Now everyone was lining up and getting ready to run. Before the horn blasted to start, however, I heard someone speaking over the microphone. It was difficult to hear (as I was standing near the back), but I did make out a beautiful proposal of marriage from the front of the race. What a great way to start the day, and congrats to the happy couple!
I was surprised at how many people showed up for this race, but in my mind, that’s always a good sign! We all ran fairly casual along a double path for roughly a quarter-mile, before the majority of us hit the beginning of the trails. There was a mild stall as the racers had to form a single file up the mountainside.
It wasn’t long past that point, however, that the REAL challenge of the course showed up…MUD!!! Lots and lots of mud! The group started to become less cramped as some racers bolted through the mud with no regard to falling painfully hard, while others giggled or laughed trying to avoid injuries. I was somewhere in the middle. Maneuvering downhill with deep wide trails of mud took a little more skill, and I’ll admit…for the first few miles, the mud was actually pretty fun, though it DID take more energy and strain on the ankles then I expected.
Eventually, the 10k runners and half marathoners had to say good-bye to each other as the course split. THIS is where the course really began to get challenging. There were one or two challenging elevation climbs prior to the split, but nothing compared to the second half of the course. The mud was still everywhere, the climbs were steeper, and stinging nettle lay just to the side of the mud. All of that was just fine, though, because THIS is where my mental determination finally kicked in!
I cannot stress enough how gorgeous the course was. Despite fatigue and pain, the serene environment acted as an analgesic, and it was hard not to stop every few minutes to take photos (which I definitely did!). It seemed like all the greenery we enjoy daily here in Oregon was intensified along this course. Everything was greener and more spectacular with every bend in the trail.
I even met a few new friends along the way…
As I reached the finish line, I couldn’t help thinking how much I would love to take my family on a hike this summer through these trails, though I’ll admit, I didn’t want to think about running a half marathon through them again anytime soon! The funny thing about runners though, is that we SAY we never want to do a race again next year, but then we always do. We forget the torture we endured to finish, and only remember the beauty, fun, and metal satisfaction we received at the end. Yesterday I said I’d never do it again…….but as I type this, I’m on the website page again, looking for when next years registration opens up. You can BET I’ll be there again next year…and this time, I’ll be in full 70’s garb doing it!