Friday, September 16, 2016

Inaugural Wahaneeta 5K

Wahaneeta Preserve
Westerly, RI
Saturday, September 2, 2016

Race planning:
The newest addition to our WTAC races.  The impetus was to have a Fall Trail Race Series.  Unlike the new Run for the Pumpkins Trail Race, this race exclusively utilized existing trails and was contained to a single property, so the setup and permitting would be easier.  The Wahaneeta Preserve is one of the newest properties of the Westerly Land Trust, of which I'm a proud member and occasional volunteer.  The WLT president is a trail runner herself, and was completely behind our idea for a fall trail run, and by April, we had both WLT and WTAC board approval.

The challenge was to put together a 5K course on a smaller 72-acre property without having multiple loops.  After considering a number of options, I settled on a 1.5 loop course with a different return for the second loop versus first.  This brought me to about 2.8 miles, and tacked on a short out-and-back on the orange trail.  The course has 11 bridge crossings, although by race day all the river beds were bone dry.

Trail maintenance:
Really, the trails were already in good shape.  We had a WTAC trail clean-up the weekend before to spruce things up, and we got a great WTAC member response.  Beth mowed the field start and area in front of the cabin.  Jonny forged a trail loop turn-around on orange trail to avoid a cone turnaround.  Muddy and I played with weedwhackers to clean up a few spots.  Eric used a chainsaw to take out  few blowdowns and stumps.  Ready to go.

Race day:
Again, we had a good WTAC member volunteer response.  Thanks especially to Beth, Crutch, WLT pres Sheilia, Jonathan, Muddy, Jeff Vuono, Mike B, and Tommy 5K (did I miss anyone?) for everything from registration to course marking to parking and course marshals.  It all went swimmingly thanks to a great crew.

Mile 1:
As I gave a few pre-race remarks and was getting a number of questions about different loops and where they ended up, I had this sinking field that many people were going to go off-course and get lost.  I tried my best to answer, and it was race time.  Muddy lead out the small race with Jonathan Short and I right behind him.  There was quick separation at least in the lead pack.  Late in the first mile, I caught up to Muddy right after the technical rock and bridge section, but as we passed Beth for the first time, Muddy opened up a gap again as we started out on the perimeter trail.  Mile 1:  7-flat.
Muddy taking it out at the start,
with Jonathan Short and I behind him.
(All pics by Jana, unless otherwise noted)
Runners passing the cabin in 1st loop.

Prominently displaying the WTAC!
Finishing up loop 1.

Mile 2:
Mile 2 brings you the rest of the perimeter trail along the edges of the property, a fun downhill, and then the blue trail with a few rocks back to the field where the start/finish is.  Leaving the field to start my second loop, I could see Muddy ahead of me, but with quite a gap.  Mile 2:  7:13
Dicey, but fun, bridge-crossing near end of loop 2.

End of second loop.

Mile 3:
Early in this mile we encounter the first of two two-way sections.  When more than one runner going the opposite direction of me asked if they were going the right way, I realized I erred by not mentioning the two-way short sections in my pre-race instructions.  Oops!  Assured them they were running the right way, and trekked on.  This time after going through the technical bridge/rock section at the intersection with Beth, she directed us left for a short return to the start/finish field.  This section has a short but precipitous drop to an awkward bridge crossing.  Back to the field and a short trip out-and-back on orange and we'll be done.  I tried to pick up the pace here, but Muddy was already on his way back as I was headed out.  Mile 3:  7:30.

It must be the fancy footwork on this guy
that got him the win.
(Pic by BLS)

A fun day on the trails.
(Pic by Mike B)
Final results:  21:14.  2nd of 31.  Full results here.

  • New race.
  • Race series.
  • Volunteers were awesome and runners were all upbeat.
  • Remote, contained location.
  • Use of wooden cabin for registration was great.
  • NOBODY got lost!!
  • Low number of entrants.  Keeping it relatively small is fun, but 31 is not sustainable.  Let's hope the numbers pick up a bit in future years.
  • Some runners confused with the two-way sections.  We'll get that fixed with announcements and signs for next year.
All in all, a fun race.  Next up in the series is Run for the Pumpkins on Saturday, October 8!


  1. Well done race! Ummmm I took the fancy foot work pic of Muddy :) Hopefully next year there will be more entrants! You are very welcome! I learned something (well a few things!) volunteering and that is always a bonus!!

    1. So sorry on pic credit, Beth! I fixed it. Several people sent me pics and I get confused easily in my advanced age.
      Always good to learn new things, indeed.