Howling good time

Frigid winter race nears again


OMER — It’s cold and dark in the middle of January. Sound like a perfect time for a run?

If so, then the Winter Wolf 2009 is calling your name.

Held yearly by the non-profit group the Witchy Wolf in Michigan Preservation Society (WWIMPS), the Winter Wolf, which will be held on Jan. 17, 2009, is truly a race like none other — 15 miles down dirt roads, highways and through the Omer Plains with a start time of 6:30 p.m.

“We’re expecting a high temperature this year of two or three (degrees),” said WWIMPS member and race coordinator Charles Hilyard. “We always have somebody that has icicles on them.”

But during the 15 mile run, racers not only have to deal with the elements and dark of night, which requires entrants to wear head and taillights, but also the “wolves” lurking in the forest area of the race trail.

“There always seems to be a few people out in the woods trying to scare people,” Hilyard said. “That’s part of the game.”

Besides going through the plains, the race also requires runners to make about a three-foot jump over a creek, Hilyard says.

“Amazingly one guy did manage to fall in last year,” he said.

But for that runner, or other runners who can’t finish, help isn’t far off.

“[The] Omer Fire Department usually trails the last runner and the Sterling Fire Department closes down the two major intersections (where the track crosses Grove Road),” Hilyard said, adding someone is close by if medical help is needed.

He also says the only injury incurred during the Winter Wolf was due to an object in the raceway in 2007.

“We had one lady that actually hit a car,” Hilyard said. He added the car had been abandoned in the plains and since it was white, it blended in with the snow and the focused runner didn’t see it.

And even though competitors have to deal with several outside forces that could slow them down during the long-distance grind, Hilyard says runners love the Winter Wolf and the numbers show it.

“We’ll probably go over 100 (entries) again,” Hilyard said. We’ve got a very faithful clientele.”

He added that as of Dec. 3, there was already between 25 and 30 people signed up for the annual winter run.

No one has to leave empty handed, either. Hilyard says early entries, those who sign up before the day of the race, can receive custom WWIMPS dog tags and t-shirts. The winners of several different divisions, based on age and gender, team and individual, will receive cedar boxes engraved with the WWIMPS logo.

All runners will also be welcome to food and refreshments afterwards at Jammers Bar in Omer, Hilyard added.

Early registration is $33 and day-of-race registration is $40. For more information, visit


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