Runners of all ages — including "those Indiana boys" — have been preparing for the annual Bay to Bay 10K run/walk starting at 8:45 a.m. July 13 at the Rukavina Arena in Silver Bay
That's what cross-country coach Bill Niederhaus says local residents call his delegation of runners from Princeton, Ind. Nearly every year since 2007, Niederhaus has brought a group of his cross-country athletes up to the shore of Lake Superior for the Bay to Bay race.
"Every year, we go on a trip somewhere," Niederhaus said. "After that first year that we came here, the guys were clambering to come back. You just don't get trails like that in southern Indiana."
Niederhaus started planning two trips for the runners: one to check out the trails in another part of the country and one to revisit Silver Bay.
"That way, the guys got to go check out places like Texas or Colorado, but also then everybody who comes through cross-country at Princeton High School has a chance to experience that trail," Niederhaus said.
What makes the trail special?
"Oh, man, just the fact that it's a trail," Niederhaus said. "All the races around here are through streets. You really don’t get to see trails very much at all."
Niederhaus also explained that running on a trail with rocks and tree roots along the path is a rare experience in his area. The paths surrounding Princeton tend to be flatter as well.
"You have to climb rocks and the path is in some places only a few feet wide," Niederhaus said. "I imagine that most coaches wouldn’t want their runners to run on a real trail because of the chance of turning an ankle. But there's so many rocks and tree roots that the whole race, you’re concentrating on what your next two steps are going to be so that you don't fall or trip, and that makes everything go faster to me."
Whenever the team visits the area they make a few stops at key places along the shore including a visit to the waterfalls in Tettegouche State Park, a stop at Palisade Head and most importantly, dinner at Jimmy's Pizza in Silver Bay the evening before the race.
"They (the boys) think it's just the best place ever to eat," Niederhaus said. "That might be the key to us running well the next morning."
Earlier in the drive, the group will make stops at the Mall of America in Bloomington, the largest ball of twine in Darwin and the Blue Bunny ice cream location in Minneapolis. No matter where they stop, Niederhaus said the group always wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to run together and then run again night.
As for being known as "those Indiana boys," Niederhaus said it makes the boys feel "a little bit like rockstars."
"They get such a kick out of people knowing about us," he said. "Anytime someone says, 'There's those boys from Indiana,' they just eat it up."
More information on the Bay to Bay run can be found at bay-days.org/bay-to-bay-run.