The Winter Switchbacks

THE Winter SWITCHBACKS ? (2022 version)

WHAT : Probably the toughest 5K you have ever attempted. Roughly 4 loops of what locals call “the switchbacks”. Dirt, rocks, uphill, poor footing predominately on tight, rocky trails. Hopefully icy, slippery, and/or drift-covered. Also - the course is probably long. The loops cover a section of the Waterloo trail system, and on Green Road, a little-traveled chunk of hills and dirt. Basically, it is the stuff that would make a Mule puke.

WHERE : The start is uphill from the parking lot on the south side of Green Road, near the eastern Jackson County line. Take I-94 Exit 153 North 2 or 3 miles. Go east on Green road ¾ mile. NOTE – the East end of Green Road is demolished – don’t try to approach from the East.

WHEN : 10 AM on Saturday, Jan 29. This ensures that the race will be cold and miserable, and the wind has had a chance to kick up. The horse excrement sometimes is partially thawed, and makes a messy “soup” that will reduce traction.

WHY : Good luck explaining this one to your friends.

AWARDS : There will be no awards. BUT, anyone who finishes the race without walking will receive a unique something to be determined by the prize committee. Don’t worry, it will be one-of-a-kind. BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND - Anyone “beating their age” by 20 min or more will win a beverage of your choice at the Waterloo Market immediately after the race. Example: You are 52 years old, but run a 31 minute race – Bottoms up!!!

COST : A $5 Bill. No checks or anything that would require technology. We will have no change. There will be no pre-registration. Race day registration will start at 9 AM, and will be limited to the first 50 lunatics. The money will go towards the prizes and towards the Chelsea Runners.

Other features:

  • No bathrooms. Runners should use the stump by that big pile of rocks, or the outhouses about 1-mile north at Clear Lake park.
  • No water. If you want some, bring your own or go without
  • No splits. They probably wouldn’t be accurate anyways.
  • No music, cheerleaders, or other entertainment. You will get nothing except possibly frostbite if you survive. Anyone caught wearing headphones, excessive spandex, or fancy matching workout clothing will be shunned.
  • Additional running allowed. Before or after the race, you can get lost on the brutal, seemingly infinite Waterloo-Pinckney trail system that connects with the course. You may cut a hole in the ice at Clear Lake and get cleaned off if you wish.
  • Any questions, please call 734-433-9338 or email Julie Swager at
  • Check out pictures, times, and how dumb this really is at the following site: