The Bull Run 50 mile Race, took place last weekend. At the last minute, they reopened their registration, however, I already had other plans especially since I signed up to volunteer at one of their aid stations. It would be bad karma to promise to serve and then go back on my words.
This BROT (Bull Run/Occoquan Trail) 50 Mile Race is the race I have been wanting to run but was never able to catch their sign up. I joined them a couple times on their training runs (BRR #1 and #3) recently. BRR stands for Bull Run Run and is how the training runs are named. BROT is the abbreviation for the trail name and I think it is the official race name.
When I heard the registration being reopened, I was torn. I needed some longer runs for my 100 mile training. A 50 mile race would be about right. However, being this near to the 100 race, it might not do me any good. I am about a month out from my race.
I knew I was going to volunteer when they made a call for us. And volunteering was fun. We made a lot of runners happy. Our station was the first stop at about 7 miles into their race. Many faster runners did not need anything from us. The course was an out and back in both directions, with the race starting near the middle (Hemlock Overlook). We were stationed near the Bull Run Park end point, so we saw runners coming toward us and back again for a second time after a turn around at Bull Run. By 9 o clock, all runners had passed us. We then were able to close the station and go our way an hour and half ahead of our scheduled time. There is no official cutoff at our station, but the extremely slow runners knew and was partly encouraged by our station manager to drop from the race if they couldn’t get to our station by 9-ish.
I brought my running gear with a hope to do my long run right after volunteering. I explored the Bull Run Park end of the trail. Because it had rained the previous night, the park wouldn’t let the race take place in a loop in their park (the usual turn around point for this race). Thus, I think the race was about 2-3 miles short from a true 50 miler, but I don’t think runners mind. The Bull Run’s end was indeed extremely muddy. I ran there out of curiosity to check and did a loop around the park, the part other runners were not allowed in. By the time I finished, I was like 2 hours from the last runner of the race.
The trail was open to the public. I felt I was far behind from the pack so people wouldn’t confuse me as being in their race.
I did not have a goal when I first started. I hoped I could get about 20 miles in for my long run day. While on the trail, I felt great and decided I could push for a 50K. I knew running a 50 mile was out of the question since I started late in the day. I planned to push for 10 miles out toward the Fountainhead side where runners were and come back before getting back to my car. I already had about 10 miles in and just needed 20 miles more for a 50K.
I passed by their finish line (and it was their starting line too) at Hemlock Overlook. It was past noon, but no one had finished yet. I went for a few more miles and saw the first place runner coming in. He was ahead by 3 miles of the 2nd and 3rd place. He cracked a joke saying if I see the second place, to give a shout so that he would know how close the second place is behind. There was no way a second place would be on his tail that day. I did see the second place a long while after. I kept running until I was at the Bull Run Marina, which was another Aid Station. By then I think 5 or 6 runners had passed through on their way back to the finish. Normally, Bull Run Marina is my turn around point.
It was still early in the afternoon. I had about 15 miles. I still needed a few more miles before turning around since I wouldn’t be going again all the way to Bull Run. So I ran to the next aid station from there. In this section, I saw more runners coming through on their way back. When I reached my turn around point (my mile 19), the midpack runners arrived. These runners walked the hills more often. They are still strong compared to me. They were all fast. All of them passed me. For them it was their mile 40. I haven’t even reached my mile 25 yet. I hustled with them.
I was pretty tired by the time I got back to the Marina. It was after 5 pm by then, a bit later than I had hoped. I was out of water. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t mind if I asked for some at the station. I forgot to bring my own filter. In the past, when I ran on this trail, I used to be out of water too and had to filter water from the creek. While I was debating to stop for water a fellow volunteer recognized me and called. I, therefore stopped and asked for their water. Of course, they filled me up. Their station would be open for another hour and half.
I was nervous I might get to my car after dark and the park might tow my car since where I left my car does not allow overnight parking. I had about two hours and at most three hours before sunset. For some reasons, I felt my destination was much farther away and I might not make it.
At least five or six runners caught up to me in this stretch. Probably 30-40 in total had passed me by then. They were all rushing to the finish. These were the 11 hour finishers (strong runners). About a mile out from their finishes, they were all sprinting. They all knew they were near and there was a bit of a competitive spirit among us. They didn’t know I was not in the race I think. Of course, I couldn’t keep up as I had no reason to. I still had five miles to go before reaching my car, beyond their finish line. I walked by then after I made my turn off toward my trail away from their trail which leads to their finish line. I was hitting my bonk. I was at my mile 27. My water soon ran out again, but I knew I only had a few miles left to go. I had my gels leftover from my last weekend race. They came in handy. I slurped them and after a mile or so, I regained my strength. I reached my car before 7 o clock with the sun still up. The fear of getting there after dark was moot because we have like an hour more daylight.
As for the race, runners still had an hour left. They had 13 hours to do it. Personally, I don’t know if I could run 50 miles on that trail under 13 hours. I felt I might need 14 hours or more to do it. I only did about 30 miles and it took me about 8 hours. I think another 20 miles might take me longer. However, that was not my race. I was just happy I got my training run in. I reflected on if I were running my 100 mile today, what condition would I be, knowing I still have 60+ miles to go. I should not be this tired yet. I believe my 100 mile is on a harder trail.
The next day of course, I was still tired. My friend from DC messaged me (the same guy I did the marathon together a week ago) if I want to do a bunny run since it will be Easter coming up. He likes to draw shapes using his runs. He planned to draw a bunny on Strava (gps map) this weekend. He planned the run, and I was there just for the fun. He called up a few others to join in. I asked him how many miles. He said 8. Eight was a reasonable amount I could do after a 50K. Some streets were closed. My bunny turned out OK. It had some extra features/an appendage, because I didn’t want to pause my watch for the road detours. Some of you already saw them on my Strava.
I told him, his run was my recovery run. I was happy for my weekend. It was not a race but I got my runs done both the BRR and a little fun run on top. Happy Easter everyone!