When I ran this race last year, it rained the whole time. It wasn’t too uncomfortable though with temperatures in the mid-50s, and I enjoyed the course and the challenge so much that I decided to return again this year. This year I was pleasantly greeted with beautiful, dry weather. The ride to the start was more comfortable also this year compared to last year since we were transported in two 15-passenger vans as there were a total of only 20 runners. Last year we got to ride a school bus on the winding roads. The thought in my head at the start was that I had an excellent chance to finish in the top 20!
Mile 7 1:35:46 Lick Creek Mountain
The first climb is a real beast. I probably pushed too hard climbing up the first mountain, but I came here to get a good workout in so push hard on the first climb I did. My goal for this year’s race is to finish faster than last year’s time, which was 8:41. At this first aid station, I grab a couple of sandwich quarters and head out for the lollipop loop, which will bring me back to this aid station.
Mile 10 44:35 Lick Creek Mountain
This little lollipop loop looks easy on paper, and it even starts off easy enough. But, then when the stick portion is over, the steep, short hills begin. The hills are so steep that it is nearly impossible to run up or down them. This is why my pace is no faster than it is. When I get to the aid station, the course sweepers are just heading out on the loop. I hope I don’t see those guys again today.
Mile 13 45:00 Norma Road
Leaving the last aid station, John Storey passes me as we are going down the hill. When the trail flattens out some, I pass him back and then we end up running together for several miles. At this aid station, we chat a little with the volunteers before grabbing more sandwich quarters and pressing on.
Mile 18 1:35:56 Lower Elk Field
John and I stay together for most of the climb leaving the Norma Road aid station. We are joined during the climb by two other runners—Ryan Moran and Steve Fort. After we get mostly to the top of the climb, I attempt to throw a few surges in to see if I can leave these three guys behind. After about a mile of this effort, I decide I need to slow down and all three of these guys end up passing me. Shortly thereafter, while I am trying to cross the Elk Field, I roll my right ankle rather severely. I am still laying on the ground, when the next runner passes me. He does stop to ensure I am okay. I hobble into the aid station, hoping (knowing from experience) that the ankle pain will deaden out in a while. For now, it really hurts!
Mile 24.5 2:12:59 Carroll Road
When I leave the Lower Elk Field aid station, I am passed by two runners who are husband and wife—Richard and Donna Cunningham. It is a fleeting idea in my head to try and stay with them as my ankle is still killing me. After a couple of miles the ankle does settle down, but by this point I have resigned myself to just getting to the finish without further damage.
Mile 31.5 2:07:03 FINISH – Cove Lake
These mileage estimates are exactly that—estimates. I carefully descend the final hill and then put in a good mile or two of running for the final section to the finish line. I have seen no other runners since the Cunninghams passed me over 12 miles ago. I love this race for the hill workout, the low turnout (although a few more runners would be good), and the beautiful scenery. The part I dislike is the final stretch which seems to take forever to get under the interstate that one can hear for miles.
Official Finishing Time 9:01:17
17th out of 20 entrants
At the finish I grab a couple of slices of pizza and chat with John Storey for a little bit. He had a good run in from where he left me as he finished in 8:14. I am happy with my race even though I didn’t run as fast as I wanted. Now it is time to rehab the ankle and see if I can fit in another race before Hellgate on December 10. My adult ice hockey season starts in a week, and that should help get the ankle back in shape. Until next time…
Never stop running,Darin
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