Saturday, June 25, 2011

Race for the Animals 10k trail run

It is a gorgeous Saturday morning.
The sun is up but the air in Lower MacLeay Park is still cool and fresh from the last night as I arrive to the starting point filled with the usual pre-race excitement and expectations.

The Race for the Animals is a 5k/10k event which takes place in Forest Park and the course is mainly on the beautiful Wildwood Trail. Today the trail is all dry and not muddy as most of the year here in Pacific Northwest.That promises a perfect run today.

I am really happy to know I am not going to be the only barefoot runner here. Our Barefoot Runners Society Oregon Chapter really represents today.

Josh, Jasmine, Suzanne, Mike, myself and Martin (down)

I know the course well. I have run it multiple times (it is actually one of my training runs) so I know almost every pointy stone on the trail. This gives me a real confidence so I am not taking any emergency shoes with me. I am pretty sure I can finish  easily and my only goal for today is not getting injured on the sharp rocks, have fun as always and stay under 1 hour.

First part of the course follows the beautiful Balch creek

Me at the start

The first half a mile is on a rocky trail along the charming Balch creek. The runners pack is dense and it is hard to slip further ahead. I start passing runners anywhere I can find a wider spot and soon I end up at a tail of a small group running at my pace.

Rocky section along the creek

First half a mile is somewhat technical at places

I stay behind the group and wait for my moment. That comes at mile 2.
There is a steeper climb up ahead so I shoot forward. I easily smoke all 4 runners in front of me and quickly find myself running alone in the woods. I see some faster runners in front of me flashing through the trees but other than that it feels like there is no race today. I am just comfortable running mu usual route enjoying the calm forest.

Three miles climbing up done, now to the downhill part. I lean forward, bend knees more and fly downward with a hellish cadence.

At mile four there is a short but steep climb. Two shoddies in front of me stop and start walking up.
As I pass them I hear some nice encouraging cheering from behind.
"What a nice day it is to run today!" I think to myself.

Soon my feet hit the familiar rocky surface of the Balch creek trail again and I start hearing some runners behind me closing in.
"Nobody is going to pass me here and now !" I hear my competitive part of me and I decide to listen to it.
The last half a mile is definitely the fastest I have ever done at this place. The chasers are gone and I can not be happier seeing two fives on the timing board as I sprint to the finish line. I wait for Mike, Martin and Suzanne and snap some pictures for them.

Jasmine finishing

Martin finishing

Mike finishing

Josh with Jasmine ran the 5k course and Josh actually won the race ! We had a good celebration after the race in the park with a cold refreshing beer.

Our contingent of barefoot runners even got a bit of respect in the local newspaper's running blog :

"Starting and finishing at Lower MacLeay Park, this well-organized tour of Portland's urban forest brought out an enthusiastic group of runners, including a contingent of barefoot athletes who somehow braved the rocky surface of the trails east of the Stone House."

Race stats:
Length: 10k
Elevation change: 610 ft.
Time: 0:55:08 (Pace 08:48)
Placed: 18th overall

Race course:

Race profile

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures!
    Congratulations for the race!