Course Conditions

Interested in checking out conditions of the bay as the countdown to race day approaches? Check out satellite imagery of the ice here.

Course Reports – 2015

2/14/15 – The Second Annual Ice Bowl Ultra is in the books.

That was quite a day.  Minimum wind speed was 38 mph with gusts well over 50.  Visibility for the first 12 miles was poor with white outs that reduced visibility to 100 feet or less occurring regularly.  The temp. topped out at 3 degrees F and wind chills were 30 below and occ. worse.   One of our racers commented at the start “This is everything I had hoped for.”

3 of our 5 registered runners decided to brave the course.  Due to visibility concerns I made the decision to modify the route and keep the runners close to shore for the first 12 miles.  This added a mile to the course.

It was a grind to say the least, and only 2 of our runners finished.  Trent, our first place runner, was incredibly strong and actually broke the course record by around 8 mins. That’s with an extra mile and wind that bullied you.  Jesse, our second place runner, needed to take some time at the aid station to get blood back into his left hand as the fingers were white from frost nip.  After 10 mins of working on the hand it was functional again, he fueled up for a bit and finished strong.  Dan pulled the plug after a good effort to get to the 12 mile aid station.

There are lots of races that lots of people participate in and that is fantastic. The fact is lots of people can do it.  Doing this race is incredible.  I hope you set your sights on incredible and I meet you next year.  Pictures will be up soon.

Thank you to our runners and Aaron and Shem who filmed the event for white Knuckle T.V. on YouTube.  Jesse also wore a video camera. If you want to see more of the event go to White Knuckle T.V. on U Tube and check it out.  Jesse really did spend 10 mins. with very white Knuckles.



Winter got here just in time.  The 3″ of snow we got the other day has laid down nicely and has covered the ice with a quilt of white.  Footing will be significantly improved as the bare areas all have a bit of snow for traction.  Cleats are still necessary and trekking poles are a very good idea as you will be going through several areas of debris ice.

The first half of the course is marked and promises to be beautiful with a mix of fast and slow sections but not much in between.

With a windy and cold forecast wearing ski goggles is always a good idea.  Other things can can make a difference are the ability to cover your nose, excellent back up mittens and a change of socks at the aid station.

It looks to be a great forecast for a race on the ice, you will be tested but should enjoy the ride.

See you Sat.


The route is set.  Ice is a solid 18-20 inches but the lack of snow will make for some areas of slow travel.  About 75% of the course will have snow cover making for solid footing and good times but the remainder of the course will be bare ice.  Ice cleats will be required for  all racers, YakTrax are sufficient but other styles with individual cleats provide excellent traction also and are worth looking into.

Not required, but highly recommended, would be trekking poles.  If you do not own any but would like to use some let us know and we would loan you a pair – first come, first serve.  The course is impressive this year.  There is a lot of debris ice and the lack of snow has turned the bay into quite a scene.  Very picturesque this year – a camera is highly recommended.

This will be excellent, looking forward to meeting everyone.


High winds have pushed the little bit of snow that we have to the shore area or it is formed drifts in the areas of jagged ice.  Ice continues to be a mix of bare, slick areas and a firm snow covered surface.


Out to the middle of the course today.  The little snow that we got the other day has settled and covered the ice creating good footing, a skiable surface and a fast track for the bikers.   The ice is all of a foot thick.  Trucks are buzzing around well offshore and shacks are being set up all over, although most fisherman have been calling it slow.  The middle has spotty areas of debri ice, drifts and stalagmite fields but overall smooth sailing.  As always I think of the first time my friend Keith took me offshore on the bay ice and said to me “Jackson, you’re gonna love this – it’s like being on the moon.” It is amazing.


The tropical weather has rid the ice of some of the snow cover.  There are numerous, substantial, areas of debri ice and many piles and shoves some over 20 feet in height in the first mile from shore.  After getting off shore 1-1.5 miles the surface is flat with a zebra stripe pattern of 1-12″ drifts and bare ice.

Five miles from shore I cut a hole and measured a foot of ice.  Trucks have been driving up to five miles from shore for the last week.

If we get a bit of snow this week I will be checking the middle of the bay for white fish and a current condition update on thursday.

That was a bummer of a finish to the game, better luck next year.

Course Reports – 2014


The first 12 miles of the course are marked, remainder to be started shortly.  Course is firm and overall footing should be pretty good.  That said the first 1-2 miles are slick as it is a high traffic area and I highly recommend starting the race with ice cleats, Yak tracks etc. After this first couple miles they shouldn’t be necessary but this is up to the individual runner.  Below are things to be aware of on the course to help you get to the finish as fast and safe as possible.  We are working very hard to make this an easily navigated course.

NOTE:  Things that are important about the course.

1.  There are markers drilled into the ice every one third of a mile.  Markers that designate one mile travelled have yellow reflective fabric on the top and mile numbers written in red.  Currently the mile marker for mile 10 has no number on it but does have the yellow fabric and comes about a mile after mile 9:-).  Markers that designate one third of a mile and two thirds mile have reflective blaze orange fabric on them.

2. Just before mile 3 (past milage 2 marker then after the 2nd blaze orange marker) there is a large sign to your left that says CASTAWAYS.  At this point you will no longer hug the shore and will hold on an angle that will take you to the point of land that you will see straight ahead of you.  From this point on is a series of large bays.  If you follow the shore and don’t travel in a straight line you will go alot further than 20 miles.  So you will now take trajectories that hold you just a little bit off of the points.  Again these points are very easily seen.  The mileage markers continue through these areas but there are times just after you pass them that the next one will not quite be visible.  There will be a fresh snowmobile track and my footprints from running the first 20 miles of the 75 so there shouldn’t be any problems staying on course.

3. You will continue to run point to point until just before mile 12.  This area has a small marina that is heavily drifted.  Just off the marina will be a large ice shack with an American flag on it.  This is your aid station.

4.  After the aid station you will continue on for the last 8 miles of course to the finish.

5. We will go over this again before the race.

6. You will always be able to see the shore to your left.  Sometimes it will be closer than others but it will always be visible.

Getting excited?!


Ran the snow machine for 10 miles of the course tonight.  The rain knocked the snow base down significantly making some areas of bare ice.  From what I could see they are not that large.  The course is, once again, very firm and will be an excellent surface to run, bike or ski.  Do be sure to carefully look out for and walk the ice areas as they will be very slick.

The forecast is cold, windy and clear, which should make for an amazing day.  Tips to protect the toes include putting duct tape over the toe box of your shoes (helps to keep the wind out).  Another toe/foot protection option would be to use adhesive toe warmers (adhere them to the top of the inside of your shoe so as to not change your foot strike).  Sunglasses are a must and a balaclava is a good idea.

The course is a great winter course and the weather forecast couldn’t be better.  Cold, some wind and sun.  I hope the weather person is correct because this is what a winter race should be.

Expect one more conditions report after the course is marked on Thursday.  The countdown is on. . .


Loaded up the pulk and crossed the bay on foot.  I was able to run the majority of the time.  Crossed from the boat landing on Little Sturgeon (starting point for the 20).  Traveled from there to Youngs Reef, which usually has a couple shacks with fisherman to mark it.  I then proceeded into Oconto.

Conditions are currently very firm.  I was able to run over snow drifts for the most part as the cold temps have made it like a sidewalk out there.  There are, of course, areas of exception.  At this time there are not very many bare areas on the ice and cleats are not needed as long as you cross the few bare areas with caution as they are VERY slick.  Some fields of stalagmite like ice jams (that give you that running on the moon type feeling) pop up now and then, overall a pretty great day.

East shore crack remains locked up tight and there is only about a 6 inch gap on the west shore crack, very easily crossed.  No one out in the middle, had the majority of the run to myself.   Ice is very thick.


Spent a couple hours running part of the course today.  Blue skies against the fresh white carpet made me wish I hadn’t promised to make wings and fish tacos for the Superbowl. I would’ve liked to spend more time outside in this.

Punched some holes to fish early this morning and had about 2 feet of ice at about 3 miles off of Bayshore Park.  Reports from about 6 miles off of Oconto are 18-20 inches.  Very solid conditions all around.

Shared the ice with a biker in the early afternoon today while getting a run in.  The biker  managed the snow cover quite nicely.  Watched a couple groups of cross country skiers move right along both classic and skating. Of course the fisherman are out giving it in full force.

Running went well, a little deeper and softer towards shore where the snow is beginning to pile and drift in some areas.  Two-4 miles offshore conditions are firmer for running but it has a sandy give to it of 0-3 inches approx. Very fine winter race conditions persist.


The bay is locked up as tight as it has been in years.  Ice is solid and thick up to Escanaba and Gladstone in the U.P.  Fishermen have been driving trucks three and four miles offshore for at least a week now on both sides of the bay.  Trucks, snowmobiles, fisherman and ice shacks abound on the course today.  Ice thickness is about 2.5 feet for about the first 2-3 miles and have had a report from a buddy who is fishing out deeper that he has 16 inches about a mile and a half from the middle of the bay.

Skied the 20 mile course today and the wind has blown most of the 8-10 inches of snow that we recently got either out to the main lake or to shore.  Conditions are firm with a nice surface for all three of our race disciplines.  Cracks are pushed up tight together and form some beautiful aqua piles of shove ice in some areas.  Huge icicles decorate the cliffs in many areas.  All in all course is safe and scenic.  Will be interesting to see what the next month and a half brings.


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