55-65F. A bit humbled up in Waco today. A smaller turnout for this race compared to last weekend, and I didn't know anyone there, but still super challenging and fun.
Course: Yeah. I wasn't really ready for something like that. Someone told me last weekend it would be tough, but I still underestimated it. They set it up to be 10-mile laps. There was some bushwhacking, crawling, and finally some hellacious stairs around the 9.5 mile point (and unfortunately the 19.5 mile point). Not like stairs in your house, like Mayan temple stairs...
However the main problem was navigation. It was marked ok but there were many, many intersections, and a few you just had to guess. There were dozens of easy ways to cut the course, even if you weren't trying to. I was looking for old race results last night and I saw one year where the RD wrote, "so-and-so is declared the winner of the 20-miler because he was the only one to run the full course." That probably should have been my first clue.
Race - I started out in the lead and gapped everyone fairly quickly. Then after 2 miles I got to a T in the trail and it was unmarked. I went maybe 100m in each direction, hoping to see some markings then decided I'd missed something and better re-trace my steps. Fortunately, from a distance I saw the new 1st and 2nd place dudes and caught up to them. One said, "hey, aren't you that guy that took off in the beginning?" Uh huh...
We dropped 1 guy and I was left following the older dude (55!). After a couple miles it was clear we had a pretty big lead and we agreed there was no reason to run too hard. After getting lost once already, almost twice, I was in no rush to pass him despite the easier pace (he'd run it last year and said they had the same problems).
We stuck together for most of the race. There were a couple open sections and there was no one to be seen behind us. I was feeling a little guilty because he'd kept us on course this whole time and I knew I'd just blast by him once I was ready. But with 3 miles to go a totally different guy we'd never seen before pops up behind us. We let him pass and it didn't look like my buddy was going to be able to keep up so I let him know I wanted to go after the new guy and he stepped aside and wished me luck.
But this new guy was flying. Within a few minutes he completely disappeared. It was weird because there was a long straightaway climb right after I lost him - I completely expected to see him up there, but no. According to the RD after the race he was ~5 minutes ahead. I was pushing pretty hard too, and had reserved a decent bit of gas in the tank. Could not for the life of me figure out how a guy with wheels like that wouldn't have caught us much earlier, or why he wouldn't have tried to go out with our relatively slow-moving lead pack.
I talked to the older guy after the race who finished a couple minutes after me and you could tell he was quite suspicious. But that might just be the nature of the beast in trail running...I mean I had to do quite a lot of hiking vs running, and the stairs at the end took me forever compared to the 1st loop - it's definitely possible that he legitimately just stomped us at the end.
Anyway, gonna skip this one next year. The Tejas Trails races (the last 2 I did) make it nearly impossible to go the wrong way...just a lot cleaner competition, I think. But it was mostly enjoyable, and a really neat park to run in. Every time I do a trail race I learn things that I can improve on, so hopefully I'll get better as I go.