Race Recap: TARC Fall Classic Trail Half Marathon

The weekend before last I ran a trail half marathon. I didn’t race it; I ran it with three other people from my regular trail-running group, and we decided to run together and treat it as a long run rather than race it.

It was a good decision. I can get really competitive, but just two weeks before, I’d run a half marathon that I wasn’t really prepared for. I was sore for a few days. I know doing that sort of thing isn’t ideal (if you do it repeatedly, at least), and here I was, two weeks later, facing another half–but this time on trail.

I’m certainly used to trail running, but the longest trail race I’d run thus far was a ten-miler.

Trail runners really know how to put on a race. For one thing, it’s about eight million times more laid-back than a road race. No sponsors handing out cheap gizmos (water bottles, frisbees, etc.). No shiny gear. Potluck post-race (not kidding: the race organizers provided sandwiches, water, and boiled potatoes; runners, depending on first initial of last name, were to bring sweets, salty things, fruit, or drinks).

The food tables were bulging.

But since we couldn’t touch it ’til after the first loop, we ate some gu’s before the race. Did I mention I hated strawberry-banana? Well. I will let the pictures speak to how much I like the flavor (answer: hated it more than I thought I would).

Happy and ready to eat some gu.

OMG I cannot do this.

Oh yeeeeechhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I really hate this flavor.

 I braved my way through it. Fortunately, I had plenty of other flavors. And they had chocolate gu at the food table! It tastes like chocolate frosting! It is my new favorite running thing.

 The race started a little late because there were still people in line for the port-a-potty. I am not kidding. When was the last time you were at a race and in the bathroom when the gun went off? (OK, maybe this has only happened to me.) Nope. These guys decided to give everyone a chance to go.

The trail was winding and loopy and largely self-monitored. Race distances were 10K, half marathon, full marathon, and 50K (the race was a 10K loop; the people running the “mile” races did an extra loop or two around a cornfield to make up the distance difference).

At about mile 4, I got really hungry. I ran ahead a little but wanted to stay with my friends. We finished the first loop, which–yes–put us squarely at the food tables. Awesome! Time to stop and eat!

And eat we did, which is how I found out about the goodness of chocolate gu. The second lap, I wanted to speed up, but we’d agreed to stay together. A—— fell behind, but the other three of us decided to be super-corny and cross the finish line holding hands.

The finish line was a guy at a table recording times while someone else yelled out the runner’s bib number. I don’t even know where the actual finish line was or why the three of us had a 20-second difference in our times even though we finished holding hands. 

It doesn’t matter. The energy and spirit of a trail race are so laid back and fun. I’ve done snowshoe races with the same feel, but didn’t realize regular trail races were so mellow and spirited, too.

Some ultra runners came through the food table area and stopped to eat for a while. Others grabbed a handful of pretzels and kept on running. F—— and I wanted to do another lap, but we’d all driven together and the guys were ready to head out.

Happy Team Pancake, pre-race.    
Happy team, post-race.

We’ll be back next year. Maybe for the ultra.

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