2015 offered a creative challenge for our photographers: the Kettle Moraine 100-mile ultramarathon. Race directors Tim “Timo” Yanacheck and Jason Dorgan hired Focal Flame Photography to document the 20th year of the race, which was started in 1995 by husband and wife ultramarathoning legends Kevin Setnes and Kristine Clark-Setnes.
Yanacheck wrote, “[The Kettle 100] was founded as the first 100-mile race in Wisconsin. Both of the founders, Kristine and Kevin, are former national champions. They live near the race site and still volunteer at the race every year. After six years, the Setneses turned the race over to Jason Dorgan and me; Jason and I have served as co-race directors ever since.”
The race offers 50-km, 100-km, and 100-mi course options, and a “fun run” option that’s a mere 38 miles long. Aside from road crossings, the course is run entirely on trails and follows the Ice Age National Scenic trail for nearly 65 miles. Meandering through and over moraines, the rolling elevation results in a total altitude gain of about 8,800 feet. It’s a perennial favorite in the ultramarathon community. Yanacheck wrote, “There have been a lot of impressive performances over the years. One notable historical fact that we're rather proud of is that the Kettle Moraine 100 was the first major 100-mile race won overall by a woman, Donna Perkins, in 1998, and Donna's time (18 hours, 12 minutes, 30 seconds) still stands as our course record for females. Our course record for men was set by Zach Gingerich in 2009, 15:17:32.”
Focal Flame photographer Austin Cope (who now lives in Colorado) created this photo essay of the 20th running of the race. (Focal Flame Photography also provided race photography this year for the 21st annual Kettle Moraine 100 on June 4-5, 2016.) Austin found himself drawn into the rawness of an endeavor that was primal in its intensity, while being imbued with a sense of tranquility from the woodland setting.