Hope you had a fun weekend! 🙂 Today’s post is my mom’s recap of volunteering at a trail race last week. I’ve never run a trail race before, and I’m jealous of how fun it sounds.
Trail races are so much fun AND a great way to enjoy the lovely seasonal foliage. The club Nora and I have been running with organizes a great one called the Town Forest Trail Race, which was held just this weekend.
The race offers 2 different distances: a 3.4 mile, and a 9.5, though both take you through the beautiful trails in Groton, Massachusett’s Town Forest.
I’ve run the 9.5 the last couple of years, but decided that this year I would just volunteer. Nora’s dad came with me and we reported at 9:30 sharp to help set up the refreshments – which we all know are an extremely important part of any race. (Right up there with the free swag!)
We set up coffee and cider, and all the usual stuff like bagels and bananas, but our club has some pretty awesome bakers so we had things like pumpkin whoopie pies, and caramel topped brownies, too!
When we were done with that, we went out to help with the parking (always a bit of a challenge when the race course is not exactly in an urban setting). Luckily, we parked everyone without any difficulty and even left enough space for the horses to get back into their trailers. (No, the horses were not race participants, though we had some other four-legged racers!)
Afterwards, we went out to get our course-marshal assignments. Because the two courses overlapped in spots, this involved moving yellow tapes across some of the trails after the runners had passed. (The year before an EMT vehicle had knocked down our tapes, resulting in lost and annoyed runners, so we were determined that everything would go smoothly this year. ) Once the tapes were in place, we went back to the start, to direct the runners through the first “crossing”.
And they were off!!! The 9.5 racers sped off at 12:30 with a small black dog in the lead, and the 3.4 mile racers took off ten minutes later, heading down a different trail.
We jogged after them, to move the tapes to the appropriate places and then settled in about a half mile from the finish to cheer on the runners.
Despite the difficult terrain, (rocks and roots covered by leaves with steep climbs and even steeper downhills) some of the 3.4 mile racers came past us at around 18 minutes later! They were flying!
The first 9.5 mile racers shot past us in less than an hour, and about a minute after those two runners, our little four-legged friend sped past, still looking happy and full of energy.
As the runners went past, we cheered, told them they were nearly there, and reminded them that there were great snacks just ahead!
When we were pretty sure we had seen the last runner go by, we headed to the finish ourselves where the race organizers were beginning to pack things up. Not sure how other trail races do this, but our club sends out a “sweeper” on a mountain bike to check the course for any lost runners: a challenging bike ride! When he reported the course was clear, everyone returned to the refreshment area and warmed up with coffee and snacks. Though there were no more pumpkin whoopie pies for us, it had been a great race, for runners and volunteers alike. Even all the four legged creatures, (six horses and one speedy dog) had had a good time.
- Though the scenery is beautiful, there are rocks, roots and leaves that make the trail slippery, so it’s actually harder to fully appreciate the view, because you need to watch where you put your feet. (Everytime I get carried away and start looking at the trees, I catch my toe on a root and find myself stumbling into a tree! So it’s best to stay mindful of your feet.)
- There will probably be fewer water stations than at a conventional race of that distance because setting them up in the middle of a forest can be a logistical challenge. So bring some water.
- There will probably be fewer, porter-potties! But plenty of trees! 😉
- Be prepared to share the road. This year we had a number of horseback riders, but after a little traffic direction, everyone got to where they needed to go.
Have a good Monday!