I missed this race last year when I broke my toe the night before the race. I had been looking forward to trying a trail run and this seemed like a good choice. They have a 10k, 10M, 25k and 50k. I went with the 10k although you may elect to change your race (even during the race) as long as you notify the race director.
Pre Race:I received an email from the race organizer a few days before the start of the race with some last-minute information. The race was pretty straight forward for those of us doing the 10k but more complicated for some of the other races. Anyway you cut it, I like when I get a pre-race email to give me some last-minute tips.
Race Day: This race is a bit further away from home than most of my weekend races so I had to leave early to get there although I expected little traffic. The instructions from the email were spot on and I was able to find the entrance to the park without a problem. Not too many people have found this race yet so the traffic was almost non-existent. Packet pickup wasn’t ready when I arrived and there was a little confusion as to which line was what. With a smaller field it wasn’t a big deal. It would have been a show stopper at a bigger race. The main attractions were the 50k and the 25k and those two groups (the larger fields) went first followed by the 10 milers and then the 10k gang (all 15 of us).
The Race: So I thought that I would be a Zen runner for the day. It would just be me communing with nature as I glided through the forest. It was going to be about the journey with no watch, or mile markers. In retrospect it wasn’t a great idea since I did not have that many training miles under my belt.
I was excited in the beginning. There were only 15 of us so there was a chance I could be last, so I made my goal to finish and not be last. After a short run on pavement we were into the woods. Some notes from trail running:
1. Being an overweight guy running through the woods behind three young women makes me appear creepy.
2. It can be tough to pass even when you warn the person ahead of you (even if they aren’t wearing headphones)—P.S. If you wear them you should keep it low enough to hear the creepy overweight guy coming up behind you.
3. You need to give the person ahead of you more room than in a normal road race (sorry to those I was a little close to in the beginning).
4. If this is your first trail run be aware that hydration during the race is BYOW. They can’t setup water points every two miles throughout the forest. For those running longer races, they had points setup that you could have fuel, food or whatever you needed setup in advance.
I fell. Not a total wipeout. I half caught myself. I didn’t know I was bleeding until the race was over and I stopped to look.
I did learn that you should always keep an eye out a few feet ahead of you so you don’t trip. There are a lot more hazards on a trail run than in a road race. I also learned that I have no point of reference once I am immersed in the woods. I wasn’t sure if I had run 3 miles or 5 miles. Everything looked the same. I lost my zen pretty fast going over the rolling hills. I eventually had to alternate walking and running through the hills. I kept hoping for a sign that the end was near. Eventually I found myself emerging on to a road and found a marker letting me know I had a mile to go. I was gassed but I was able to continue my walk / run over the last mile and barely ahead of the next 10k runner who kept me motivated to the end. I finished in 1:11:51.0.
Post Race:I didn’t get to hang around after the race. I had guests from New Jersey and a long ride back to the house. I collected my medal and I was off. The had some burgers and dogs cooking and I am sure they had some drinks available.
Goodies: Finisher’s all received a finisher’s medal. I believe they had a few other goodies for those who completed some of the longer races. It is a nice medal and I prefer it to a cotton t-shirt any day.
***I would have to give this race 3.5 stars. I have no point of reference for another trail run. I wasn’t a huge fan of trying to pass on the thin trails. I obviously didn’t have the best race. I think I would run it again and prepare myself a little better. They did part of the profits to the Wounded Warrior Foundation and I am always glad to put some money in their pockets. Also I have to tip my hat to those who completed the longer races, especially the 50k.
Event website: http://www.kirg.org/