|Watching the finishers, (lights), come in at the end of the Ready Set Glow Trail Run, Saturday, October 8, 2016.|
I run a lot in the early morning, so using a headlamp is pretty common for me, especially this time of the year. But, typically as I run, the sun is coming up and so by the time I am done, I am in the light and have often seen the sunrise. But, the Ready Set Glow Trail Run was a different experience Saturday night. Instead of running into the coming daylight, we'd be waiting for it to go down before we even started and then would head off into the woods where there were lots, (LOTS!) of tripping hazards!!! Normal, daytime, trailrunning has the same tripping hazards, but at night, you have to watch for them with the eyes of an eagle while running at the speed of a gazelle...or in my case, perhaps a fast elephant...
One of my boys and I drove down south of Victor, NY, to Dryer Road Park and arrived as the sun was still going down. The Ready Set Glow Trail Run is a race put on by the Trails Roc running group that I have run with several times this past summer. Eric and Sheila Eagan head it up and had plenty of solid volunteers helping them in the dark. Now I've directed several races, and there are always a ton of things to be concerned about, but directing a race in the dark, with very little natural or artificial light to help you, that's an additional challenge, and I'd say based on my experience, Sheila and Eric did a very good job Saturday night.
|In our BibRave Orange waiting for the sun to go down and the race to start @ 7:35pm. Headlamps are mandatory.|
The race started in the soccer fields, the opening lane being "flagged" by flashing glow sticks. The rest of the course was continually marked by orange flags, as well as the occasional glow stick. That said, it was very easy to go off course in the dark since you can't plant a flag every few feet over a 5 mile course nor expect staff to do so. Therefore, you really had to pay attention out of the edges of your periphery vision for flags while also looking directly in front of you for tripping hazards, especially roots and short stumps, while also looking down the course and at the person/people in front of you.
Once we got onto the trails, it seemed like the roller coaster of ups and downs was pretty continuous with a lot of switchbacks. Note the map below:
|The course for the Ready Set Glow Trail Run, courtesy of www.trailsroc.org|
Even after the "Upper Field" stretch of open field as we dove back into the forest, people were going off course. I found myself jumping up several people due to this and actually running by myself a little bit away from a smaller group of people. Running alone in some ways that first mile or so might have been good, as I could just concentrate on my own race without pressure ahead or behind me. This would change as I got closer to one of the other runners in front of me.
The two of us ran together for probably a couple of miles of the course, with him stumbling a few times, as well as myself. This seemed to occur more as the train of lights on a large group of people seemed to ever near but never catch us for what seemed like an eternity. With all the switchbacks, we kept seeing the group behind us and I thought for sure they'd catch us in all the hills, switchbacks, and tripping hazards, but we held them off for quite a while. I think it was on the Owl's Maze section (or maybe it was Juicy Bacon) where we would not only switch back and forth with the group right on our heels while also going up and down in every turn like a banked race course. Somewhere on one of the flatter sections, (which there were few of), I hit a root/stump just right that I caught my balance but felt like I hyper-extended my back. (It literally felt like my back stretched along the spinal column.) Shortly after that, I could feel it in my right upper hip and then my right foot, where I have had some plantar fasciitis recently, went numb off and on a couple of times. My running uphill seemed like shuffling occasionally, especially as we climbed up the elevator. The group behind us seemed fine with the two of us in the lead hiking rather than running it. We almost went off course once, but caught it quickly. Then, at the top of the hill as we exited the forest, we unfortunately started to turn back into the woods at the top instead of going into the fields. Again, we caught ourselves withing 30 feet or so, but I ended up behind the whole group I had been helping to lead and lost several spots!!! All the time I felt like I had had this train of lights behind chasing me and we had held them off until almost the end, and then have it get messed up with less than a mile to go!!! Ugh!!! I think I would have finished around 15th +/- if not for that. Oh well!!!
As we came through the final section of forest, we ended by running through the sports fields once again and racing down the black top to the finish line. My son was already done and came in 4th place! I was 21st out of 87 and attribute much of that to good route finding in the first 4 miles. If I'd been quicker to catch the flags at the top of the final hill I might have been as high as 13th. Next year I guess! Amazing, considering I think my pace was like 13 min/mile!!! 2016 Ready Set Glow Trail Run Results
Thanks to the Trails Roc group for putting on a great race!!! Definitely a different nature of a race when you running in the dark! Pretty cool! Try it out some time, you won't notice the hills as much because you'll be looking for flags, stumps, and lights more than anything else!!! Enjoy!