The course for this weekend's race is at Fountainhead Regional Park, which is situated along the banks of the Occoquan Reservoir in Western Fairfax County. This park is beautiful and feels surprisingly remote for being so close to Washington D.C. The racecourse consists mostly of hiking trails (including the Bull Run Occoquan Trail), horse trails, and old dirt roads.
This is a moderately technical and fast course. The race begins in the main parking lot and runs down the paved entrance road for approximately a half-mile over rolling hills. The course then dives offroad and runs along some excellent singletrack over a wooded ridgeline. A short but sharp descent brings the racers to an intermittant stream crossing with its subsequent climb. Last year there were a number of tumbles at this creek crossing. The course then climbs out of the draw and loops through more of the scrub oak forest before merging back into the ridgeline where you run out the same way the track entered the woods.
Once crossing the entrance road the course follows alongside the road for a little ways before going back into the farther reaches of the park. The race course from there until the finish is a series of rolling ups and downs with numerous stream crossings. The course feels very isolated on these back stretches because the numerous draws keep the majority of runners out of view from each other.
After dropping down to run beside the Occoquan Reservoir for a short distance the final stretch climbs quickly back up to the ridge top and runs over a few small hills before bursting out of the woods and literally directly into the finish chute.
Hopefully the weather will hold and it will be cool yet dry this Sunday. Stay tuned for the race report.