Sunday, March 27, 2011

Race Report - Make a Change Trail 10k

Please ignore that map. Woulda, shouda, coulda...dint.

Wow, the first trail run in the EPIC series - I was excited! We've had lots of rain and the Make a Change 10k course winds around Bald Hill, so you knew we'd be getting muddy!

Or maybe not.

A couple days before the race, the race organizer, Eclectic Edge Events, posted this statement on the registration page:
* Due to conditions on the trail, the courses may be relocated to out-and-back courses on the paths that loop around Bald Hill Park, to the northwest.
That doesn't sound like mud to me.

And indeed, the muddiest part of the entire 10k course was when I got out of my car in the Benton County Fairgrounds parking lot. Now I understand that race directors have it tough. No matter what they decided, people would probably complain. But come on! This is a trail run. In March. In Corvallis. Does anyone out there think the trails might be muddy?!? If you're signing up for a trail race, mud has to be expected.

Nope. The race directors took the course off the trails and put us on the asphalt.

So the race started on the Midge Cramer path, just off 53rd, by the Fairgrounds. The 5k started at 10:00, with the 10k starting fifteen minutes after. I wasn't real sure of the "new" 10k course at the start, but I heard someone say they thought we were going to follow the 5k course, then head up toward Martin Luther King Jr. Park and back for our second half of the 10k. That sounded OK to me, since that would give us a gentle downhill for the last 2k or so.

Although the rain was threatening all morning, the race started under breaking skies with a decent wind coming from the south. We followed the path to the 5k turnaround, which was almost at the parking lot at the other entrance to the park. I'd describe the path to you, but hey, it's an asphalt bike path - what's to describe?

We came back the same way we came, but cut off into the parking lot right before we got mixed into the finish line area. That tenth of a mile through the gravel parking lot was the only time during the 10k that we weren't on pavement. After dodging a few 5k finishers and family members that were wandering around the parking lot, we shot back onto the bike path that runs along 53rd. And indeed, we headed straight up toward Martin Luther King Jr. Park. I've run this route many, many times, and I knew the path ran slightly uphill all the way from the Fairgrounds to the Park, so I was a bit surprised that I felt pretty smooth and easy going up. Almost like I was being pushed from behind.

Yeah, it took a few minutes, but my tired mind finally figured it out. The wind. It was giving us a nice push out, but I knew on our way back to the finish, we'd be running the downhill into a good, stiff breeze.

We hit the turnaround at the Park, and POW, it was indeed windy coming home. But check out the pace chart from my run: I was smelling the barn at the turnaround. I tried to shorten up my steps a bit and fight into the wind all the way home and hit the wire feeling pretty good, all things considered. You can check out the results right here.

So my new trail running shoes felt good. Too bad they didn't get any mud on them. I guess I'll have to go mud them up during a training run instead. Seems like a bit of a waste of good mud.

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