My hubby Bill and I traveled to Downingtown, PA last evening to participate in the Trail Blazer Run five-mile trail race.
It rained all day at our house, but Downingtown is an hour east of us and we saw on the weather map they received less rain than we did. By the time we left home, the rain had slowed to a fine mist and by the time we arrived at the race location it had stopped entirely and the skies were brightening.
After picking up our goody bags and T-shirts, we looked around the pavilion and grounds where registration was held. The place was hopping!
There was a cover band playing some fine tunes…
…corn hole games set up to play…
…and the Vicory Brewing beer-mobile was getting set up for the post-race festivities.
We took our bags back to the car and pinned on our bibs. I deliberated about wearing a hat with a brim. I don’t typically like to wear a hat. Between the 6:30p.m. race start and the overcast skies, I didn’t necessarily want my eyes to be shaded when running in the woods, but there was still rain in the forecast, so I opted to wear my hat from the Hyner View Challenge trail race. It turned out to be a good decision.
After enjoying the music and chatting for a while, at exactly 6:30 we lined up at the starting line and were off.
The race began on the grass, but we quickly transitioned to a paved park road. We were on the park road for only a quarter mile, all of it downhill, before we turned onto a dirt path through the nearby woods.
While the five-mile race was the main event, there was also a 1.5-mile fun run that started at the same time. The 1.5-milers were instructed to line up behind the 5-milers at the starting line and I believe they did, but the trail was still fairly crowded for the first mile or so.
The trail, which had a few rocks and a few more roots, climbed up, up, up the hillside and Bill and I began taking walk breaks to catch our breath. Eventually, we reached the top, where it leveled off, followed by a very nice, gradual descent.
Shortly after the 1.5-milers turned off the trail to head back to the finish line, I heard a noise that sounded like something big moving through the woods. At first, I thought it was a stiff breeze blowing into the area, then I realized it was a wall of rain.
All at once, it was absolutely pouring and we were heading away from the relative shelter of the trees toward an open field. We got completely drenched as we crossed the field. I worried about lightning strikes while we ran in the open grass, but I heard no thunder, just lots of rain. The thought still spurred me to run a little faster. I was very glad I had a hat with a brim to keep the rain out of my eyes.
We entered the woods once again, but by now all the racers were soaked. The trail quickly became a muddy morass. We passed through a few more fields, then made the turn to head back to the finish line.
By this time, it was a little bit difficult to see the trail. It was evening, overcast, and raining hard.
I had to slow down on the final descent because of the treacherous footing. By now we were running in a little stream that formed on the trail and trying to avoid tripping over roots. All of the runners I saw were completely caked in mud, including Bill and me.
I felt myself slipping in the mud a few times; each time I did, I called out “Whoa!” or “Oops!” I think I may have startled Bill.
We came out into an open field, crested the final hill and saw the finish line ahead of us. I crossed in 51:31, good for first place in my age group.
When Bill read the description of this race to me before we signed up, the website described it as “challenging but fun“. That is completely accurate.
I loved the race. It was well-organized, well-run, and inexpensive, with a lot of amenities. There was plenty of food at the end of the race, bananas and typical trail running crap (including my favorite – Cheetos). The course was not too difficult by trail running standards; there were no boulders to scramble over or creek crossings, but there were enough roots and hills to make you pay attention.
The T-shirt was a tech material, women’s cut V-neck. I received a pint glass with the name of the race etched on it for my age group award. There were other goodies in the goody bag, including some bug repellant that I wish I had used before the race; I inadvertently swallowed a bug around mile three.
The free beer from Victory Brewing was delicious, an IPA (Vital) I had never tried before, a great reward for a tough race. To top off the evening, Bill won one of the many raffle prizes, a $25 gift card to Panera.
I would recommend this race to any runner. Judging from the logos I read on racers’ hats and shirts, there were many seasoned trail racers there, but this would also be a good entry-level trail race.
I am so glad I quickly signed up for this race when Hubs recommended it. We will be back next year!