This past weekend I participated in only my second official trail race. It was the Skippo put on by Big River Running. This year there were 3 options available, a 10k, 20k, & 30k option. Fresh off my finish at the Rock n Roll St. Louis Half I figured I would keep my distance about the same. So I opted for the 20k. The race was just a 10k loop that was repeated 1, 2 or 3 times.
A week prior Big River put on a course preview run of the 10k loop. I had run it prior to the preview and knew what I was up against, but a lot of the people at the preview didn’t. From what I heard during that run is that a lot of people that were doing the 20k dropped to the 10k. Which I think worked out in my advantage for how well I finished/placed.
So the race was limited to only 400 people and from the results, it looks like there were only 354 finishers. Not sure on the factors of why 11.5% of the field didn’t show or finish, but I bet one of them was the weather. When I got up, I knew it had rained the night before and that it was going to be a bit sloppy, but I wasn’t ready for the temp. My temperature gauge on my cell phone registered 52 degrees. I was pumped. Overcast and 50s are my favorite for running. Well it turns out that my phone hadn’t refreshed and it was 39. Luckily I packed enough clothes for 5 runners in my bag and I threw on a long sleeve 1/2 zip pullover (Nike and its awesome). I was good to go.
We arrived at the race a little earlier than we should have. We were expecting to have traffic issues since parking is somewhat limited at the park and it can be a hassle parking far away and having to walk up to the start. Luckily Big River really planned ahead (they know how to put on a race) and set up a shuttle system at a local school parking lot and it offloaded a lot of the traffic congestion. We had to stand around a bit but there were propane heaters around which helped out tremendously. Again, good planning on Big River’s part.
|This isn’t even half of them|
Ok enough about that. Lets get to the race. The gun sounded at 8am and we were off. My plan was to start out fast so I could create as much separation from the folks who might be going slower than me on the trail. My plan worked. We set off at a crazy 7:30 pace, but it worked out well for me. The first trail you hit once you get off the road is pretty wide and runners could jockey fairly easily for position. I kept it at a 7:45 – 8:15 pace as much as I could on the wide trail to start. The first 2 something miles are flatter as flat can be. And other than some sandy spots rather uneventful. Then you hit the Stairs. From what I can find on the internets, there are about 200 of them and an elevation gain of about 211 ft. Since I was doing the 20k, I would have to do these twice. As much as I hate walking, this is one spot on the course that I would have been dumb for me to run. Especially since there’s a hill about .2 away that is nothing to be scoffed at either. The other place on the course I walked was what we had named in training the OFH (Oh F**k Hill). This one you get a nice 170ft climb in about .25 miles. I was able to run about half of it the first time and about 1/4 of it the second. I decided overall it was better to conserve on this part of the course than to go all our and have my legs dead for the remainder which is pretty technical running. At the end is a pretty satellite view. Until you reach that, here is a pretty view of me.
However after all the hills and steps were completed, it was a pretty easy (Read: Flat) run back to the finish. They only real issue was the course gets to be really rough in spots with rocks, roots, and other mother naturey things. I almost bit it once and I had to remind myself to pick my feet up. Other than that momentary brain fart, I was feeling good.
As I came out of the woods it was like a slap in the face with a ton of excitement. I was on grass and I could hear the dude on the loudspeaker talking about someone who had lost their keys. I was in the home stretch and I was not feeling terrible. I kicked it into whatever gear I had left and busted it to the finish line. Finishing with a 1:50:39. the two min you see on the garmin readout are my dumb arse forgetting to shut off my watch.
The post race activities were the bomb. A reoccurring theme in this post is how Big River knows how to put on a race and they didn’t slack for the post race fiesta either. There was some Beer, food, and a metric ton of pulled pork. I love pork.
So here’s the other stuff I forgot to put above.
Shoes: New Balance MT101’s. These shoes are the balls.
Race Goodies: Nike Long Sleeve Shirt & Skippo Coffee Mug (not available yet)
Temp: 39 Degrees
Elevation: 1036 ft