Yesterday I ran my first trail race, my second ten miler, and my third trail run at the same time! I participated in the EX2 Adventures Backyard Burn race series. I chose the Wakefield race as the description said it was the flattest of the series. Since this was to be my first trail race, I decided to volunteer with them for the first race of the series last week. I think this was a very good move on my part! I was able to see how things operate and the organizers remembered me so I had some additional friendly faces to cheer me on. I must say, though, I was feeling a bit nervous because the runners who came in to my aid station at mile 7 last week looked ROUGH! But, this was to be the flattest course so I was hopeful. Note to self, zig-zag lines do not equal a flat course!
It was super easy online registration. If you sign up for the entire series, you get a discount. The individual races are pretty cheap, though, and you can save the online fee by mailing in a hard copy. The races do sell out so you can’t really wait until the last minute. The packet pickup was a breeze and the race shirt (one per racer per series) was very cute but the women’s cut was super small. I was glad that I was able to switch out for an XL. It was a bit chilly waiting for the start but it was to be a clear, sunny day with little wind so we knew it would warm quickly. I wore a couple of layers while waiting and then just a short sleeve shirt, long pants, smart wool hat, and gloves to run. The gloves were tossed under a tree at the start of the second lap but I kept the hat on the entire time. My hair was soaked and I didn’t want to get too cold in the woods. I also wore my older Saucony’s and wool socks.
At 8:50, we all gathered for a pre-race briefing. It was a quick overview of the course and some basic etiquette reminders and a reminder to not use headphones. We then took to the road for the 1 mile prologue which allowed us to find our pace before being forced to single-track trails. I self-selected to the very back and I think that was a mistake. I was stuck with a pretty slow group and I feel like I burned out a bit by maintaining such a low speed. Also, the other ten milers were at the front of the pack so I was pretty much alone once the 5s stopped and I kept on for my second lap. It wasn’t terrible, though, because I was able to enjoy the run a bit and listen to the river, birds, and spring peepers. The course itself was a 4.5 mile loop that I ran twice. There was a small bit of road (cinder and dirt rut) and stone (which I hated because they were very uneven), but mostly dirt trail. We crossed four streams that were mostly easily jumped but one did catch me on the second loop and I had a wet foot for a few miles. It was a bit muddy in spots – especially on the last time through – and we also had to go over several downed trees and little bridges. The switch-backs up the hill were challenging but what really got me was coming down the relatively steep cinder road at the start of mile 9. By that time, my knees would have NONE of it and I wound up walking rather gingerly down. The woman who had been playing leap-frog with me wound up pulling ahead and finished about a minute before me.
I think I finished 4th to last. Eh, that’s okay. I still had fun! Everyone was so great, even the other runners. I tripped on a root (the same one on both laps!) and everyone ahead and behind called out to make sure I was okay. The on course support was good with 3 aid stations – which I passed 6 times – with water and Gatorade. They had gels last week but I didn’t see them this time. There was real food (pizza, breakfast burritos, etc.) at the finish line but I stuck to Sprite and a banana. There were some nice give-aways and a little something for the kids. It’s a super family-friendly group and I’m glad my husband and Little Runner came back early and hung out while I was coming down that freaking hill. The sponsors were very good and my chiropractor’s office had a tent set up for adjustments and massages. A nice touch for a small race! Overall, it was a great day and I would definitely do it again!
Next up, the Marine Corp 17.75K. Yeah, baby!