother them. So the club scheduled the first Frigid 8 race for Carson Park on December 12, 1970. The advertisement read, "This race will go on under almost any weather conditions. If you can get to Eau Claire, there will be a race."

Unfortunately, the first lesson learned on the morning of the race was "Do not choose a shady course in December". Carson Park was snow-covered and icy. Dave Angell and Dave Weiss drove to Highway 93 south of Eau Claire which was a north-south route and usually free of snow. They measured the new course on Highway 93 by driving Dave Weiss' VW Beetle 4 miles south from Local Hardfacing, and marking a turnaround spot.

The race in 1970 was scheduled to begin at 3:00 PM on the theory that the afternoon start would allow runners time to get to Eau Claire. That afternoon they learned Lesson 2: "Do not start mid-December races in the late afternoon". In mid-December, night comes quickly and by 4:00 PM, as the last of the runners were finishing, it was pitch dark. The Highway 93 course was flat and fast, with the runners heading south for the first four miles and a prevailing northwest wind at their backs. But, at the turn-around, when everyone was warm, AND SWEATY, the runners turned into the winter wind. Ten runners participated the first year. Paul Dale of Eau Claire finished first in 43:29. Runners were a hardy breed in those days. The cold alone wasn't a challenge. Nobody paid attention to brutal headwinds or drifting snow.

In the 70s, runners didn't have microwaves, garage door openers, TV remote controls, Cotton sweat shirts and sweat pants were common. Some runners wore women's pantyhose which gave some protection against the cold, but did not hinder running. Some thought vaseline smeared on the legs helped. Jim Drews, the 4 time All-American and WIAC Champion from LaCrosse, won the 2nd running of the Frigid 8 in 40:27, averaging 5:03 per mile. The 34 runners that day included several top Minnesota runners such as Gary Tomzak, Steve Hoag, Bruce Mortenson, Ron Dawes and Jeff Brain. Jim Drews won again in 1972 in 41:55. The temperature was near zero and a 5-10 mph northwest wind resulted in a much colder wind chill. There were 30 finishers.

In 1973, Jan Arenz, who still holds the Minnesota women's record for 50K, became the first woman runner to run this race. She finished in 58:16. Jim Drews continued his domination of the men's field, finishing in 40:35.3. The race began to grow starting in 1975, when 57 runners participated. The next year, there were 73 finishers including 9 women, and in 1977 it more than doubled to 176 runners. In 1978, because of the increasing traffic on Highway 93, the race moved to Lowes Creek school and was run on the famous "double-eye" (County Highway II) route, a course advertised as having "8 FUN hills" and "8 hills up - 8 hills down - 8 miles around". 268 men and 59 women finished the race that year and Dan Rindfleisch, who in 2004 was named Masters duathlete by USA Triathlon, established the men's race record at 39:26.

The Thermal 3 was added in 1984. The year of 1987 was notable for 2 records: 470 runners finished the races that year, and Sue Wurl established the women's race record at 47:12.

In 1990, the race moved to North High School in Eau Claire because of traffic-runner-safety issues and the courses circled around the airport. In 1997, the race was brought to McDonnell High School in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and settled at its present location at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, 1300 Mansfield Avenue, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin in the new millennium keeping basically the same course since 1997. The hills are there, but they remain uncounted, and their 'fun-ness' remains unadvertised. Bad weather continues to be factor in the race and in the finishing times. In 2007, the snow flurries started just as the runners hit the starting line. By mile 2, the roads were snow-covered and slippery, and so were the runners. In 2006, the runners faced a strong, icy headwind for the first half of the race, then it blew them back into the finish line. However, the race has been blessed by friendly weather also. The 2003 and the 2015 races were sunny with temperatures in the mid-40s, which may explain the race records set in those years.

Runners are encouraged to bring a smile, a mother-nature-can't-beat-me attitude and layers of clothing. For a better, personal observation of the race, read the Alchemist's article about the 1989 race.

Contact the RaceDirector: Warren Kerola

Our race would not be possible without the support of our sponsors:
Spring Street Sports Marshfield Clinic  Salm Law Office 
Chippewa Six-Pack
Jeffrey Brown MD, Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic 
Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital