As promised, the second race of 5 races in the 5 Peaks trail running series was a completely different experience than the first race. Durham Forest, the host location for this event, offers a great mix of wide double track and technical, very narrow, single track trails that the course organizers took full advantage of. This year’s course had about equal distance of both wide and narrow trails. This is truly a fantastic location for a trail race. Throw in a strong thunderstorm or two earlier in the morning, which left the course soggy and muddy, and you have all the makings of a great race.
Since having goals is what motivates me to train, I set two goals for myself at the beginning of this season. When setting personal goals for trail running you can’t just say you want to run at a certain pace, finish in a certain time, or have your time be a personal best. First of all each race is a different length, but, more importantly each trail offers different levels of technical running that can have a large impact on your time or pace. With this in mind, and not really knowing what to expect I thought it would be nice to have a top three finish in my age group and a top 15 finish overall by the end of the 5th race of the season.
Having narrowly missed my goals at the first race of the season was an encouraging sign that they were at least realistic and I had a chance of achieving one or both of them. If I was going to be successful in achieving one of these goals at this race, strategy was definitely going to be a factor. The single track at Durham Forest is very narrow, tight and twisty. Add to this an abundance of poison ivy lining the trail, and passing on the single track is not only very difficult to do, but, probably not a great idea either. As a result, my strategy was to go as hard as I could while on the wider track and then settle into a more comfortable rhythm on the narrow sections of the course. With the first section of single track coming up very quickly, a fast start ( something I’m not good at ) was going to be needed. The decision to start both the sport race and the enduro race at the same time was going to make a quick start even more important , but also more difficult.
Despite not getting the good start I had hoped for and needing a sprint at the finish to preserve my place. I finished with a 3rd place in my age group and 18th overall. With one of my season goals achieved and the other moving closer, I can’t wait to see what the next race at Rattlesnake Point has to offer.