Continuing from last week blog, I went to Thurmond, WV, and ran the inaugural New River Gorge Half Marathon Trail Run. I think that what it was called or it could be ACE Adventure Resort Half Marathon since the whole course was on their property and we had a free night of camping.
I went mostly for checking out the trails for the November River Rim 100 Trail Run. I did not focus so much on my time. I only ce across this race at the last minute, when the River Rim 100 Race people did some promotion for them – mainly indicating that the River Rim would use the same trails for the starting and finishing portion of the race.
I had expected the River Rim to be difficult. It might still be since I haven’t run it yet. However, after doing the half marathon, I don’t think I would sweat it too much.
Basically, the trail for the half marathon were super easy. There were some hills but nothing over 1000 ft climb, I think at most was 100 ish. Most of the trails were wide and the grade was smooth and gentle.
The trails were fairly newly made and they made it by bulldozing them. They were like roads and most of them were wide enough for a car to go through. The point is, they are not technical trails. I believe they were made for cars/bikes.
As for the race, I did finish. They ran it like a city race. I think a lot ‘city’ people came out to support it. They had several different events, 5K, 10K, 10 miler, and the Half. I chose the longest distance. There were some ‘elite’ trail runners and they disappeared immediately after the gun. While the bulk of us slowly moved along the trail.
The first mile was mostly walking. I didn’t mind because I was stuck behind a long train of people going up the mountain. The first mile was more technical – not so much something I couldn’t able to run on, but it was maybe too much for the city people. I overheard many were their first time on the trail or doing a run. For them, indeed it was a struggle. Later I passed many of them.
We had 4 aid stations. I skipped the first since most people stopped there, I decided to get ahead of the slow group. I think I did the climb pretty well.
We almost reached the top, when I saw a bunch of people stopped ahead. 10-15 of so runners. They said there were a bee hive by the trail and many were stung by the bees. One guy was stung six times on his back. A lady was squatting on the trail crying. She was stung in her twice attempt of getting across the hive. The sting was too painful and she decided to quit. None of us carry medicine on us that we could offer to her.
The rest of us decided to go off the trail to go around the hive. That might have costed us 15-20 minutes. We had to bush wack and it was not easy. Some decided to turn back (and quit the race) because they feared getting poison ivy by going off trail. That was only two miles into the race. I wouldn’t blame them. Each had to decide whether it was worth it.
I got past the hive. The rest of the run was uneventful. It was a hot day. We started late in the morning at 10 am – which is not a usually race starting time. I prefer 8 ish to avoid the heat, but hey, the organizer was trying to attract city people to the event I think. I could handle the heat. Note, on their event website, it was posted that the race starts at 8:30, but we later receive the pre-race email, that 8:30 would be the check in time and 10 o’clock would be the official start. The shift to a later start kind of irk me.
I was not running so much for time. Normally if I do it for time, I would finish around 2 hours. But I mostly was at a jogging and walking pace, so it took me about 3 hours.
They offerred us all you can eat tacos after the race. That was nice. I ate and fueled up. Then after hanging out a bit as there were still people out on the course. I spoke with one who finished around 4 hours. It was like a marathon for him. He was cramping up etc. It was his first half marathon. It was also during the hottest part of the day when he finished and he was soaked through by his sweat. Felt bad for him, but he did finish. There were others who took a tumble on the trail. I saw one with a bleeding knee.
In the afternoon, I decided to explore a part of the trail that would be my November race but wasn’t part of this race. That was my whole purpose for coming here. Even though the sun was hot and I didn’t feel like doing more running after the half marathon, I urged myself to go do it. I found at least the trail I ran on was nearly flat! I think it was called the South Trail. I ran maybe 20 miles to Cunard and back.
I also found that one of the trails had a water crossing. I was trying to keep my feet dry and tried to use a fallen tree and some rocks to cross it. Unfortunately the moss there were slipery. Even though the water over the rock was not that deep, I fell when I stepped on it. I tried second time and fell a second time. My gatorade bottle popped out on the second fall and floated downstream. I was not quick enough to recover it. I was fuming. I needed that water. I had a water filter on me, but there were signs from the park service indicating the creek water has high level of batteria from human feces and and we shouldn’t drink it. I had some water on me besides the Gatorade, so I rationed carefully to make my water last for my entire run.
My lesson learnt was next time, just get my feet wet and cross the creek the most direct way instead of trying to do the extra effort of balancing on tree logs or rocks. It was too dangerous. Fortunately I didn’t seriously hurt myself except for falling into the water and had my shorts wet. I could have cracked my head or broke my arm (since I was trying to brace myself as I fell). I was grateful that only my butt was hurt.
The rest of the run was uneventful. It was an out and back course. A portion was on the road. I tried to avoid the Waterfall Trail on the way back. I thought I found a side trail. I followed it and it led to a trellis. However, the trellis crossing was closed due to it being structural unsafe. Luckily I backtracked back to the Waterfall Trail because, later after getting back to camp, I checked the map, the path I was going to take would not have taken me back to my campground. I was glad, I had enough sense to turn back when I should.
My purpose going there was to check out the course for the 100 miles. I reached my goal. I did not get to explore the entire course but I am happy nontheless because I think even the part I did not get to, would be easy. Basically, I shouldn’t worry about it.