Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Li'l Rhody 8-Mile Trail Race

Sunday, November 18, 2012

8th overall of 285 finishers.  2nd in age group.  Results here.

The day was finally here.  This is the most preparation I had ever done for helping to organize any race.  Sure, it started one year ago with securing the date with SNERRO, followed by the usual getting registration and web site setup, CoolRunning, Active, media sites, etc., but I mean the real work performed by several WTAC members and myself was the clearing of the trails post-Sandy over the past two weeks.

Got to the race a little before 9 to setup for registration starting at 9:30.  People really helped out and it was like a well-oiled machine this year.  I never had to work registration myself this year, which was good because it freed myself up for answering questions as they came up, addressing the few inevitable issues, directing volunteers especially race course marshals, and coordinating with SNERRO.  Somehow the 2 hours pre-race flew by, I managed a brief warm-up of almost a mile, and it was time for final remarks and to hit the starting line.

Start of race; I'm fighting to stay near the front as indicated with arrow
Mile 1:  [5:46 pace]  I lined up in the second row and the gun went off.  I try hard to push it on Sanctuary Road to get a good position hitting the single track.  Usually I'm behind Jonny Rocket at the start of races, but I found myself running next to him, before he pulled just ahead of me to enter the trails.
Mile 2:  [6:02]  A past run through the campground.  Got passed by Muddy here, and then settled for most of this mile just behind Jonny, who was just behind Muddy.
Mile 3:  [6:51]  Slowed down here due to the terrain getting more technical with rock gardens, covered bridge, and foot bridges.  That was the last I saw of Muddy as he took off, and Jonny opened his gap on me just after Klondike Road, as he passed one guy who I then followed.
Mile 4:  [6:55]  Didn't see Jonny most of the mile through here; ran behind the guy he passed.  Ran well overall, but slowed at the few detours around the really big fallen trees.  Passed the guy on a straight-away with smooth terrain just before the water-stop.

Race course
Mile 5:  [6:52]  On Buckeye Brook Road, I can see Jonny again.  He's several hundred yards ahead of me, but I do what I can on the road to narrow the gap slightly before entering the woods running along the rock ridge.
Mile 6:  [7:10]  Slowest mile of race.  I am tiring on the uphill sections, but somehow at one point I'm within about 20 yards of Jonny once again. 
Mile 7:  [7:02]  At one point there is a switch-back coming up, where I just know Jonny is going to look back my way.  I was actually thinking if I could hide behind a large tree, maybe he wouldn't see me and would then slow down.  No, not only did he see me and widened the gap again, but now I can hear two guys behind me closing in.  Despite the fatigue, this was the mental push I needed to pick it back up again.
Mile 8:  [5:38 pace]  Exited on the roads to see Jonny just about 100 yards ahead of me.  Is it possible for me to catch him, especially with a downhill finish?  No, first comes a gradual uphill climb, which is his forte, and he's probably 400 yards ahead of me starting the descent to the park.  I finish strong in 50:25, staving off the two guys behind me, 3 minutes off my time from last year, and a huge course PR for me by about 1 1/2 minutes.

I caught up with Jonny and Muddy, both of whom I'm also thrilled to see had huge PRs.  After quick chatting, I head back onto the course to find Matthew, who together with his friend and XC teammate Jonny Eckel is running his longest trail race ever.  I think their previous longest trail runs were the middle school cross country meets of about 1.8 miles, and nothing technical.  Holy smokes - Matthew is finishing already!  13 years old, youngest competitor in the race, 8 miles on the trail, placed in his age division which goes up to age 19, and he broke an hour!!  He put a short posting on his blog (link here) which I thought was defunct - if you know him and thought he did well, he might appreciate posting a congratulatory comment for his efforts.  After the race, he and I spent much of the afternoon and evening discussing the race.  Even the family dinner talk was all about minute details of the race.

Final strides; drained of energy but a strong finish
Great, great, race overall.  I counted about a dozen WTAC finishers, many with PRs, including I believe a trail race debut for Mike B.  Indulged myself by buying one of my favorite pies of the season, a pecan pie which I noshed on in the evening - hope I'm not packing on the pounds by the end of the holidays.


  1. Great PR! Thanks for all the work you did to make this a fun event!

  2. Awesome race, Jeff! Thanks for clearing the trail and race directing. I loved hurdling the downed trees!

  3. Jeff - thanks for pushing (scaring) me! I couldn't have done it without you. The course was in great shape too. Well done!

  4. Great race, and write-up! That was a great event to be a part of, for sure, can't wait for the next one!