This was the third race in the 4th Season trail series and I was looking forward to it. I didn't run it last year but the prior year was my introduction into trail racing. It was also the first time I met Jonny and began to recognize some of the other bloggers I was stalking...er, reading. I knew that all the recent snow would mean that there would be no PRs today and I was prepared for a long, grueling race. My car was stuck in the driveway so I took Amanda's car. It turned out to be the theme of the day - while the road at Ryan Park was plowed the individual spaces were not. Lots of runners with stuck cars.
I had initially worn shorts but opted at the last minute to switch to the compression tights. Threw on the Yaktrax and did a short warm-up on the root run and initial quarter-mile of the course. The snow seemed fairly packed down and I thought that maybe it wouldn't be too much of a grind out there. How wrong I was.
We lined up at the basketball court and the race began through deep unbroken snow. It was chaotic - there was only a single line of track that had already been broken. It was either enter the train of runners or try to pass in the heavy stuff. After we crossed the road and entered the trail proper I found myself in about 10th place. There were a couple guys I didn't know in front of me and then Muddy and the rest of the crew. It was hard to tell how hard I was working in the snow but I saw Muddy start to pull away and didn't want to put myself in too deep a hole. I jumped to the side and passed the two guys and continued on.
|We started in deep snow and vied for position before the single file|
Photo by Jana Walker
It was tough and I was already breathing hard. Was I working too hard already? All the usual suspects were up ahead and I felt like I should be able to hang near them at least. Someone had followed me as I had passed those two guys and he flew by me just before the rail bed - some guy I didn't recognize in a yellow cap. He had no problem speeding up ahead and by the time we entered the rail bed he had caught the train of runners. I wasn't gaining on the train but I wasn't losing ground either so I hoped that once we hit the hilly singletrack I'd be able to close the gap.
As we ran through the Lafayette Road parking lot I glanced back and saw that Aaron Rome, another fellow and a Turtle were behind me, though not that close. Now briefly in the field section, I could see the layout of the train ahead of me. I took me a moment to realize that Bob Jackman and Chris Garvin were behind Jonny. Clearly there was a lot of strategy going on and I wondered when they would make their move. Behind those three were Jeff, Nate, Muddy and Yellow Hat.
At the sharp uphill that lead to the powerlines, I finally caught up to the train. It was only briefly though as they started to pull away yet again once we hit the hilly trail alongside Route 4. Here the snow was much less broken up and the going was really difficult. I saw Bob Jackman, more beast than man, rip off his shirt. He and Garvin finally made their move and pulled away from the train. And I saw Jeff hang on and follow them. The Mighty Gazelle! By the time we finished this rough section the train was down to four people and about 20 seconds ahead of me.
There was a brief stretch of open field and once I reentered the woods I was alone. Now I regretted my choice of garb. The hard work was making me wish I had shorts on. My damn watch made it impossible to take off my glove so I settled for removing my hat. It's tough running in such slow conditions with no one in front or behind. I knew that I pretty much had 8th place in the bag but I also knew that catching the train ahead would be nigh impossible as well.
|Finally it's over!|
Photo by Jana Walker
The last stretch around the ballfield was a cruel bitch. The snow was not packed down making the homestretch a grueling finale. While bummed that I couldn't challenge the others for a higher spot, I was glad that I didn't have to kill myself in this last section. Afterwards we all milled about, sharing war stories and praising/chastising our choice of traction device. We did a short cooldown (on roads) and then collected some beer for the team win. Everyone that did this race was a champion but special props to Chris Garvin for picking up the win, Jeff the Gazelle for a gutsy 3rd place finish and Nate Vinhateiro for pulling away from the train prior to the rail bed and coming in 4th!
|Another great showing from WTAC!|
Photo by Jana Walker