I ran this race last year and what a different experience it was this year!
Like last year, Hank ran the 4 mile option, though it was closer to 4.4 miles this year. He didn't want to do his own race report but just wanted to say he had a fun run, and he was glad it didn't rain too hard.
I'll just cut to the chase and tell you I had a darn good time with this race. It was hard work for sure, but my mental state throughout the race was excellent.
My plan was to use this as a training run. So that meant I would start off slow and ease up from there. I was looking to run 11ish or slower miles and to happily walk the brutal hills. I lined up at the back, starting chatting with the folks around me and talked pretty much the whole race with anyone nearby. I'm sure there were folks who either dropped off or sped up because I was so chatty!
As diabolical as the course is, it really is a nice mix of trail and roads, and you can't beat the scenery in this area. We've had a lot rain lately and both the Potomac and Shenendoah rivers have been at/near flood stage. Harpers Ferry is at the confluence of these rivers so flooding would have been an issue for the race organizers. Thankfully they didn't have to worry about it.
The first major uphill is from lower old town to upper old town. The picture below doesn't really do it justice because it's about a mile from top to bottom. There was a woman on her porch cheering for us, "Keep going! The hill really does have an end!"
It was on this hill last year that my brain fizzled and popped. This year I ran about half way up and then walked the rest. Got to the top and started running again. Happy!
I happily plodded along for the remainder of the course and crossed the finish in 2:27 and change...about 6 minutes faster than last year. How funny is that! I have to say I also felt sooo much better after this race, no weird foot issues or leg cramps. yay!
Now if I can hang on to this mindset and just roll with whatever my runs bring me, I'll be golden!
My thoughts on
Price: It was $60 to register the day before (my bad) which I think is a bit steep, but they let kids under 18 run the 4 mile for free and kids always run the 1 mile for free.
Course: Very challenging hills, nice mix of trails and road. Well marked. Lots of enthusiastic course marshalls and volunteers
Food on the course: The stations later in the course seemed to be just water (though I may have missed a Gatorade stop somewhere). I'm not a big drinker (unless it's wine), but it was warm and very humid out so a shot of Gatorade would have been nice. They also had Hammer gels which make me sick so I didn't partake.Because of my stomach issues, I almost always carry my own fuel so it wasn't an issue for me.
Atmosphere: Party time. It's fun to run with folks who love to run for fun. [say that 3 times fast]. Mark Cucuzzella and his staff from Two Rivers Treads are enthusiastic to say the least. What I really love is that the races they're a part of are fun for the whole family. They cheer very loudly when kids cross the finish line, and every kid gets a medal...who doesn't love that!
Post Race: The post race food was pizza and beer, oh and some apples, oranges and Gatorade too. I'm grudgingly gluten free so I ate 2 apples and drank a bunch of Gatorade. I found a Lara bar in the bottom of my bag so I ate that too. But the rest of my family was gorging themselves. Bill had to go to work so he had to pass on the beer.
Swag: Since I didn't pre-register I had to stop by the reg table after I ran to see if any shirts were left. Men's medium was the smallest size left. Sadness, but again not a big deal to me. The medal is a replica of John Brown's armory in Harpers Ferry so the history geek in me thinks that's pretty cool.
Fun race. Fun atmosphere. I definitely recommend it as a nice change from a boring ol' flat road race. ;)