I have a story about the race in my head, but I still wanted to put out a race report.
The 2007 Big South Fork 17.5mi Trail Race was my fifth running of this Knoxville Track Club sponsored event. It was also the 4th time that we decided to camp the night before and the first time we camped with the kids (and that is a totally different post altogether).
The race went really well. My goal time was to finish in under 3 hours, but I wasn’t sure how I would do because of the difficultly of trail running and not having run more than 10 consecutive miles (although I did have 15 miles ran in one day) all year.
We started the race at 8:30am and the first 2 miles was on gravel road before heading onto the single track trail. The weather was favorable it was comfortable, but there was no cloud cover. Typically at this time of the year, the leaves are beautiful yellows, reds and browns. But because we were short 12 inches of rain this year, the leaves were still on trees and still green. This helped with keeping the trail shaded.
Since we have been short of water all year long, the course was hard, making it much faster than normal. And it helped that leaves weren’t covering the trail as well.
Typically, for the first 7-8 miles, it’s not uncommon to run in a line with 4-5 people. This year, I ran with 5-8 people for the first 14 miles and then with 1-2 people for the last 3. This helped (ALOT) with pacing and made it much easier to get through the course when you really wanted to stop. The only problem with running like this is that you can’t see the trail very well and there are stumps, rocks and sticks that reach up to grab your feet. By my calculations at the time, at the mile 14 water station, I had a 1 minute buffer on my PR time.
Around mile 15.5 or so, I ran out of gas. Actually, my calves ran out of fuel, they would not work anymore. I was forced to stop for a few seconds and then started walking for a few feet. Once they felt better, I started shuffling again. about mile 16.75 there are ladders that you have the choice to climb up to avoid the steep, rocky trail. No matter what path you take, the ladders means that the end is near. Once I was up the ladder I knew that I could focus on “just getting to the finish line”.
I paced with and another runner, whom I been running with since about mile 14. At one point, my calves were giving out on me and I was essentially just willing my legs to move forward. I did not want to walk again since I was so close to the finish line.
I finished in 2:56:26 as the 94th out of 191 finishers. For my age group, I was 11th out of 15. In my opinion, I ran the best race that I could. Perhaps if I had some longer consecutive mileage I might not have ran out of gas, but I am very happy at my time.
My Lovely and Talented Wife took pictures at the finish line, but they are still in Stella. So I will post those when I get them downloaded.