Summer Intro Trail Run Race Report

In the words of Brian Warren, "Overachieved like a mofo!"
This is just a great, fun event; a nice 2.8 mile trail run at Wyandotte County Lake Park Shelter 14.  It is a nice break from the complete focus I have on long distance in my training and my races.  In fact, I hadn't run completely for speed in any run (race or training) since 10/8 last year at the Pumpkin Run 5k (flat, fast road event).  Last year this event was my first run ever on a trail; I thought it was about the hardest thing I'd ever done!!  I have since found out that although there are some fairly steep hills on the second half, this is by no means an especially challenging trail run; but it is TONS of fun!

(L to R) Mark, me, Jill & Kristy ready for the race!
This year rather than showing up as a road runner feeling out of place on the trails I showed up looking forward to seeing many of the Trail Nerds I have come to know as friends.  This race is designed for families (kind of an unofficial Father's Day run) and newbies to the trail.  It showed when the runners started to arrive.  Lots of little kids and road runners.  It was great to see the kid's enthusiasm to run a race and the anticipation of the road runners waiting to take their first stab at a trail run.  I got there early to help Ben (head Trail Nerd & race director) set up, but everything was done when I arrived so I just hung out and chatted with friends.  About 30 min before the start of the race I went out for a warm up mile on the flat lower section of the trail (the first section of the race).  I wanted to test my speed on this run so I wanted to get my heart rate up and my legs loose before the start.

We lined up for the start and got some words from Ben and were ready to go.  It was definitely less than ideal conditions to test my speed (about 81* and quite humid) but I was ready to see what I could do.  About the time Ben finished his spiel a loud bang could be heard in the background so Ben said "Well, I guess that means we're ready" and fired off the air horn and we got on our way.  We took off fast and in one big jumble of bodies (about 160 total runners in the race).  Apparently the girl that was right in front of me was a little freaked out by that because she literally stopped and covered like she was in the middle of a pack of raging bulls!  I did a pretty nice move (if I do say so myself) to avoid running her over.  We sprinted hard around a short section of road to get to the trail entrance.

Not far onto the trail I passed Ben's 10 year old grandson who had started right up at the front of the pack (he may be slightly competitive!).  He was running hard and doing quite well.  As we came up to the fork in the trail I was still feeling great and we were more or less at a dead sprint, we took the fork to the right as one of our fellow Nerds stood at the intersection and took some great pics!  As I said, this section of trail is almost completely flat and very few turns or obstacles so we were in a strong sprint almost the entire section.  I was having fun but breathing hard since I haven't tried to run this fast in quite a long time.  As we came out of the trees there is a fairly short gravel road that goes from the trail to the turn around which is fairly downhill in this direction so we were moving even faster as we passed Dick Ross from See KC Run taking pictures and then another Nerd Ryan also taking pics.  I couldn't believe how fast we had gotten to the aid station!!  We got there (a little less than half way) in 9:58!  I grabbed a cup of water and walked for a moment to get a drink and throw the cup in the trash can.  As soon as I threw out the cup I got back to running headed back to the trail, this time the road was uphill so I wasn't moving quite as fast but still feeling great.

I got back into the trees and ran the short distance from the entrance to the fork where we'd head up up to the upper trail still moving fairly quickly.  This upper section of the trail has a couple fairly steep hills, some switch backs and is a little more technical with some roots and stumps to avoid.  As I turned onto this section the humidity suddenly hit me like a freight train!!  I was drenched in sweat (big shocker to those that know me well) and kind of gasping for air after a sprint in thick air.  I know this course well since we run it every Thursday, and running it the opposite direction I knew there is a strong downhill for about the last 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile that is easily sprintable if you are comfortable on the trails so I decided to power hike the tougher uphills and save some energy for a strong finish.

As I was power hiking some of the runners that had been behind me passed me and several of them kind of scoffed at me as they went by and I was "just walking".  "Scoff all you want, I'll pass you again in a minute," I thought in my head.  I was getting my breath back pretty quickly hiking up the hills and running the flats and downhills conserving energy.  As soon as we hit the crest of the final big uphill I took off.  I was in a dead sprint down the hill only slowing to jump over obstacles as I went passed the people that had scoffed at me!  Running fast down hills on a trail is an absolute blast!  Gravity does most of the hard work, but when you're going that fast you have to be on full alert for obstacles, rocks, turns, etc.  It is fun physically to move that fast and dodge things and fun mentally to have to be so focused, alert and reacting to things in a split second.

The single greatest running picture of me ever taken. Thanks, Ryan!
As I came out of the trees onto the final stretch I was still moving pretty good and having tons of fun.  I hadn't had time to look at my watch since the start so I had no idea what my time was, I just wanted to hold a decent speed to the finish.  As I got to the finish line I still hadn't looked at the clock so I had no idea what my time was, but running fast and hard really gets your energy flowing.  I saw Dick & Ryan on the other side of line taking pictures so my excitement took over and without thinking about it I lept into the air!  It was such a fun way to cross the finish line!!

When it was all said and done, my Garmin had me at 25:10 (8:59 avg pace).  Officially I was 27th out of 159 overall, 23rd out of 82 men, and 12th out of 27 men 31-40.  I beat last year's time by 4:22, which is a pretty significant difference over just 2.8 miles (1:34 per mile better).  It's good to know that in spite of the fact that I never work on speed anymore I am still getting faster with all of my trail work and hills.  After the race I had fun chatting with my friends and watching families finish with their small children; truly a great event when you get to see that!!  We waited around for a while then Megan, Mark and I went out for an extra 6 mile run with some tough hills and picked up all the course markers to help Ben out.  It was an awesome morning and a ton of fun.  I tend to focus on marathons and ultras and the distances that go with training for those, but this small, low key 2.8 miler was just what the doctor ordered!  This is a can't miss event.


  1. I love that there's a blog about a 2.8-mile race! I volunteered at that race last year, and it was a blast. If I hadn't had a long training run at Clinton on Saturday then I would've raced it as well. The coolest thing I thought was the number of parents bringing their kids out to run on the trails. I've always thought that more parents need to do that in general - finding a way to be active with their kids - and the 2.8 run is a fantastic opportunity that a lot of parents take advantage of. Fun for the big kids and little kids alike.

    Also, I'm jealous of your finish line photo. That's some serious hang time!

  2. Bryan....any advice for a beginning trail runner? Love your blog.


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