Trail races have been hit and miss for me this year. Some times I feel good, other times I feel terrible. Most times I don't know which until after the race starts. It's been frustrating to say the least. 5 minutes into this one I knew what kind of day it would be. I would struggle early and often. Bummer. Oh well, such is racing. Good thing it was a beautiful day and I like the course! Don't get me wrong, an off day running is still better than not running at all so I'm not complaining. I expect more from myself, that's all.
|Summit of Soapstone Mt|
For a trail race it has a lightening fast start, a slightly downhill stretch on a fire road. It's hard not to get sucked into the 5k dash. Thankfully it settles down after about a mile when the course takes a sharp left onto the more familiar single track (which is the majority of the course). Even going out fast I still found myself around 15th once we reached the single track. Just after the 2m mark we climb 'Killer Hill', maybe a 1/3m climb up the side of Soapstone Mt. It's probably one of the steepest trails I've climbed in a race. Everybody walks this one. I took it pretty easy (if that's possible), and had quite a few folks pass on the way up.
Once at the top, the trail descends quickly on a steep technical section before hitting a series of rollers. The rollers would make up most of the remaining race. Nearly the entire race I was right in front of or right behind John Agosto and would also go back and forth with several other folks I did not know. We'd trade places often throughout the day. I hit the first aid station at 3.6m around 30 minutes in. I'd do alright on the flats but couldn't hold the pace on any hills..up or down. Grrr.
This year I was hoping not to get lost. So much for hope. This time it was only about a minutes worth so not a big deal. A whole group of us missed a flagged sharp left turn between the first and second aid station. I don't want to say the course is hard to follow, it just requires you to pay attention (more than normal), a hard thing to do when you're watching where to place your next foot. All part of the experience that is trail running :-)
The second aid station is around mile 7 and I think I reached it around 58 minutes or so. For the most part I was still hanging with the same group of guys I'd been with since the top of Soapstone Mt. Shortly after the aid station we start a long descent down a stream bed. In 2008 it was more of a stream. 2010 was totally different, with very little water. It is VERY technical and once again I got crushed on this section with several runners flying by. John went by me for the last time, finally putting me out of my misery. For the rest of the race I just tried to keep his yellow Shenipsit Strider singlet in site. Except for an occasional glance of his shirt, I would not see another runner for the remainder of the race.
|The finish is near|
Scott Mason was kind enough to come out and take some photos, which can be found here. Scott gets credit for all photos above. Thanks Scott!