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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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 IN OTHER NEWS

PHILLIPS - An 82 year old man from the Phillips area died after his kayak overturned in Price County.

An emergency call came into the Price County Sheriff's Department just before 4:00 Wednesday afternoon.

A kayaker reported that another kayak had overturned on the Elk River about 4 miles east of Phillips.

The report was that the man was out of the kayak, but still in the water.

The victim was found unresponsive, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The man's kayak had collided with another kayak while trying to get past fallen trees which blocked the river.

Strong currents from recent rains swamped the victim's kayak.

The other kayaker was able to call for help from a nearby residence.

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RHINELANDER - Celebrating our nation's birthday with family and friends can be a great time. But it's good to keep safety in mind this weekend too.

The Rhinelander Fire Department responds to a few injuries every year from fireworks. That's far better than the national average of more than 10,000 fireworks-related injuries. But the most common injury actually comes from a firework many parents consider safe.

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MADISON - A Sun Prairie man accused of decapitating his mother with a sword last year has been committed to a state mental hospital.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed with a psychiatrist's report Wednesday that 41-year-old Matthew Skalitzky was mentally ill at the time of the killing.

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PHILLIPS - At a Phillips dairy farm on Wednesday, Gov. Scott Walker announced that the state will pour $3.2 million into supporting more than 3,600 Youth Apprenticeships across the state next school year.

Both numbers are Wisconsin records.

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- You might enjoy getting on the water during this holiday weekend, but watch out for foreign plants and animals hitching a ride on your boat. Aquatic invasive species can attach to people's boats and trailers as they're entering or leaving the water.

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PLUM LAKE - St. Germain ATV riders will need to find a new route that avoids Plum Lake.

That's because the Plum Lake Town Board voted against opening up parts of two roads: Kurtzweil Road and Birch Spring Road. Both are on the border of Sayner and St. Germain and are shared between the two towns.

A few months ago, St. Germain asked Plum Lake to open parts of those roads as part of an ATV route. At first, the Plum Lake Town Board approved them. That was before they found out a section of Kurtzweil Road was completely in Plum Lake.

"At that time the Plum Lake Town Board by a 2 to 1 vote approved letting them use that, assuming at the time the two roads were boundary roads equally shared by Sayner and St. Germain," said Will Maines, the Plum Lake Town Chairman.

So when St. Germain came back to the next town meeting with an ordinance for the roads ready to go, the Plum Lake town board then voted no.

Maines said most of the people in Plum Lake don't want ATVs on their town roads. The board found this out from a survey of residents and taxpayers they sent out in 2015, where he said about two-thirds of non-resident property owners and about two-thirds of Plum Lake resident voters voted against allowing ATVs on town roads.

"We'd like to cooperate with the town of St. Germain, but we represent the people of Plum Lake, and they have given us the message loud and clear: they don't want us to allow them on any section of our roads," Maines said.

The St. Germain Town Chairman Tom Christensen said the decision is "disappointing," but, "it is what it is."

About 6 towns in the eastern part of Vilas County allow ATVs on town roads, but the towns in the western part of the county don't allow them on town roads.

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"Two to three times a week we're here," Barker said.

The Merrill mother brought her kids to the daily free lunch program at the park Wednesday morning. For Barker, the healthy meals make a big difference in her life.

"The generosity, the park, we go to the library, so it's all in a convenient area," Barker said. "And, it's all healthy food."

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