Today (October 22, 2011) was indeed a special day, being able to run 2 races in one day. To my knowledge I had only one chance to do that, and it was earlier this year but I was late learning about it and I even forget what the events were. They were shorter runs and both Local to Roanoke.
This was my second time running in the Anthem Into The Darkness.
I dont feel that this race report does justice to how amazing and fun this event is. I wish I had more pictures and different ways to communicate that to you. This event is like none other. It's not a race for the most part, it's just a fun run. It has a slight Halloween theme to it, but it is VERY family oriented.
It was another fine event put on my the Mountain Junkies, LLC. I'm proud to say I'm a Mountain Junkie! I love the adventurous events they put on. I cant wait to run more of these events for the second time.
This run takes place at NIGHT TIME, on TRAILS.
In case you diddnt get that from the title, or the nifty logo above. Funny thing, is that each year, I hear from at least one person in attendance that they have never run trails, and of course they never run at night. The Race Director makes it mandatory that each runner carry one light, and encouraged 2. using 2 lights helps cast different shadows allowing for better perception of the terrain.
420 runners braved the chilly air which was perfect for running.
Location was the Explore Park, which has some interesting history. I'd love to go into it here, but honestly do some Google searching if you are interested. Basically the park is closed, but the trail system remains open because of some awesome people (Mountain Junkies LLC) have made an agreement that if they keep the trails maintained, then they will stay open. This is one of 2 events that the Mountain Junkies host here. The other is the Explore Your Limits 5k and 10k. Read my report on that event from 2011 HERE.
My running friend Doug Falls has hosted a few group runs on these trails over the past year. So, I've been on the trails quite a bit since last year when I ran this race for the first time.
I am thankful for my Dad and Step Mom who came to watch the kids, so that Lydia and myself could run this evening.
Lydia and I were equipped with our head lamps and a hand held. We upgraded our lighting from last year. Last year we both had Energizer head lamps bought from a local hardware store, and a small hand help bought from Advance Auto. We had the headlamps from camping supplies, and I bought the hand helds as a cheap additional suppliment. Of course it was fine and sufficient for the race, as EVERYONE out there is carrying a light or two and you can see much better than you thing you may be able to. Seldom do you find yourself alone out there with over 400 runners on a 4 mile course.
Over the past year Lydia and I have been running at night a lot more lately. We have both bought quality 60 lumen head lamps. I payed $55 for mine, Petzl Tikka XP2 (purchased from Roanoke's Outdoor Trails). She payed $15 for hers, Kelty brand, purchased from Target. Ironically they are both 60 lumens, cast a spot light for 60 meters, and take 3 AAA batteries. The Petzl has a nicer case and other light settings, but The Kelty is a sweet deal, but doesnt seem as durable.
The hand helds I bought are 120 lumen Mag-lite XL LEDs. So we were well equipped with light.
|Petzl Tikka XP 2|
I wanted to be sure she and I both have quality lights for this event, but mainly so when we run at night we remain VISIBLE. So incredibly important for night running, or early morning running.
So we arrive good and early at the event, so my folks can get oriented in the day light, and know what to expect.
This year you could enter the event either as a racer, or as a runner. The runners started 10 mins after the racers. During the time of registration I diddnt really plan to race the event, and I was thinking that I diddnt want to be in the way of all the racers, fighting for position on the trail. So I registered as a runner.
I think this really served me well, as I was planning for my own time improvement from last year which was 39 mins, and I planned to do it in 36.
Starting in front of the pack with the runners, gave me a fairly clear trail ahead. The first mile or more is not single track and allows for passing quite easily. Beginning on road, then gravel, then grass and all downhill so far. A lot of spreading out of runners. You dont know it but you are running along side the Roanoke River at this moment. The trail transitions from grass to trail slowly and unknowingly. Eventually you are climbing up a hill that I bet most runners would never consider in the daylight, but it's a short one (0.11m). Then a left turn onto the Endurance Loop, Intermediate loop, and finishing the last mile on the Beginner loop. Additional details of the race course HERE.
I'm glad the race ends on the Beginner loop. The Explore Your Limits 10k finishes right after you get out of the woods from the Intermediate loop, and there's a bit of a climb in that last mile. So finishing with a more simple rolling mile is nice, as you can push your pace a little.
I think that my position starting at the front of the second group (the runner group) was fairly strategic, as no one passed me, and I was passing only those that slowed greatly after getting into the woods, or the few that were in the back of the racers group.
The entire course was well decorated with glow sticks, and random flashy things. Nothing scary but it was themed for Halloween. It kept the trail exciting and fun!
Crossing the line within my goal of under 36, my time 35:22, which earned me 4th place in the age group of 20 men ages 35-39. What a successful weekend!
The post-race goodies were consistent with all Mountain Junkie events... a FEAST! Mama Maria's in Salem, VA provided pasta, while the table was full of home baked Dru's cookies, and MJ signature chocolate chip pumpkin bread, Salazon chocolate and so much more. I really need to get more pictures of the food spread out for runners after these Mountain Junkie events. If you cant run, you might as well register just to eat!
Once I was completed running and cooled down a bit, I walked back on the trail a short way and ran with Lydia in to the finish line. She improved her own time by 8 minutes!
I'm excited for my running friends Phil and Pam who really connected with their daughters at the back of the pack. In a few years I'll be remembering you as I walk with my son!