Upon arriving at Frank Kinney Park, a quaint neighborhood park located in the Southeast hills of Eugene, it was quite simple to find a parking spot. Gear in hand, I ventured over to the start/finish staging area to pick-up my race packet and technical shirt. The lines were a bit long, and the 10 a.m. start time was approaching rather quickly, I was starting to get nervous about the ability for all of us to get our packets picked up in time. Alas, the worry didn't do any good, as they announced about 15 minutes prior to 10 a.m. that they would start the 16 mile racers at 10 a.m., and stagger the 10 mile start to 10:05 a.m., 6 milers would start at 10:10 a.m., and the 3.5 milers would take to the trails at 10:15 a.m.
I was participating in the 6 mile race. When our race group was called to the start line, I was so not ready for this. Having just PR'd at the Runaway Pumpkin half marathon a couple weekends prior, I was mentally not in this race; I was still in the half marathon race mindset (start slow, finish fast). Bam! Time to start, and about 50 of us took off. After looping around the Rexius bark trail, we began our ascent into the Amazon Headwaters Trail area. This was my first experience venturing into these portions of trail in Eugene, so the scenery was fairly new to me. The first couple of hills were fairly mild, with room for runners to pass comfortably. About 1.5 miles in, we hit a wide, rocky road that had great undulations with lots of room to get into the appropriate pace group. We crossed a small stream (fun!) and then the packs of runners started to thin out so we were no longer in packs. The first aid station was a split point, where 3.5 mile racers turned around. Those of us participating in the 6 miler were greeted with a pretty substantial set of hills at this point. I knew during this portion of the race that there was no way I would be able to get to my 54 minute finish time. No problem - it is my first trail race, after all.
After the 6 mile turn around point, at aid station two, it was time for some serious descending. I was eagerly awaiting this moment, as I have always been a hill lover. Running road races, you aren't privileged to see such substantial, steep, long downhills. I was so ready for this! ZING! Down the hills I go, checking my Garmin occasionally to see my pace on the descent. Wow - I was flying. And it felt so awesome! I was confident and secure in my footing and ability to take the corners (and dodge people on the course, too). Being down on myself that I wouldn't make my goal time of 54 minutes to the finish, I was thrilled with my performance on this portion.
Coming out of the trees, I immediately saw the park, with the finish line and all the festivities set up. This was just great! I kicked it to the finish line, thankful to be done, and have my first trail race behind me. The finish line had lots of post-race food, including beer from Plank Town Brewing in Springfield, and Qdoba. The race shirts were excellent (available for an additional fee at registration). I received an age group award, which was a wonderful surprise, too.
I learned so much, had a blast, and will definitely be back on the trails racing again. I just need to find a race that is straight up hill, then straight down hill - anyone know of one? I'm interested.
Great job to all involved in making this event possible. It was the fifth race in the Run Big Trail Series. I'll check out the entire series next year, for sure!
Race results for all race distances located here.
-Jessica, Run Oregon Blogger