Some how it seemed appropriate that my last race in Rochester would be a trail race. 🎶Happy Trails🎶 and all that silliness. On Saturday July 18th I ran the 0 SPF Trail Half Marathon for the second year in a row. It once again was the USATF-Niagara Trail Championship race. Despite running slightly slower than last year I moved up a few spots from last year to claim the win this year.
It was a brutally hot and muggy day, only slightly mitigated by the fact it was run mostly in the shade. I knew early on the last few miles were going to be a grind, but I set a pretty aggressive pace early with the hope of putting some distance between me and the other racers.
By the turn around I’d only managed to gap the field by 45 seconds. I was sure I had a bigger lead, but the out and back doesn’t lie and all I could do was keep pushing the downhills and the flats. Pushing the uphills was out of the question, all I could manage on those were a slow shuffle or a quad burning walk. Not only was it getting hotter as the race wore on, but the trail soaked by predawn thunderstorms had because a muddy mess having been trod on by 150 runners.
At each road crossing and aid station I strained to hear the volunteers cheer for the runners chasing me. Each time I was certain I heard them less than a minute back. That is one of the many oddities of trail racing, it is very difficult to tell where the other runners are. A quick glance back usually only reveals trees, a long look back will land you on your ass in the mud. In the end I was being chased by ghosts, or maybe wood sprites. It was 6 minutes after I crossed the finish before the next runner arrived. It was the woman who won the Rochester Marathon last fall, Laine Sefick, who must have run a hell of negative split to pass that many people on the way back. She was followed closely by Sarah Loerch and then the 2nd place male Nathan Bonham. Results Here.
The 8 years I spent racing around the roads, tracks and trails of Western NY have been some of the most rewarding if not occasionally painful years of my life. I had a chance to meet so many wonderful people. Some were teammates, some were the competition and some were both.
A few years back I made a post lamenting the loss of so many talent teammates. Since that post we have lost even more runners (including now me) but we have added so many more. Roadkill Racing has grown beyond what Mike and I ever imagined it could both in sheer numbers and accomplishments. I leave knowing the team is in secure hands.
Happy trails, and roads, and tracks.