This bend in the trail is always pure mud. Normally we slow down here to look for the skinny tree on the edge that marks the best crossing point. But this time I’m being chased. And so I zip to our secret crossing point at full speed, grabbing the tree for just an instant to help propel me around the turn and onto dry ground ahead.
It felt, for just an instant, like a scene from some action movie where circumstances change your familiar surroundings into a high-stakes chase.
“You can’t do this in a road race,” I thought gleefully during one of my favorite highlight-reel moments of the W.O.O.F. 5.3-mile trail race at Ouabache State Park.
It’s a good thing I bought only my overactive imagination to Saturday’s race rather than the age-grouper zeal I started out the year with, or I would’ve been sorely disappointed.
Though I had no idea which runners were in my age group, turns out I placed 20 seconds behind the first-place finisher and 10 seconds behind the second-place finisher to wind up dead last, third out of three, at 56.54.8, a 10:44 pace.
On the up side: My time was better than the second-place finisher in the 40-49 age group, and just a minute behind that division’s winner.
But this time it was all for fun, and this race – which I’ve never been able to fit into my schedule before even though it’s practically in my own back yard, state park-wise — really was a hoot.
Here’s another thing you can’t do at a road race, primarily because they tend to draw such bigger crowds: Wind up sitting with some of the folks who turn out to have been your competitors at the postrace cookout, quaffing bison burgers and beer.