At the gun, I took off in front with Mike. No one felt close at first. Eventually, on Sanctuary Road, I could here footsteps behind me, as Mike steadily increased his lead. I figured Jeff was behind me, but I couldn't tell for sure. I hit the short trail section in Kimball and then climbed the short hill into the campground. Turning right onto a paved road, I got a glance at the person chasing me, and indeed it was Jeff. I don't know what's better - chasing a gazelle or having a gazelle chasing you. On this hot day, I wasn't looking for a battle, but it looked like that's what I was in for. Soon after running on this paved camp road, there was a course marshall kid at a confusing intersection and also a sign (with "YMCA" in big letters and a small faint arrow below it). I wasn't sure which dirt road I was supposed to take (3 options), and I used my best judgement. Apparently I guessed wrong, but Jeff shouted ahead to me, and then the two of us, bushwacked (more like campsite-whacked) our way back to the appropriate dirt road, but who knows. Eventually, there was a straightaway long enough for us to see Mike ahead of us, and we determined we were back on course. I decided to try to push the pace again, as I'm sure we had slowed down with the confusion. I got a couple of steps ahead of Jeff, before more confusion at another sign. Soon after, a car went speeding by, apparently filled with more course marshalls, as we could see them spilling out and sprinting to their designated spots before we beat them to it. We reached a downhill section of road, and I tried to let it fly, knowing this was prime gazelle habitat. We reached the Kimball trail again, and then I popped back onto Sanctuary Road, not hearing Jeff near me anymore. I knew I had a little less than a mile to go, and I tried to visualize running it like a mile repeat during a workout. More course drama unfolded when a truck pulling a boat didn't see me, and pulled out right in front of me. I went around on the right, passed it, and then cut in front. Entering the parking lot, I was running out of gas, and the remaining course was all uphill. I looked back for Jeff and didn't see him. I could relax. I slowed down, but tried to keep up a decent pace. I heard my name announced, so I mustered up a short sprint to the finish.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Walker
I forgot to stop my watch, so I wasn't sure what my time was, somewhere around 20 minutes. This seemed okay, figuring that the heat slowed me down. But, I then talked to Mike and Jeff, and their space watches measured the course as 3.35 and 3.4. I had no idea, since I only had my normal watch, and missed any posted mile markers on the course. Mike B came in 4th, Rhody Seth 5th, and Jeff's son was 6th. My dad was 15th. I ran a cool down with Mike G and then collected my prize for winning my age division. Mike promised to measure the course with his bike and report back.
It turned out that the race timers (SNERRO) adjusted the official distance from a 5K to 3.4 miles. Mike's bike measured it as 3.35. My average pace was 5:54 per mile. This made me feel really good about my race. My second mile was confusing and slow, so my 1st and last miles must have been solid. It's nice to have another local trail(ish) race in the mix. Next year I won't get lost.