My friend from the UK was going to be in town, and he had found this local race in Asheville, NC, so I figured that I joined him. It helped that I had only managed one run that week, so I already tapered for the race! It was a bare-bones trail run. No pressure, and something different. He ended up not being able to make it due to a flight re-direct due to weather. I made the drive up, overshot the race location by a few miles because of a questionable address on the website (someone else had done the same thing, so I wasn’t the only one). Parking was right next to the road, so others who came along afterwards could probably tell where to stop more easily. As I waited for the race start, I even found a geocache right at the entrance to the park, like 20 feet away from where I parked! Score! My first one in NC.
It was a small race that had gotten some news coverage, so their turnout was higher than expected, at around 55. The course was two x 5-mile figure-8s, with an aid station in the middle of the 8 that you’d pass 4 times. The race start was a long and steep uphill, and I’m typically slow on uphills. There was a 5-miler going on at the same time. Everyone was tentative about starting at the front, because it was nearly single-track, and you didn’t want to be the one holding everyone up. I tried to stay way to the side, even though I was at the front.
As we headed out, the hard uphill began. I got passed, as expected… fortunately, this part was wide enough to pass. The path got narrow. At some points, the single track was waaay narrow, with a big dropoff on the side – tedious! It’s a great trail to have accessible for locals, but they must be rolling the dice on not tripping and falling off the side, each time they go on a run here.
I passed another person back, then was behind two other people for a good chunk of the 2nd 8th of the race. At first, it was good to have them keep my pace reasonable so that I didn’t overdo it. I had exerted myself way too much during the 1st 8th of the race trying to not hold up those behind me too much. After a while, though, especially on the dowhills where I had to brake a lot to not run into them, I asked to pass – freedom! From there, I caught up to another person.
I was wearing my Salomon S-Lab trail racing shoes. I had raced a large-gravel trail 10K in them before, and they stayed on well. I was careful to try to keep the pull-down laces well tucked. I had snagged the lace on a root in an early section of the race, though, so it was flopping a bit. In the 4th 8th of the race, on a thankfully slightly wider (maybe 1.5 shoulder widths) and flat portion of the trail, I stepped on the loose lace and totally ate it. My right knee and my palms got cut up, with a couple of scrapes on my belly, too. Good thing I fell forward, and not to the side! I hoped that I hadn’t done my knee any permanent damage. I was in shock and in pain for the first couple of minutes, and I stood by the side of the trail and recovered. One of the guys that I had passed, passed me back. I started jogging again, slowly. It may be like that for the rest of the race…
I finished the first loop, and back up the big hill. I was doing a more normal running motion again. Back around the previously encountered trails, checking out my wounds as I ran. Lots of dirt in the wounds. My motivation for keeping going during the 2nd 5-mi loop was finishing quickly so that I could get the race done and get the wounds cleaned up.
It was hard to tell how I was doing, position-wise, since you didn’t know how many were doing the 5er, and how many were doing the 10er. The finish was as steep down as it was up, but it was a good feeling to finish. Not the best-paced race, and the fall certainly added a few minutes, but I finished 1st for the women! I was happy to grab some water and try to clean up the wounds a bit. No antibiotics, though… I want to minimize the chance of drug resistance.
The race had a fun, casual atmosphere. Instead of medals, they had cute/unique pirate figurines with black ribbons on them. That fit the theme of the race, and it’s cool to have something fun other than a medal every now and then. The prize was a big pirate flag, which was also creative.
After the race, I went into downtown Asheville and did a quick geocache grab. I would’ve explored a bit more, but parking is so expensive there! 5 cents = 3 minutes…. I know it’s not much, but mentally, it doesn’t seem right… a money-eating machine. I ran to the cache, in order to make it back to the car in time. I had found a couple of coins on the ground at the race, which made me feel better. I actually found an Arizona flag keychain trackable at the cache and took it with me to the car. But when I looked up its mission, I saw that it was racing similar-looking flags back to Arizona, and I figured that Asheville got more traffic than where I’m from, so I left it there. Fun idea, though.
After that, I did a few more caches, before going to Highland Brewing Co for a tour.
RACE RESULT: 1:33:22, 9:20 ave.