There are 2 things that I think that the readers of this blog should know about me. The first is that I like to challenge myself to do hard things and the second is that I can be talked into just about any race is they are offering the right kind of swag. These two things are what led me to find myself at the start line of Beaver Chase Urban Trail half marathon earlier this month. Racemaker, the company that hosts the race, has hosted several races that I have done in the past and they always do a fantastic job. Once I saw the participant shirts and finisher medal’s, I knew this is a race that I wanted to participate in.
The issue with this race is the course. It is on two cross country courses connected by the Urban Wilderness Trail and also has about a 1K section that runs through a wooded path. So the course is all grass, sand, and crushed limestone, with several “obstacles” such as logs, rocks, concrete barrier things and a couple pretty huge hills. There was not one step of this course that was on pavement. I have actually ran on this course before (during last year’s Turkey Trifecta) and knew that it is a tough course to run on. For me personally it seems to be particularly hard on my ankles and knees,
This race consisted of a quarter marathon (6.55 miles) loop that the half marathon runners ran twice and the full marathon runners ran 4 times. My first loop went fairly well. I started by twisting through a cross country course that ran toward the wooded section. Once I ran down the hill into the wooded section I hit a path that was mostly sand. I felt like I was still able to keep up a pretty good pace through this area but did have to slow down a little to climb over a some pretty large logs. Once leaving the wooded area I met the first large hill that I needed to climb. I had to walk up this hill as it was pretty steep. Once at the top of the hill, I found myself back on the course country course and made my way back toward the start line. Once I got almost back to the start area, the course then went back down a hill similar to the size and steepness of the one I had climbed coming out of the wooded area.
At the bottom of the hill was the Urban Wilderness Trail. This is mainly crushed limestone but did have some challenging areas that included some large rocks and other uneven surfaces. I found myself on this trail for a good little while (don’t ask me the mileage haha) until finally I found myself at the entrance of the second cross country course. This course had ground that was a lot more uneven than the first one and also had a couple hills (although nothing like the first one that I had climbed!) There was a spot on the course where I could see the water station at the entrance/exit to the course and thought I was close to returning to the crushed limestone and start heading back to the start area, only to find that the course made another turn and went out further than I had thought.
I did finally make it out of the second cross country course though and made my return to the start area on the Urban Wilderness Trail. This is the part of the trail that I struggled with most on both of my loops. We ran this same trail on the way out to the course and so I don’t know if running to right side of the way back to let others pass made the return trip back tougher but the ground felt super uneven and I felt my foot landing in holes, etc. When I made it back to where I could hear the finish line and knew I was close, I was met with one more large hill to climb up. I finished my first loop in 1:10:28 and set out on lap number 2.
My second lap was pretty uneventful and I finished it in 1:24:50. In the last two miles I found myself arguing with myself in my head because part of me really wanted to walk but the other part of me just wanted to keep running so I could get to the finish line and eat something. I carried several gels with me and intended to take as I do for most half marathons but I never really felt comfortable enough to take my attention off of my footing because I did not want to fall (and ya’ll that know me know that I am good at falling when I run!) My official finish time was 2:35:19 and I am thrilled with that time especially with the difficulty level of this course!!! I have some fast friends too and my friend Heather placed 1st in our age group! It was great to see so many friendly faces out on the course and that has become one of my favorite parts of being part of the running community locally!
So while this course was challenging and one that I was not super looking forward to tackling, I have to say that it wasn’t as bad as I had thought and the race swag and miles earned were well worth it!!!