The Double Trouble 15K/30K Trail race was held today at the French Creek State Park. All the usual suspects were in attendance and there was a large field of talented elite runners that made the trip for this event. The race was what I would consider "typical" in almost every way. 1) Ron started the race late. 2) Derek was on hand to take pictures. 3) I lumbered along being generally annoyed that so many fast people decided to attend yet another race I was running.
But there was an unusual phenomenon that occurred today. For some unknown reason, a huge number of trail runners made sudden and violent impact with the ground. I have never seen so many people bloodied and bruised during a single event. This absurd scenario wasn't restricted to the inexperienced, uncoordinated, or intoxicated. Even talented trail runners were falling victim to the compelling gravitational pull that seemed somewhat over exaggerated at French Creek today. It started in the first 200 yards when I hurdled over the body of a young lady that made a face plant directly in front of me. From that point on...bodies were dropping all around me. Even my poor wife "fell" victim to this...
In an effort to pad my personal race statistics, I invited as many inexperienced trail runners as I could for the Sunday race. My intention of course, is to convince these people that trail running is easy and it's really just a big party in the woods with some light recreational running mixed in. As a result, I was able to convince my intern and one of my engineers to join Jo and I at the race. Neither had ever been in a trail race before, and because my invite came on Thursday, neither had even considered training for the distance or the conditions. "Not to worry" I assured them. "It's easy".
To my surprise, they both did very well and finished with smiles on their faces. I was very happy to see Aaron and Shasta cross the finish line together, side by side, trying to edge each other out over the last 100 yards. Trail running brings out the best in people.
The most amazing thing about trail running is the people. I can share the trail for 1 mile with a total stranger and become life long friends with that person. It's as if every race is an epic journey that you share with like minded people, and that journey creates a bond that will last forever. This might sound implausible, but it's reality. All of my best friends are people I met on the trail and they will be my friends forever, bonded together by a common love and respect for our sport and the fantastic lifestyle it provides. This truth is evident after every race when we choose to socialize for 4 hours while discussing a race that lasted for 90 minutes. This doesn't happen in any road race, anywhere in the world. We're a different type of athlete and I love it.
I limited my day to the 15K because I'm trying to be mature about my running, which seems to be a constant struggle for me. I made Derek Schultz promise to tackle me at the end of the first loop if it appeared that I might head back out for another 15K. True to his word, Derek shoved me across the 15K finish line, thereby ending my day. Good friends are hard to find, and I always know I can count on Derek.
It's exciting and intimidating to know that the next trails I run on will be in Leadville. And those trails will be at an oxygen depleting elevation that will certainly tax my body and test my limits. But I think I'm prepared for this test and am looking forward to the challenge. It's made easier by the great group of friends here at home that I run and train with. The support and encouragement makes all the difference in the world and I want to do well for myself, and for all of the people that have helped me.
On to Leadville....