It was a bonus miles 50K race!
I travelled down to just outside of Charleston West Virginia for the 3rd running of the Kanawha Trace Trail Race. This 31 mile trail is maintained by the Boy Scouts, follows some roads and entire private property, and has been around for fifty years now. Try developing a trail these days that cuts across private property..
The race started late. It was a point to point race, and the 50K runners were bused out to the start. We were on the bus prior to the 630 am departure time, and we left about fifteen minutes later. At the starting point we then waited for everyone to go to the bathroom via the portopotties or the woods. The race actually started at 751 am vs 730 am.
The first place where a bunch of us runner miss the trail turn off is about mile 2. But as runners come back at us, I realize it’s only a couple of hundred feet back. Ooops. Watch for the yellow/white blazes and white flags.
My friend Kathy catches up to me (or me to her,) after this first off trail, and we stay together for just a few minutes as we hit a logging road, and I stop to pee. I hop back on the road, with other runners, and no runners in sight in front of us. We head up and then down a logging road. Wait, no white flags. Is this correct? I believe it is, because the RD said something about a big downhill with no markings. Lorraine and I continue down and down a hill. The others have dropped back (or gone the correct way.) I finally turn around when the logging road ends. Finally satisfied that this is indeed NOT the correct way, we now have to climb back UP the road. I try to stay positive. My time goal is pretty much out the window, here in mile 4 or 5 of the race, now it’s become a long training run.
We get to the point where we left the others and look around. I take a few steps down a rough cut trail..but wait, it’s just kind of a bulldozed logging trail, and we’re supposed to be on single track. But I can hear runners down below! But turning around, I catch the Carsonite trail markers. Yep, there is the trail.
And it’s my fault, because I passed a female, on her right, right where the two white flags and Carsonite marker was. She effectively blocked my view.
So Lorraine and I were now back on the trail, actively looking for blazes and flags. We stay together for pretty much most of the run, and I can credit with Lorraine for pushing me to run, as I believe I ran far more without walk breaks with her running with me.
We catch up with Jen, run with her a bit on the road, and then are back on single track. We cross a creek and find a runner outside a cornfield. We can hear one runner yelling to another. Apparently we should have taken a left into the creek (no marker) but we bushwhack besides the corn field. Now there is a group of about six of us, helping each other out with markers.
Another creek crossing, another apparent trail. But we are looking for blazes, and sure enough another runner comes back, nope, not this way. Other runners are yelling for us to go UP the hill. So we go back to the creek, see the bridge we probably should have taken, and another trail.
I am running without a watch, so I have no idea of time or even distance that we are at. There is alot more road than I anticipated in this race. At least it is overcast, and not that warm; meaning it was about 80 degrees. At another intersection I yell at Lorraine; she has gone left but I spied blazes to our left.
We were warned about the field with the bull. We see the sign, climb into the field, and spot another runner. He can’t figure out where to go. I spot a Carsonite marker in the field, but no good intel on where to go next. Finally I glance UP and can see a wooden sign at the top of the fence line, and see a faint path in the dirt. Might as well go up there and see if that is correct: it is, we see blazes again and go on down the road.
The single track on this trail was very nice. Not big long WV climbs, but many many pointless ups and down, very telling on the quads and hamstrings later in the race, as we climb over fences via wooden tripods built for this purpose.
As I don’t have a watch, or actually even know the mileage between AS, I am pretty happy to hear we are at mile 9 or so to go. Lorraine drops me here, she must have gotten her second wind and she is gone!
I catch up to Amanda, (whom I have mixed up and been calling Julie all day! Sorry!!!) who has been in front of me all day after my bonus miles as I am bombing down a long downhill to the last AS. I am now happy to hear we are three miles out, and another female remarks she could still break eight hours possibly.
Okay! I have had no clue what time it was, or when I would finish. I figured under seven hours was gone after my early bonus mileage (and subsequent small detours) and was kinda hoping it would not be a PW (personal worst) run for me.
Three of us leave that last AS and she is right behind me. But I figure if we stay even close, she won’t catch me on the downhills. If we ever get to any, as we seem to climb for at least one of the last few miles. Finally it seems mostly downhill to the finish. With no watch, and no idea of the course, I have no idea of how close I am. I am spun out on a gravel road, and I can see white flags. Okay, keep going. Finally get to the lake, so I can hear the loudspeaker and know I just have to run around the lake to finish. I see Lew McGrath almost when I get to the finish line (he’s long since finished) and give him a shout out. I am happy to see 7.40 something on the clock! Hey! At least it is sub eight! Not too bad for bonus miles and WV hilly miles! I finished in 7.49.
I don’t spend too much time around after the race, although I would have liked to, but I really just wanted to get home, with all of our home projects happening.
There were really nice aid stations at this race, there was ice cold water and Heed (yes I can tolerate it) at each AS, and plenty of food to choose from, and very helpful volunteers. Also the dinner the night before was very good, and the food spread post race was great!! I could have ate a bunch more, but didn’t want to get the post race sleepies while driving home.
Thanks to Lorraine for running most of the race with me. Running with somone always makes the miles go faster, and having two pairs of eyes seeking out those flags and blazes was real important for this race!