Sunday dawned cold and slightly overcast with winds gusting to 20mph. The temperature at race time was about 38f with the windchill around 31f - freezing my bare legs. After check-in and number pick-up. I started my warm up with a nice jog from the parking lot down to the marina and around the lake side. I was warmed up by the time I got to the truck and stretched out almost right up until race time. My boss has been running the same series as well - except he is running the 10 mile races. We are both signed up for a half-marathon to finish our season off on 12 December down in Fredricksburg, VA - The Blue and Gray HM. It runs from downtown over the battlefield and back. Sounds like a good time!
The wind was ripping by the time the race started so when the siren sounded I was ready to run. It had rained for three days straight so the course was trashed - the creeks were full, the hills muddy, and all the rocks covered with lots of leaves. Trail racing at its finest! This race course's prologue was about a half-mile down a rolling paved road. It was very fast. I was in the first break of about 15 runners when we turned off the pavement into the woods. The trail was fast down to the first main creek crossing, the far side of which was mud puree! Made for an interesting climb up - I could only imagine what it would be like after the pack got through there. It was a quick few rolling up and down hills and back onto the ridge for a slight uphill climb to the road crossing.
After crossing the road the trail turns along the paved road and follows it for about a half-mile over mostly even but winding track. This portion ran fast. The course turned back into the woods and the next three and a half-miles would be in the back reaches of the park, great isolated cold and windy trail running on superb singletrack.
There were a few very steep but fast descents - they all ended dead into creeks and water crossings. This made for some chilly hooves on my part - thankfully I had wore my gore-tex shoes. By the time the trail winded its way to the final mile it dropped steeply back to the reservoir and proceeded to climb a longish winding trail up to a rolling ridge. Some needle packed singletrack and then a hard left turn brought me to the finish chute with a 6th place finish.
Overall my race was good and I really enjoyed it. Although the lead-out was fast I recovered my wind by the road crossing. I cruised at a very solid pace during the next three and half miles until the last half-mile where I really started to charge home - running up the large hill in good form. I am not sure how I slipped to sixth place. I was only passed once - and by a ten mile runner (they have red numbers).
Now the mark is set for the last race. I am tied for fourth overall and the third place finisher is only one point ahead. So the final race in three weeks will be a real race. Lots of speedwork will be the order of the day!