I have officially completed my longest distance race. I’m still not sure what to say about it, so…I’m just going to start this Crosscut 25k recap and see what comes out of the keyboard.
The race start/finish is at Bridger Bowl ski area, and one of the lodges was open for warm ups/bag check/bathrooms. I timed my drive perfectly – meaning I had just enough time for using the bathroom, putting on sunscreen, warming up, and going outside for the race start. I’m not into standing around before the start any longer than I have to.
We started out running on the road, then within a minute or so turned onto a trail and started going uphill. For the first couple miles we ran on the trail for a bit, then hopped on the road to cut over to a different trail, repeat. And then there were some parts that were just climbing uphill without a trail:
Around mile 2 we left the road/trail situation and headed off along some single track, still going uphill. Half a mile later the trail started downhill and continued that way through the first aid station (mile 3.5ish?) all the way to the second aid station around mile 6.
Here the course crossed into Bohart cross-country ski area and we started running on the cross-country trails. The next 3 or so miles could be described as rolling hills, but that’s not really an adequate description. The ski trails were bumpy – think potholes for your feet – but covered in mown grass so the bumpiness wasn’t obvious. Looks benign, makes you think rolling an ankle is a when not if proposition:
But I and my ankles survived the ski trails and made it the third aid station, where I downed a drink then tried to head off in the wrong direction. Thank goodness for volunteers. (I later learned that a lot of people got off course – there were flags at every turn, but there were a LOT of turns through the ski trails.)
After the aid station the trails headed up through a disc golf course and back towards Bridger Bowl. Then I kept running/walking up and up and up and…I started feeling a bit deceived by the course description. To be fair, this wasn’t the fault of the description. It said there was a “second major climb” on the way back to Bridger Bowl from Bohart. My mid-race brain interpreted “second” to mean “shorter”. Yeah, it did not say that. This uphill turned out to be 4 miles long. I have conquered longer uphills before (example: my most recent race), but I’m used to trail races where you climb all the way up then run all the way back down. So that’s mostly how I trained, and my legs felt the unfamiliarity with a long uphill preceded by a long downhill.
I reached the final aid station around mile 12.5 and finally started heading downhill to the finish. Part of this downhill was about a 20% grade with loose rocks on the trail, so I was not going as fast as I would have liked; but still ecstatic to finally be running downhill.
I crossed the finish line in 3 hours 40 minutes. I expected to take around 3:30 to finish, but I also expected to have roughly equal uphill and downhill distances. The actual split was about 9 miles uphill and 5.5 downhill. Taking that into account, my race looks more positive now than mid-uphill slog (does anything look positive mid-uphill slog?) Oh, and if you’re doing the math, yes, 25 km is closer to 15.5 miles than the 14.5 I ran. So either the course was short or I took a wrong turn after all.
Overall, I’m satisfied with my race. And the scenery didn’t hurt, obviously. For future races I would run higher mileage, train some on the course (ahem, ski trails), and have some “rolling” hills – but my main goal for this race was finishing, so mission accomplished. Reading back through this, I think I have to categorize this Crosscut 25k recap as my most rambling race recap yet. My thinking got a li’l foggy during the race (see: my interpretation of “second major climb”…and I didn’t even get into the weird math I was doing to figure out how much time I had left), so consider this your peek into my brain during a long trail race.
What’s the worst terrain you’ve run on in a race?
Longest hill (/mountain) you’ve run up?