Well, my goal was to finish one lap of the Traprock 50k last Saturday – and I did! I had signed up for the race well before my knee took me out of the game, but I was hoping to feel well enough to at least do one of the laps and experience the course. I’m glad I got the chance to run on some new (challenging!) trails. Here’s a little review of the race and the course….
|The start/finish area, pre-race|
The race was April 14, 2012. It was an absolutely gorgeous day!! Temps in the mid 60’s to 70, comfortable enough to start out the race at 8:30 am in shorts and a t-shirt. It was all sunshine and blue skies, an absolutely perfect day for a trail run.
The race was well organized – a big thank you to the race directors and volunteers that made it all happen, from organizing parking, check in, and the all important aid stations. Everyone was incredibly nice and supportive along the way, which always makes for a great day.
|The start – straight uphill|
|Pretty much the footing for the first 5 miles or so|
Now on to the course…. this course was no joke! I haven’t done a lot of ultras yet, but I definitely know that doing the full 50k would have been a tremendous challenge here. While the hills weren’t monstrous, the technical footing for the first half of the loop more than made up for that. The course started out with a short (50-100 yards?) flat start on the pavement that quickly went straight uphill. This was pretty steep, and all of us at the back of the pack were walking (I’m sure there were some who were running, but they were long gone from my view!! The first half of the course continued on with some rolling singletrack with a lot of steep up and down-hills, all with very technical footing along the way, mostly sharp, jutting (trap?) rocks. This made a lot of the small up/downhills feel like you were doing small sets of stairs – verrry fun with the knee. We were definitely rewarded for all of the climbing though, the views at the top were fantastic! I can’t forget to mention the “stairway to heaven” – a long rocky uphill that was literally rock stairs in the hillside. Some of these were a little loose and wiggly, which gave it a bit of a treacherous- “I hope I don’t knock one of these loose and roll backward taking out all of the runners behind me like a set of unfortunate human dominoes”- like feel. I can’t imagine doing that two more times, it was bad enough on fresh(ish) legs.
The first aid station was at around mile 3 or so, before a short little “lollipop” out and back section. You were passing the other runners up ahead as they were coming back down, so I was able to cheer everyone on and see how my friends (P.S. – great job Gary and Sarah!) were doing. The second aid station was right near the first, you hit that coming back out of the woods from the lollipop, maybe mile 4.5 or so? All of the aid stations were well stocked with happy and encouraging volunteers and the typical ultra running food (oranges, bananas, pb&j, water/heed, potato chips, gummy bears/fish, etc… nice little buffets 🙂 )
|Nice rolly singletrack in the woods 🙂|
The course continued on through the woods, with the footing easing up some and becoming much more runnable. Lots of rolling singletrack, some hills but nothing too crazy (as far as I remember… I did a lot of walking because my knee hurt so much, but I remember thinking on most of them that I definitely would have been running if I didn’t have to limp along with the gait of Forrest Gump before his leg braces came off).
|making my way down the hill to my “finish”|
The 3rd aid station was at mile 7, after a nice stretch of runnable trail. You came out of the woods onto a broken up paved road, and ran on this for about 1 1/2 miles or so. This led us back into the woods, headed back the way we first came out from the start. This was about a 1-1/2 miles of some fairly technical singletrack, with the 50k runners headed out for their second lap coming back toward us (I had my one and only trip and fall here, thankfully a nice easy landing, while I was paying attention to the other runners and not my feet!). We wound through this section and back down the steep technical hill that we started out with into the start/finish area (and aid station #4).
|Happy to be running!!|
|Quittin’ time 😦|
The course overall was a great one – very challenging terrain with some decent climbing mixed in. would have loved to be able to try the whole thing!! Unfortunately, I made my exit after the first lap… I have never dropped out of a race before, and even though I knew I wasn’t doing the whole thing from the get-go, it still sucked to have to go find someone and tell them I was dropping out! The start/finish transition area was a little confusing to me – but maybe because I knew I wasn’t going to keep going, so I wasn’t really paying attention to what you were “really” supposed to do. I think my only suggestion may be to put the aid station on the other side of the finish line -I didn’t realize you were supposed to cross the finish line when you came through (there was a timing chip on the numbers that gave a split time for each lap) – but I also have never done a multiple-lap ultra before either. I came down the hill and stopped at the food table, and finally realized I had to go across the finish line to time that lap. Putting the aid on the other side of the line might guide people across more naturally? Though it could have just been me….it might not have been an issue for anyone else.
All in all,it was a fantastic day. I got the great morale boost of running 10 miles of trails on a gorgeous day (though it may not have been the wisest choice ever… more on that to come as the recovery progresses).
Click here for a link to my garmin map and stats of the course lap if you are interested.
A big congratulations to all who participated, but most importantly (to me, anyway), congrats to Kelly on her 5th place women’s finish in the 17k (1 lap) race woo hooo!! And congrats to Gary for finishing this as his first 50k, and to Sarah for making it 2 laps of this brutal course in her first 50k attempt. Awesome job guys!!!!!!! You should be amazingly proud of your accomplishments 🙂
I would highly recommend this race to anyone who wants to try a fun, challenging trail race. There is a 10 mile (one lap) option for those who are not into the ultras as well, so no need to be intimidated by the distance 😉 This was definitely a challenging course, probably not the best for someone who is very new to trail running – you need to be a little used to some rough, technical footing for sure. I used one of my Nathan handheld bottles (quickdraw elite with a 22 ounce bottle) and that was plenty of water given the multiple aid stations. This would have been more than adequate for the whole 50k as well I think, since you could refill so often.
Congratulations and a job well done to all who participated, both runners and volunteers!!