Posted by: Karen | December 17, 2005

Silver Springs Surprise

The plan was to walk down to the Silver Springs XC race (4km) and then jog back up hill home, after volunteering as a race marshal during the race. Then I’d get in my volunteer requirement for the Grand Prix series without missing out on a run. I dressed very warmly with many layers under my winter coat, and brought chemical warming packets for my hands and toes. I don’t need much for running, but standing around in the cold is a different story.

It turned out the RD already had enough marshals. I was free to race after all, so happily signed up for the 8k. It was a good thing I had dressed to run home. Since the sun was shining and it wasn’t terribly windy at -14C/7F, I left my hat off and wore only the earmuffs. I had on 2 long sleeved shirts (1 was a turtleneck), a fleece, and my thin leggings under lined windpants. I also wore Yaktrax over my trail shoes. I got a little chilly waiting for the race to start, but clowning around with friends and posing for Dawn’s camera took my mind off it.

It took me a good 10-15 minutes to get completely warmed up, but I motored along over the hills. The scenery was absolutely GORGEOUS. A heavy frost/light snow had come during the night and coated every single branch, weed and blade of grass. My eyes took in the landscape and I exclaimed over and over how beautiful it was out. Then my balance would yank my attention back to the variable terrain before me until the next time I glanced up. Here are some pictures of this course I took last year – just envision it coated in glorious white, with sunshine beaming down.

I gave lots of whoops of courage on this course. I needed them to get down several steep descents. I didn’t catch up to Kansas for about 20 minutes. His long legs did great going up, but I am more fearless on the downs and don’t waste time. In XC racing, strategy makes a huge difference in one’s time. Kansas beat me by 9 minutes in last week’s flat Catch the Elves 10k race, but so far I’ve been consistent in leaving him behind on the trails. Trail racing is more than just fitness – it pays to have experience, strong ankles, and body parts that don’t mind bounding down hills.

In the last third of the race I caught up to one of our young University students who’s usually much faster than me. Exams had really wiped her out, and she was walking on the flat through the trees when I came along. No no no, Shiela, no walking on the flat. Let’s jog along for a bit and then walk up the hills. She couldn’t let old me get away from her, so I led her on through the trees and up up up out of the valley. I could hear her spikes crunching on the ice behind me. She liked my pace and didn’t pass me until we rounded the turn to the finish. She motored it on in and now it was my turn to try and keep up. As we ran through the final valley we heard other racers cheering us on. Her dad ran in to the finish beside her and I pushed the sprint to the uphill finish as hard as I could. She rallied and beat me by an eyelash.

Woohoo! It’s fun when a fellow racer rises to the challenge of a finishing sprint. I thanked Shiela for the competition and she thanked me for keeping her going. We were just what each other needed.

We headed over to the hall for soup, conversation and sweets. Afterwards I walked back 4 km up hill home, stopping only at the Rogers Video Store to buy a gift. My legs are very tired. 8km walking + 8 km trail racing = 16 km total and feels like I jogged it all the way. I’ll shop tomorrow.



  1. awesome way to help out a fellow runner, karen! well done! and nice push at the finish, too.


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