Saturday was Steep Ravine. This is a pretty well known hiking trail. The race also hooks up with the Dipsea trail which is known in running lore for the The Dipsea, the oldest trail race in the states. It started in 1905. Anyway, I mentioned on RWOL that I was running Steep Ravine and someone said, wait, I've hiked that trail, isn't there a step ladder? Why yes. Yes there is a step ladder. It's interesting to climb a step ladder while running a race.
You can see the course map here and the elevation chart is so lovely to look at:
I didn't have much of a plan going into this. Usually, I look over last year's results and try to figure out where I should be placement wise. This was new territory for me since I've never run a trail half and they had changed the course from last year. The course is now much more challenging.
When we got going I felt like every one had really bolted out. The field wasn't that big, less than 200 people. I tried to settle in, obviously, we go straight up from the get go. Oh and for the next 4 miles. I tried to just settle in and be mindful of my foot falls. This trail is much rockier and rootier than other trails I've run on out here. Not to mention the step ladder, ducking under fallen trees and some tiny streams.
The trail splits from pink to a yellow loop right after the aid station/check point. There was some confusion on which direction to go to the check point. After some discussion with the pack I found myself in, we decided to go right, which did lead us to the aid station. I know there can be some lingering at aid stations on trail runs but I like to just keep at it so I gulped down some sports drink and split. I was now with just 1 other guy bombing the down hill section. It is so much fun to go from 13-15 minute miles to 7-8 minute miles.
For a while, I wasn't sure I was going the right way. I could see the trail markings and I was going counter clockwise as we had been instructed but I didn't see anyone else. There were 5 races going on with variations on route so there were people all over the place just no one near me. Then some guys come flying by the other way and tell me I'm going the wrong way. I was pretty sure I wasn't and had already decided if I was, it was just going to loop back to where I needed to be and I wasn't turning around.
After a couple of miles I saw Loren. She was with a pack and said "hi, we're going the wrong way, you're going the right way so keep going".
There were a lot of confused people out there in them woods. Some poor 7 mile folks ended up doing 10 miles, some 12. I'm not really sure how they got so turned around.
I got confused again when it came to getting back to the aid station. At this point, I was with 2 other people, a man and a woman. The woman was like, ok, he's really fast, let's send him ahead to make sure this is right. He called back to us and we were going in the right direction.
Once I got back to the aid station/check point I was surprised to find Loren there. She decided since she went the wrong way and cut the course she would wait for me at the aid station so we could run the last 3 miles together and she'd DQ herself at the end.
A lot of people went off course. After the fact, the RD went back to check the course and saw that the directional arrows were no longer there, causing the confusion. He counted everyone and gave everyone race credit (there's a points competition that goes on through out the year) and adjusted times for the short course.
I am pleased with my results. While it took me a lot longer than I had expected, I set a half marathon personal worst and a trail half marathon person best with a time of 2:36:52
Overall 47 out of 172
women 8 out of 78
AG 2 out of 21
Even though Loren asked not to be counted she finished right behind me for 3rd in AG. That may never happen again. I'm sure if she hadn't waited for me she would have been 2nd woman. She gave herself a nice 15 minute handicap waiting for me at the aid station.
It was a tough run but I had a lot of fun. I'm enjoying this for now. I'm sure at some point I'll start setting different goals and go back to more road racing. After all these years of running, I just need to mix it up a bit.
In other news, our other trail running partner in crime Barb aged up for this race and nabbed 3rd in her age group in her debut race. Way to go Barb!