The Dam Half Marathon is one of my most favorite races! I feel like I say that about all the trail races, but maybe that's because they all have so much in common in my area. The 2014 Dam Half Marathon and Dam Full Marathon were held Sunday, September 14 at R. B. Winter State Park. The full started at 7am and the half started at 8am. The race is put on by a phenomenal group called the Mid Penn Trailblazers. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, this group knows how to host an amazing event!
A little about the course itself from the race website-
|"We hope that both runners and hikers will continue to enjoy the 13-mile course that takes contestants over single & double track trails with some portions of fire roads. The contestants will be subjected to rocks, mud, downed trees, stumps, roots, woodland creatures and small stream crossings. Competitors will scale challenging ascents with scenic vistas before the final downhill to the finish line! The elevation gains will surely leave legs screaming for mercy. Afterwards, contestants will bask in the camaraderie around the pavilion, complete with a warm fire and delicious food. This race is open to all levels of athletes who share a common love for the adventurous outdoors. The Dam Half and Dam Full courses are all situated within Bald Eagle State Forest, and you really get the feeling of being far removed from civilization when doing this course! Mostly narrow single track trails with some jeep trails and a little bit of dirt road mixed in to relax your legs (but not too much). The Dam Half has a total elevation gain of 2,500 feet, while the Dam Full has a total elevation gain of 4,600 feet. The courses have several climbs with a few boulder fields mixed in to test your legs (and wits)! In between the climbs though, there are some nice flat and rolling sections winding through beautiful hemlock and pine forests with some stream crossings here and there. Both courses have the toughest climb of the event near the end, the dreaded Stairway to Heaven. Stairway to Heaven is a brutal single track climb with 700 feet of elevation gain within a half mile straight up the side of Naked Mountain. But once you summit, it’s 1.5 miles all downhill to the finish!!!"|
The miles were fairly uneventful for me, which is good! The weather was perfect and the trails were beautiful. When I got to the top of the Stairway I glanced at my watch and saw I had about sixteen minutes to get across the boulder field, down the mountain, and to the finish line (1.5 miles away) to make my goal. That should be no problem when considering the distance, but me and hazardous mountainsides don't get along too well. However, I made it down and turned on the speed on that final stretch. My official finish time was 2:28:16, average pace of 11:19/mile. I placed 6 of 66 in my age group (F30-39) and 72nd overall of 329 partipants. An improvement compared to last year's stats- AG 6/45, overall 100/343, finishing time 2:34:08, pace 11:46/mile.