While everyone else (including my kids) was away for the Labor Day holiday weekend, I was stuck at home, working Sunday of the holiday weekend. What to do when everyone else is on vacation, you’re depressed, and have few plans?
Sign up for a race! (If you’re demented!)
I’ve been quite taken with the cozy little Wisconsin Trail Assail Running Series, from what I’ve seen so far (two races), and knew they had a 5 or 10K at a park really close to a running buddy’s house.
We agreed to do run some base miles together, then do the 10K, but the week before the race, the organizer added a 15K. Even better! Fewer miles to run alone. We both signed up.
Since the race started at 8, we agreed to get to the park by 7 and run as far as we could before it started. The course was one loop for the 5K, two loops for the 10K, etc., so we did a loop to become familiar with it.
Or should I say, sloshed a loop.
It had rained heavily the night before and the trails were absolutely sodden. In some places, despite slowing down to a tiptoe and keep our feet dry, it was impossible to avoid being submerged up to the ankle. I nearly lost a shoe, and we were both spattered before the race started.
The most dangerous areas were just outside the muck puddles, where you thought you were clear of the obstacle, but mud from people’s shoes had covered the path in a thin, deceptively slippery film.
Despite being notoriously clumsy, we avoided disaster and got to the start right before the gun.
Looking around the extremely small pack of runners, all distances starting together with the same color bibs, we smiled.
This is my favorite part of the Trail Assail Series.
There’s no hassle with parking, you can sign up day of, the field is small and one starts to see familiar faces, and it just feels like… fun! Like it’s meant to be.
Just gonna go for a little jaunt in the woods with some other people!
Like a high school cross country race. Which, if I remember reading correctly when the series launched, is exactly what the organizers are going for. (See article)
Sign up, show up, do your thing, go home. No elaborate packet pick-up, no bands on the course, no cross promotions being shoved down your throat. They seem to take great pride in their adorable fruit display after the race (a girl nicknamed Chiquita is in charge), so look for the special touches there.
The course was fairly flat, the biggest obstacles were the mud puddles, and bathrooms were plentiful along the course. Actual physical buildings and not portables. There was one no-frills aid station per loop, which was totally sufficient, and the scenery changed from woods to lake to hill to field in the small park.
They do have race photography, and the pictures were ugly, as usual. If anyone has ever had a good one taken, let me know.
Overall, I would recommend this race as a great training run or fun weekend activity to all levels of runner, beginner to experienced, except elite.
Unless you’re an elite runner who wants to like, finish 20 minutes before everyone else, rob the average folk of the one medal they have a good chance of winning, and put it next to your Ironman trophies. You know who you are.
As it were, the big kids stayed home that day, and we both finished first in our age categories, considering we were, um, the only ones in our age categories for the wildly unpopular 15K, and went home with muddy shoes, first place medals, and pictures of ourselves giggling on the awards podium.