On Saturday morning I headed out to the Ganondagan site in Victor, NY to race the Old Goat Trail run. This was a last-minute decision, and I really didn’t know what to expect from the 7 mile course, as I couldn’t find results for the previous years posted anywhere. It was a wet morning, but thankfully not a hot one.
Despite all the cross country racing I do in the fall, I do very little trail racing. For those unfamiliar with the difference, generally in cross country there are no fences, logs, streams etc in your path. Some steep hills not withstanding, cross country courses are fairly fast maybe costing you 10-20 seconds per mile off your usual road racing times. As you can see from the map below, trail racing can be much slower. You may look at the elevation chart and think, well that’s not too bad, but the elevation profile only tells part of the story. As you can see, I have plenty of slow segments even on the downhills. This was due to muddy single track trails with lots of near 180 degree twists and turns. The course was listed at +/- 7 miles and it was definitely on the – side of 7, much closer to 6.5 than to 7 the Garmin really struggles on trails so who knows (or cares) how far it really was.
About 10 minutes into the race I moved into second place, and didn’t see any other runners until I started passing them going the other way around mile 5. The leader was gone way out of sight, and I was much too busy trying to find a safe place to put my foot to look behind me. I had no sense of how my pace would hold up against some of the more experienced trail racers who were stalking me such as Phil Nesbitt, so I just plugged along trying to stay on my feet.
I managed to stay on my feet the whole race (something a good number of my fellow runners apparently were unable to do) but I did lose a lot of time on some of the down hills and tight turns as I slowed to almost a walk in a few sections. Maybe in my next trail race I’ll be a bit braver, I probably could have slid down a few of the hills faster than I ran down them. I finished the race about 4 minutes behind the winner, and 2 minute in front of the 3 place runner. I’m going to have to add more trail runs to my schedule, and maybe I’ll even brave some of the longer more technical (rocky) races this fall.