Monday, April 6, 2015

Mile Run Trail Challenge Half Marathon 2015

One of my goals this year is to complete the TrailRunner Magazine Trophy Series, a really cool series consisting of five races: Mile Run, Hyner, Rothrock, Dam Scramble, and Dam Half.  All challenging, incredibly fun races!  The Mile Run (Tiadaghton) Half Marathon Trail Challenge is an event hosted by Jeff Miville and Integrity Sports.  You take the Mile Run exit off of I-80 and quite literally the only thing there is Mile Run Road and a DCNR parking lot at the trail head.  It really makes you wonder why the exit exists at all!  The race is 13.55 miles long with a little over 3000 feet in elevation gain.  Some areas are quite technical.  Click here if you're interested in reading the course description.

The start is less than thirty minutes from my house, so my friend Dennis and I planned to leave around 9am for a 10am start.  Aaron was volunteering for the race so he left around 7:30.  I started seeing a lot of facebook buzz about I-80 being closed.  Then Aaron called to confirm that and said I would have to take the back road.  I should mention that temperatures decided to be sub-freezing and there were random, heavy snow squalls in the area.  However, Dennis and I stuck to our plan to leave at 9 and still got there in plenty of time since we knew the back road.  They did delay the start by half an hour to allow for some late arrivals.  I could not believe how much snow had fallen there because there was nothing at my house!

Packet pick up was a snap and we had time to kill.  So we hung out in the car for a while.  We spotted our friend Sayard and took the photo op!
Dennis, Me, Sayard
The race starts in the parking lot and goes left down the road, around a cone, then back up the road to the trail.  This was something new this year to try to space out the runners a little bit more before hitting the single track.  I think it worked pretty well.
And we're off!
Dennis and I had previewed the course two weeks beforehand and the snow was DEEP!  Thankfully, I'm glad to say that while it had not totally melted, at least not on most of the course, it had melted enough that running in it wasn't terribly difficult.
Preview Two Weeks Out
My goal for this race was seriously just to not get hurt and not take all day.  Well, mission accomplished!  I enjoyed the run and the beauty of the trail as well as the companionship of my fellow runners.  What moments of the race that stick out most in my memory include the long, long slow climb after the second aid station where Amey Johnson told me it would be getting easier, the creek crossing where I tried (in vain) to keep my feet dry, and of course, running under I-80 in the frigid, ice cold mountain water, then through eight inches of mud for 50 yards, before tackling the toughest hill of the day back up to the finish line.  In my opinion this race is a little tougher than the Dam Half.  There are three aid stations, all well stocked and manned by friendly volunteers.  The finish party had soup, burgers, hot dogs, and beer.  I placed 10/50 in my age group (F 30-39), 142/380 overall, with a time of 2:42:13 (12:23/pace).
Out of the Tunnel, Into the Mud
I changed my clothes and met up with Dennis for some post-race grub.  And we were freezing.  I was planning on waiting for Aaron to finish up volunteering, but I'm really glad I didn't.  He didn't get home until 5pm that night!  Thankfully Dennis was able to give me a ride home.  Good event, good people, would definitely do it again.
My awesome friends kicking some A!
Most photos courtesy of See PA Run- thanks Bo!

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