Hi KS and Heme
I drove to southern West Virginia to run the first Cabwaylingo State Forest 15k. It was a very small race with the turnout affected by a longtime trail race (Kanawha Trace) changing their date so it was the same day. I got there the day before and was able to see a little of the course and find out some info from the race director. The weather was pretty close to last weekend but there was cloud cover so when we were in the open, it was cooler rather than hotter. The course consisted of about 4 miles of single track, 2 miles or road and the rest on gravel fire road and was approximately 9.5 miles with 1,800 ft elevation gain according to the race directors tracking.
The race started uphill on the Tick Ridge Rd until we got to the Indian trail which climbed to the Tick Ridge fire tower 550 ft above where we started. I had already built a big lead and couldn't see or hear anybody behind me. I turned on a fire road and came out at the first aid station and returned to Tick Ridge Rd for two miles of rolling hills to the next aid station at 3.5 miles. The race director's dad was there and told me I arrived before expected. A ways back I saw a vehicle parked on the road and later learned the RD was driving and when it stopped, he had to run to the aid station and get the vehicle his dad had driven there. This put him a little behind schedule. After the aid station, there was a fork in the road and a 250 ft climb to the highest point of the race. From there we turned onto a double track section that turned into the Spruce Creek trail. This was the highlight of the run as we dropped from almost 1,300 ft to 720 ft over a mile of plush trail. That brought us to the Spruce Creek campground where we followed the road out to the main road that ran through the forest. We ran 1.2 miles on the road to the Copley trail which started behind cabin #7. As I was running on the road, I saw a table with a water cooler on it but no cups and nobody around. I had beaten the RD to the 3rd aid station because of his car trouble. I didn't need any water but I was thinking about the hill on the Copley trail that the RD said you had to walk because it was so steep. I had been able to run all the other hills so I was ready for the challenge. It wasn't much of a contest though as I was immediately reduced to a power hike. I started with hands on knees and then tried the arm pump. I was soon redlining and slowed even more. After a little bit I even had to stop a couple seconds to try and catch my breath. Maybe crawling a little would help. Finally got to what I thought was a switchback but it went left 10 ft and then back straight up the mountain. To make matters worse, a horsefly decided I looked like a nice meal and was trying to bite me. After another couple second rest, I got to another short almost level section that helped catch my breath. I finally made it to the top where my stomach hurt from breathing so hard and my legs were jello. It turned out to be close to 30% incline gaining 520 ft over 1/3rd mile. The run down was more enjoyable though a little steeper than the Spruce Creek trail had been. The trail came out close to the start but we had to run a mile of road to get the finish at another shelter house. I made it in 1:16:50. Second place was 1:33 and third was 1:35.
Next week is a half marathon in Michigan where some of the hills have names. That means they are going to be really steep so hopefully the Copley trail gave me some good practice.