Pre-post note: I don't really do gear reviews (because I disagree with over-commercialization of outdoor activity...there is not one piece of "magic gear" that will make you "faster"). However, shoe selection was a big part of my success in this non-race, so I'd like to point out some of the helpful features of the Salomon Speedcrosses I wore. You can use these principles when shopping for shoes of any brand.
OK, so onto the non-race report.
What's a non-race? It's something I hadn't heard of before getting involved in the STL outdoorsy scene, but I'm sure we aren't the only crowd that enjoys them. A non-race is basically an unofficial gathering of people who start at the same time and cover the same course. Time is either self-reported or entirely disregarded. Aid stations are either non-existent or full of donuts and whiskey. Finishing order is for bragging rights only. Prizes are whatever the non-organizers feel like handing out...sometimes nothing, sometimes awesome things. Sound interesting? Join me for the 29(mile)r!
The devilish minds of ROCK Racing put together this non-race, the Lost Valley SHivering Icy Trail Run...aka the SHITR...a 13.1 mile night-time trail race. I invited Megan on a last-minute whim and she excitedly decided to join me, even convincing her husband (newly relocated to STL) to come along and check out the trails. Fit friends are awesome. The day started so pleasantly, with temperatures in the 50s at my apartment. Megan and Adam picked me up and we drove out to Chuck's Boots (sort of on the way) and I chugged my coffee while inhaling the aroma of fine leather...mmmmmmm. Then it was off to The Mound where we were one of the first cars to arrive. Adam took off on his SSMTB while Megan and I non-registered, saying hi to Sasha and SuperKate in the process. More and more vehicles arrived and pretty soon we had a crowd 40+ strong! The whole time, temps were dropping significantly. What had started out as a 50F day was now a 30F evening. I changed out of my new Pfoodman running shorts and into a more appropriate pair of 3/4 tights. On top was a lightweight wool tee, a long-sleeve 1/4-zip shirt, my pack with water/calories, and a lightweight windshell. Layering is the name of the game for unpredictable conditions like these!
|That's a lot of SHITRs. Photo by Robin Rongey.|
|Me in red. Megan in black. Both of us blasted through the crowd coming down the steps.|
|Me running away from the creek crossing. Photo by Lori Vohsen.|
I'm running with a loose group of 3 or 4 as we hit the end of the new singletrack and the beginning of the upper section. This is about mile 6, and we have about 4 miles of singletrack and 3.5 miles of doubletrack til the finish. I'm behind a couple runners without a good place to pass, but I just tell myself to chill and cruise along. We work together to find and complete the mystery challenge, which involves visiting an abandoned graveyard. Spooky! Once we get back to the singletrack I know I have to boogie. Even though it's a non-race, I can't resist the urge to run fast through the woods. That, and my headlamp starts issuing warning blinks that mean the batteries are running low. I can just hear Erl sighing in my head because I didn't put fresh batteries in before the start. I have a spare set in my pack, but I don't want to stop and mess with them at the moment. So, I just continue on and hope I don't repeat CPT Nats!
|I like Paint.|
Pretty soon, the eerie glow of The Mound's parking lot lights come into view and I'm really thankful to be close to the finish. I'm soaking wet and starting to freeze. Colby has pulled away but I can still see him a few hundred meters ahead of me. ROCK Racing starts clanging cowbells to welcome us in and I'm amazed that anyone is around in this miserable...ahem...shitty...weather. Robin announces me first female and I get to pick a prize from the back of someone's car! I use the car's clock to declare myself a sub-2hr finisher and call that good (my Garmin is in the middle of a warranty replacement). Robin hands me a custom SHITR car decal that Lori made for all of the runners. This is better swag than most PAID races. Wow! I hustle over to the car where Adam is waiting. Megan isn't far behind me and we both shiver as we change into dry clothes. From there, it's off to get an early start on the Mexican food! Ole!
|The decal handed out to finishers. I put mine on a Nalgene.|