Muddy trails, slippery leaves
The Knobstone Trail Half Marathon was beautiful. It was fun. It was a great way to start the weekend.
One thing it wasn’t: fast.
The trail was wet and muddy, covered with a carpet of slippery leaves and pine needles. As soon as I stepped foot on it, I knew I could kiss goodbye any hope of a course PR.
I finished in 2:25:13 — about seven minutes slower than last year at this race.
But that’s OK. Most runners I talked to afterward said they ran slower this year than last year, when the trail was dry and firm.
The results have not yet been posted, so I don’t know how many people entered or finished, or how I did in my age group.
This was my longest trail run since the Buckeye Trail 50K in July. It was fun to get back onto a hilly, challenging hiking trail again for a few hours of running.
How hilly was it? About as hilly as any other trail in southern Indiana — meaning lots of 200-foot climbs and descents on switchbacks and singletrack. Several of the climbs were too steep to run. Most of us slowed to a power hike a half-dozen times or so.
At one point, on steep climb, I looked behind and saw this:
Yep, if you wanted to make it to the top of this hill, you slowed down, bent over for support and took little steps.
But the downhills were fun, if you kept your eye on the mud and wet leaves.
The weather was chilly — low 40’s, with a rainy mist in the air. I was surprised how many leaves were on the ground. That made it tough to see the trail in many places. Once or twice, I took a wrong turn, because the trail was completely buried in leaves. When I became clear to me a few moments later that I was off-trail, I turned back and got back on course.
I might have run a few hundred extra yards doing this.
I’m glad to report that despite the challenging footing, I did not stumble or fall. Several others did. Every half-hour or so, I would hear a body hit the ground — or worse, splash in a creek — and then hear a string of cursing. Ooh, I know that feeling. I’ve been there. I’m just glad I wasn’t there today.
Speaking of creeks, there were three or four that were too wide and deep to jump across. I had to chuckle when I saw the newbies stopping at the edge, looking anxiously up and down the banks, hoping to find an easy crossing. I charged across, splashing through the water willy-nilly, passing lots of runners each time.
The field thinned out considerably after the 10-mile runners left. I had to do another three mile loop around the Mason Ridge to get in the half-marathon distance. The finished line was so sweet when I finally looped back for the second time, and lapped a few slow runners who were on their first loop. I turned on whatever speed I had left in my legs and got ‘er done.
Then I headed over the pavilion for soup, hot cider and some war stories with friends.