I headed to the Blue Hills Ski Area this past Sunday to run the Skyline Trail Race, race # 10 in the Grand Tree Trail Race Series. This would be my fifth Grand Tree race of the year. I arrived to the race very early and helped the RD and a few volunteers carry food and drinks up the hill from the parking lot to the starting line. As a "reward" for my help I was jokingly offered a 10 minute reduction to my finishing time. I declined the gift, stating I would need at least 30-40 minutes if I would have any chance of "winning"the race.
The Skyline trail is constant roller-coaster of steep, technical, rocky ascents and descents with very little flat running. Trail running veterans Paul Young and Paul Funch likened it to a "mini" Escarpment and agreed this was great prep for the Escarpment race in two weeks. Negotiating the trail was made more difficult by the heavy rains that fell in the early morning hours. The slick granite was treacherous, the mud thick and plentiful and some of the trails were turned into streams of running water. I witnessed several falls during the race. Almost all happened when descending on wet granite slaps. The stuff was like ice!
Steep and slick most of the race.
Over 2000 feet of elevation gain in 7.6 miles.
You really have to LOVE rocks to run this race. Or be a little crazy!
I felt good most of the race and actually passed many people on the climbs. That never happens! Maybe my many miles on snowshoes this winter is paying off. I ran most of the rocky downhills with extreme caution. I felt it was better to lose some time on the descents and live to run another day. I was pleased with my Roclite 320's. They gripped well on the wet granite with only a few small slips and powered through deep, thick mud without a problem. They drained well after running through several puddles and never felt heavy on my feet.
It's been a slow month for me. Not much racing lately and nothing coming up for another four weeks. That will give me time to get in a few more long runs before my 50K.
Is it summer yet?