The fourth installment in this year's series proved to be quite different than races in the same park in the past. The majority of the course was double track or fireroads. However, EX2 saved the best for last and the final two miles were on some very fun and fast singletrack. Gone were the two rather steep and long climbs within the last half-mile, they were replaced by a gradual long climb in the last quarter-mile!
The course ran very fast. The start included a six-tenths of a mile prologue on the road to stretch out the runners on an out and back loop. I re-crossed the start line with the lead group at something like 2:45 - very fast. Prince William Forest Park is comprised of a series of draws and hills based around some creek drainages which make for interesting racing. The downhills are sharp and quick and the climbs (generally!) short but steep. One of the interesting highlights is crossing the swinging bridge, you cross it twice during the race. It is much more enjoyable on the second crossing when less people are on it at once!
I ended up placing fourth on the day with a time of 35:29 for five miles and change of racing. However, because I was able to consistently finish in the top two or three during the other races I was able to take the series prize. This was difficult because the competition was stiff and it only takes one bad race to blow your chances.
The good thing is that I can now focus on long slow runs and not have to worry about a six day taper/train period. I have a few weeks before my next race - the 24 Hour Adventure Trail Run on 1 May, 2010; between now and then I will be out logging some real mileage.