Ever since running the New South Trail Marathon in North Carolina back in March, I have been itching to do another trail race. I love the woods and the outdoors so when I can combine that with running, it is a win / win in my book. Much to my excitement I found out about a local trail race held in Winchester, VA in late July only a short drive from my home!
The 8k For MS Trail Race helps raise awareness about Multiple Sclerosis with 100% of the profits going to help the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It starts off at one of the Millbrook High School football fields and runs along the trails of the Third Battle of Winchester Battlefield park. Measuring at just under 5 miles this seemed like a perfect local trail race to take part in.
Waking up the morning of the race I felt a little stiff, which was most likely from having done a 16 mile long training run the day before. My plan for the trail race was to really just get out there and “run for fun”. I was not going to worry about placing or time, but only enjoy the race environment along the trails. The weather was also very nice for a July morning…overcast and not too humid.
All the runners gathered at one end of the football field to start the race. I recall the race director informing us that there were several trees down across parts of the trail, so to be careful. I didn’t think much of this living in the woods myself…and assumed they were exaggerating the size of the trees. I’ll get back to that in a moment.
The first half of the race went along the smoother parts of the trail in a shady area of the woods and through an open portion of the battlefield. Once we got going my legs didn’t seem to mind much as I picked up the pace seeing I was towards the front of the pack to start. Around the halfway point of the race, things got interesting (in a fun challenging way).
This is where the race course began to run through the rougher portion of the trails…winding up and down, in and out, with sharp turns in and out of the woods. At one part of the course which was an out and back route, the trail was so narrow that you really had to make sure you didn’t run into oncoming runners! One part of the course was also not marked too well as a younger boy in front of me veered off course. I yelled for him to come back as I passed him.
There were two significant hills with steep inclines which allowed me to pass several runners (thanks again to the hill running at home on the mountain). Then came the trees blocking the course. The race director was right…they were BIG trees. Thankfully I was able to hurdle over both of them, falling two time but catching myself and not sacrificing any time (remember is is not IF, but WHEN, you will fall on a trail run).
Coming to the clearing I found myself right behind two other runners. I could tell we were about a 1/4 mile from the finish and all three of us were increasing our pace. I caught one of them, but not the other. I crossed the finish line with a time of 40:48:53 finishing 10th overall (out of 130) and top male in my age group! (Note: another runner in my age group finished ahead of me but he was in the top five overall.)
I want to give a shout out to the runner that I passed on the home stretch. In looking at the results I saw he was 57 years old. Incredible. If I am hanging towards the front of local trail races when I am in my upper 50s, I will definitely be doing something right.
Overall: 10 of 130
Male 30-39: 1st Place