Buck Ridge Burn Trail Half Marathon Race Report

Meditations in Motion

A few weeks ago my speedy friend Diana asked me if I would be interested in running a trail half marathon with her. I checked my calendar, decided the date worked, asked my hubby Bill if he was interested (yes!) and said I would love to. This race fit into my schedule really well. I have an intimidating 25k in two weeks, and I figured this race could serve as a tune-up.

Meditations in Motion

On a sunny, crisp April morning we set off for Gardners, PA to run Buck Ridge Burn. The race was held in Michaux State Forest in Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Parking was easy, and we walked from the parking lot about a quarter mile to the race start and packet pick up location.

 

Meditations in Motion

We picked up our bibs and race shirts in a pavilion at the day use area. Registration was quick, efficient and easy! Diana and I were very excited about the V-neck women’s shirt we got as a race premium. It is so colorful and the fit is perfect. Indoor bathrooms next to the pavilion were a plus. The race director gave us our pre-race instructions (follow the pink flags) and we cheered as the 5k runners started exactly at 9:00. The half marathoners started 15 minutes later. Bill and I decided to run together, which is always a good thing. Diana was waaayyyy ahead of us.

Meditations in Motion

We first ran across a parking lot to get to a park road. We started running uphill on the cinder/macadam road for about half a mile, then turned off into the woods. Once we were in the woods, we were running on single track with a moderate amount of roots and rocks, but it was a very run-able stretch of trail. There were a few smaller stream crossings that I managed to hop across without getting wet feet, but at about 1.5 miles, there was a larger stream to ford and my feet (and calves) got wet. The temperatures were still in the 20-degree range, so this was unpleasant for a little while, but my socks wicked the moisture and my feet warmed up before too long.

Meditations in Motion

The trails for the first part of the race consisted of rocky single track and grassy double track through very pretty spring woods. There were several places where the trail was completely covered in water and and mud, so our feet were often wet. Most of the first half of the race was uphill. We took it easy. I kept reminding myself that this was a tune-up race, and enjoyed the early sunny spring day. The aid stations were well stocked with oranges, bananas, home-made Rice Krispie treats (regular and trail mix varieties), candy, cookies, pretzels and chips. Tailwind and water were available for hydration. None of us carried food or water. We didn’t need to.

Meditations in Motion

At about the midpoint of the race, we crossed an ugly clear-cut area, which was quite a jarring contrast to the pretty forest we had been running through. We next entered a lollipop section of the course. The out-and-back section of the lollipop was sort of dicey. The path was only about a foot wide, with low bushes on either side. The trail was uneven with rocks and roots, and you had to watch for runners coming towards you from the opposite direction. There were a few places where I almost went down. When we got to the lollipop, we were rewarded with a beautiful vista next to an impressive rock outcropping.

Meditations in Motion

After the lollipop, we passed through some very pretty pine woods. We brushed little pine trees as we ran by on the path and crunched pine needles underfoot. The smell was amazing! We next turned down a trail called “Ravine Trail”. It’s name warns you, this is a tough section of the course. It was a steep and rocky downhill with lots of water seeps that made the rocks very slippery. We successfully traversed the ravine and were rewarded with some very run-able double track. The end of the race, similar the the beginning, alternated between rocky single track and smooth double track, mostly downhill. The entire trail was very well marked. I am directionally challenged, and even I could follow the flags without any issues.

Meditations in Motion

Nearing the end of the race, Bill and I were both ready to be finished. We laughed about how, at the end of many trail races, the trail seems to meander back and forth in endless loops around the woods when you really just want to run in a straight line to the finish. We crossed more streams and traversed more muddy puddles, so our feet were thoroughly soaked by the end of the race, but we knew we must be nearing the finish line. We ran across a road, down a brick path, and the finish line loomed in front of us. Bill asked if I wanted to hold hands across the line, and I agreed, so we finished laughing and holding hands.

Meditations in Motion

There was plenty of food at the finish (featuring Subway party subs) and each finisher got a small square handmade wooden plaque as a memento of the race. A two-woman band who reminded me of The Cranberries was singing and playing, and there was a fun party atmosphere surrounding the pavillion. It is a shame that it was so cold! I would definitely have hung around longer if the weather was warmer, but I just wanted dry shoes and a warm coat, which I left back in the car. We did stay for the awards ceremony. The picture above is me getting the hand-made first place age group award from the race director. The race director is an amazing young woman. I believe she made the awards and finisher’s plaques herself. She was very concerned that each racer had a good race experience (we certainly did!), and was very excited that the race sold out this year for the first time. I foresee many sell-outs for this race in the future.

Meditations in Motion

I would definitely highly recommend this race. The course is tough, with lots of mud, rocks, stream crossings, roots, and climbs, but not ridiculous. It is a trail race. The vibe is friendly and fun, the volunteers were amazing, encouraging and helpful, and the course was extremely well marked – probably the best marked trail race I have ever run. It would be almost impossible to get lost. The price was very reasonable and the aid stations were well stocked and well-placed. I have no complaints at all. I hope to do the race again next year!

 

I am joining Running on Happy, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie RunsΒ  forΒ the Coaches’ Corner linkup!

I am also linking up with Nicole and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday.

coaches corner

 

Wild Wed

I am linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run. Love these running-related blogs! Also linking up with Clean East Fast Feets for her Week in Review. Check it out for some more great reads (including some very yummy recipes!)

tuesdays on the run.png

 

week in review

 

 

 

 

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46 comments

  1. That absolutely looks like a tough course. I do trails occasionally, but I am more of a road runner. My only trail half was extremely muddy (PNW), but I knew that going in. But I’ve never had to cross a stream — knowing me, I’d fall in no matter how easy it was to cross!

    Great job on your AG award! And rice krispie treats with m&ms are making me hungry . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fun race! I would totally do this one if I lived nearby. I wish we had more trail races close by here, but in the suburbs of Chicago, it’s all pavement.

    Thanks for linking and have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Man! I’m in awe! I am still very much an aspiring runner. Great job on your finish and thanks for taking pictures. What a beautiful setting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I did not start running seriously until all of my kids had graduated from high school, and I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands. πŸ™‚

      Like

  4. Congratulations on an awesome race!! I hope to do the 5K next year, the elevation for the half marathon really scares me.

    They have another half marathon there in the summer, have you done that one?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The 5k looked like fun too. I have not done the other half that they have there, but my friend Diana did. She said it is easier than the one we did yesterday. Not as much elevation change. I would not let the elevation scare you. Walking up the hills is a good strategy! πŸ™‚

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  5. Congratulations on your finish and age group win! Your report has me stoked to run it next year! Hopefully it won’t be the same weekend as Dirty Kiln again because I have my eye on that one too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Down here in FLAT Florida… I LOVE your pictures. I didn’t even know trail running was a “thing” Ha! My husband and I love hiking and would love to rewind the time, live in beautiful terrain like you do, and take up some trail running! Thanks for sharing so we can enjoy vicariously through you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congrats on a great race and the AG win! That trail looks challenging but beautiful. I never ran a trail race where I had to get my feet what. Not sure how I’d feel about that. Love the bling and the t-shirt design.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great race, Laurie! You described the course very well. I actually thought the cut section of the forest was pretty in and interesting sort of way. The Ravine trail is my least favorite type of trail running- downhill with leaf covered rocks. It was definitely a challenging course! I’ll be back next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congrats to you all! This looks like an awesome race! I don’t know about running through all those streams though LOL, especially with the weather so cold, but it sounds like it was a fun time with great views! I would love to do a trail half someday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would have been a different post-race if the temps were higher. More festive, less shivery. If you are considering a trail half, you should try one. They are a lot of fun, and not as nerve wracking as a road half!

      Like

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