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THE FALL 50 is a 50-mile running adventure for solo ultra-marathoners and teams of up to five runners. The course route begins at the northernmost tip of the peninsula and travels down the western shoreline along scenic back roads to the population center in Sturgeon Bay. The event ends with an outrageous party set under a tent along the shipping channel at Sunset Park in Sturgeon Bay.

“The way things are looking right now,
I may be a spectator rather than a participant
for the first time at this year’s Fall 50.”


Following a broken arm during a 50k trail race on May 30 and some rehab, I was able to start running in earnest the first week of July. I was ecstatic to be able run 7 miles on 7-7, my birthday, a tradition since 1981, a year after I began running on that day in 1980.


Then I began experiencing severe inflammation in my hand. With lots of icing, massage and other methods, it finally subsided. Since then, however the inflammation has moved to different joints which eventually sent me to Urgent Care, a number of doctors, a chiropractor and two massage therapists. I was even on an electrical stimulation unit for 72 hours straight, receiving needle-like pricks to my muscles. Nothing resolved my problems. I began sleeping 12 hours per night, getting up for breakfast and going back to bed and sleeping till supper time. Not the sleep patterns of an ultrarunner!


A lot of people suggested it might be Lyme’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid, Celiac disease, and other ailments. Desperate, I asked for blood tests and the doctor agreed. The diagnosis given was a viral infection affecting the immune system, which meant my body was fighting the synovial fluids surrounding my joints, erroneously looking at them as the bad guys. They put me on heavy medications which they hope will eventually cure this infection.


Today, my wife bought me a walker so I can support myself, as both my feet and ankles have been rendered useless and painful. The way things are looking right now, I may be a spectator rather than a participant for the first time at this year’s Fall 50.


Sometimes stepping back affords us opportunities for a different perspective. Although I may not be able to run this year’s race, I can “experience it” from the other side of the fence. I can observe the effectiveness of the race staff and volunteers. I can revel in the fun and camaraderie of the relay runners. I can interact with the merchants in the small towns from Gill’s Rock to Sturgeon Bay. I can tell them and others about the inspiring stories carried by each of the thousands of runners passing by.


So what is the lesson here? My current predicament shows the importance of remaining tough mentally as well as physically. Any runner knows the importance of remaining physically strong during a race. When we are sidelined by circumstances outside of our control, however, we learn the importance of remaining strong mentally and maintaining a positive outlook.


In my life, I am currently in the midst of a “bad race” that will run its course and soon be forgotten. When I get back out on the roads, I will remember the strength it took to get through this period of dormancy and it will help me work through other roadblocks.


So when I stop for a relaxing cup of coffee in Fish Creek or Egg Harbor on October 24th—something I would never do as a participant during a race—I will maintain a positive attitude by thinking of all of you and applauding your efforts.


See you in a few miles….ROY PIRRUNG


Roy Pirrung is a highly accomplished ultrarunners and lives in Kohler, Wisconsin.  You can email him at [email protected] 

Sold Out signNO APRIL FOOL’S JOKERegistration for the relay categories (both pairs and team) of the tenth annual Door County Fall 50 reached its full capacity of 500 teams in just one day on Wednesday, April 1st.  In order to limit congestion and maintain safety at the start line, at the finish line and at the rest stations along the course, ADDITIONAL REGISTRATIONS ARE NO LONGER BEING ACCEPTED FOR THE RELAY EVENTS. The team capacity was increased from 450 teams to 500 teams this year based on logistical improvements implemented last year to accommodate more people.  Registration for the Solo (one person) Division of the 50-mile ultra-marathon remains open but is limited to a 300-participant capacity this year. Please note that participants MAY NOT switch between the Solo Division and the Team/Pairs Division nor can they merge to form a team. The Fall 50 does not accept cancellations although team captains may elect to sell their team if they so choose. For this reason, ORGANIZERS DO NOT MAINTAIN A WAIT LIST. People wanting to buy or sell team entries are encouraged to post on the event’s Facebook page (see link on this page).

Registration for the October 24, 2015 Door County Fall 50 will open on April 1, 2015 at Noon CST.  This year’s capacity will be 300 solo runners (no change) and 500 teams, up 10% from last year.  CLICK HERE for registration fees and other details.  Despite rumors to the contrary, Sean Ryan is still the owner and race director of the Fall 50.  He has neither moved to Boston nor relinquished his responsibilities to the endurance athletes in northeastern Wisconsin.  Hope to see you all at the party!

The 2014 Door County Fall 50 Event Guide is now available online.  It has the individual leg maps and lots of useful information for team members and captains.  CLICK HERE to download the event guide in pdf format.  Full-color, printed copies of the event guide will be available at packet pick up on race weekend.


Start time assignments for this year’s Door County Fall 50 are now posted to the event website.  See button on the right side.


SOLO RUNNERS: All solo runners will begin at 7:00 am to afford them the maximum amount of daylight possible to complete the event. The course closes at 6 pm so there is an 11 hour time limit for solo runners, requiring a minimum pace of 13:12 per mile to finish.


RELAY TEAM RUNNERS: Teams are assigned to three start times at 8 am, 9 am and 10 am with the slowest teams beginning at 8 am, the middle third beginning at 9 am and the fastest beginning at 10 am.   The slowest teams (8 am wave) must average a pace of no slower than 12 minutes per mile to finish prior to 6 pm.  The anticipated team paces shown in the table and the projected finish times are calculated based on the average pace of the individual team members, information that the participants provided to usTo avoid having your team race packet lost, do not change your team name between now and race day.


WORRIED ABOUT YOUR START TIME?… Based on the calculations, ALL teams should be able to finish between 3 pm and 6 pm on race day. Each year, we are contacted by team captains who experience unplanned roster changes in October and worry that these changes will jeopardize their ability to finish prior to sunset/course closure at 6 pm. Team captains who experience unplanned roster changes that slow their anticipated pace are advised to rearrange their leg assignments to address the problem. In other words, assign the longer and/or hillier legs to the stronger runners on your team. Adapting to changing circumstances is part of the challenge, folks!




STILL NEED TO MAKE ROSTER CHANGES?… DON’T PANIC! Teams may continue to change their roster, transfer their team to someone else, and update information online through Friday, October 17th at midnight.  Teams may also make last minute changes and substitutions on Friday or Saturday of event weekend.  IF YOU MAKE ROSTER CHANGES–ESPECIALLY ONES THAT CHANGE THE AGE AND/OR GENDER COMPOSITION OF YOUR TEAM–PLEASE LET US KNOW SO YOU DON’T MESS UP THE RESULTS FOR EVERYBODY. (Yeah, at least one team does this every year. Duh.)


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