Second race in three weeks.
I ran the first mile behind three women, two of whom were chatting it up quite a bit. The old me would have gotten annoyed with their constant banter but the trail was tight single-track with little room for passing so I just hung back and chilled. Just over a mile, we hit the first hill, one of many STEEP climbs in the first three miles of the race, and I made a move to pass them. I never did see, or hear from them again. Three down, 86 to go (I'm guessing on the size of the field since the results have not been posted at this time).
I ran the next 2.5 miles of constant up and down, twisting, turning single-track alone in quiet solitude. The tail was so twisty that I could see runners through the trees but it was impossible to determine how far ahead they were. I assumed I would run the remaining miles this way and finish as the last male runner. After turning a corner and beginning a long uphill climb, I saw a male runner about 100 yards ahead. I now had a target in sight!
I slowly closed the gap and noticed the guy was running barefoot! I didn't think that was best footwear choice considering the fallen autumn leaves were concealing the rocks and tree roots on the trail. As I passed the barefoot wonder he complained to me that he could not see what he was stepping on and it was killing his feet. You think? I was no long the last place male but I was the last place male wearing shoes!
Miles 4-6 were relatively easy with some flat trail along the Dead and Nashua Rivers. I cruised along feeling very comfortable with my easy pace. The next three miles were the most difficult with 4-6 VERY steep climbs and descents. I'm sure the steepest had to be at a 45-50 degree angle. As least it felt like it to me. I passed a number of people in those final miles but never really turned up the pace. I guess they must have gone out too fast and were fading near the end. It's always fun to be picking off runners as you near the finish line.
Left, right, up, down and all around.
Not a lot of elevation change but plenty of short and steep ascents and descents.
I'm sure I finished in the back of the pack but that doesn't matter to me. I was back in the woods, running my first Grand Tree Series Trail Race in nearly fours years. The Grand Tree is where I fell in love with trail running, and where I met some great people and became friends. It felt good to come home after a long absence. It won't be another four years before I run my next.