Northwoods Spotlight - Tuscobia Winter Ultra Jan 1Submitted: 01/01/2014
Story By Joe Dufek

SAWYER COUNTY, PRICE COUNTY - Many marathons and bike races take place in the summer. But imagine competing in an ultra-marathon in the snow. Last weekend, folks in Sawyer and Price Counties were doing just that.

In just it's fifth year, the Tuscobia Winter Ultra is growing into quite a wintertime event. Racers have the choice of running, skiing, or biking along the Tuscobia Trail.

Organizer: "When we took over organizing it three years ago," race co-director Chris Scotch explains, "we had roughly 40 people. This year around 150 are taking part. More than three times that."

The trail was used heavily by railroads to move logs to Chippewa Falls and other places. Folks also road the rails on the line until it shut down in the 1960s. Today it's part of the state's many trails for hiking, biking, and riding snowmobiles.

Ron Petit of the Friends of Tuscobia Trail says, "It's an enduring sport. You have people camping along the trail. They get hardcore."

Regardless of how racers where competing, everyone seems to have a reason to enjoy hitting the Tuscobia Trail.

Rhinelander native Kristin Palecek is skiing it for the first time. She's using this as a chance to get ready to ski the American Birkebiner later this year.

"Just like to see the snow off the trees, the nice weather. It's nice to race close to home."

Some just wanted to experience a winter race for the first time.

Milwaukee's Linda Britz calls it, "a wonderful adventure. Can you do this? I just thinks it's really neat to see if you can survive the elements."

Others it's not so much about the race, but spending time with family and friends.

Butch Piontek of Wabeno and his son Justin are biking it together.

"Racing together for 7-8 years. Started snow-biking heavily last year. Good to spend time with my son."

Racers had the choice of either competing in 35, 75, or 150 miles.

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The "Food for Kidz" organization, invited people to Lakeland Union High School, to help package non- perishable goods.

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Within the past eight years volunteers have packaged one million meals.

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This year volunteers will give 30,000 meals to the Northwoods community.

"It's just the recurring exuberance of the people that come in and do the packing we have many, repeat people that come year after year," said "Food for Kidz" Co-chairman John Breiten. 

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The Food for Kidz Minocqua committee will lend a helping hand to change that Saturday morning.

Lakeland Union High School's common area will transform into a full-blown assembly line.

Food for Kidz volunteers will pour and pack ingredients into plastic bags.

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Food for Kidz needs more volunteers by tomorrow to meet that goal.

"If you haven't experienced this, come out and try it and you'll go away with just a great feeling," said Food for Kidz co-chair John Breiten.

Kids and adults of all ages are welcome to walk in to volunteer.

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Walk-in volunteers are welcome to attend either packing shift tomorrow morning.

The first shift is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The second shift is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

If you can't make it out to Lakeland Union High School Saturday, donations are always welcome.

Call John Breiten at 715-686-7570 for more info.

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