Yesterday there was another CRR trail race, and I continued my streak to 51. The Weaselhead course is the most beautiful of all the Grand Prix courses in my mind. It uses the Jack Rabbit dirt trail on the south side of the Glenmore Reservoir. I really must run this trail more often.
I showed up for this race two hours early at the sailing clubhouse, where volunteers were already setting up the kitchen and tables. At the previous race two weeks before, I had volunteered to be a course marshal during this race, but I still needed to keep my streak intact, so I set my watch at the usual starting post and trotted out to see how well the course had been marked. Before long I was following a merry trail of bright orange CRR flags into the tree-lined rollercoaster.
Heading into the Jack Rabbit trail I always feel like Alice in Wonderland following a crazy rabbit underground. Even on a sunny day like it was, there was plenty of shade and overhanging branches, and there are some delightfully dramatic descents. Usually I enter the paths with a bunch of other hurried runners during the race. This time it was just me, my imagination, and the ubiquitous orange flags.
I kept an eye out for bunches of flags that signal turns, and even without a volunteer to guide me I remembered where to turn for the 4k loop. I was tempted to continue on to do the 8k, as the paths were in perfect running condition. There was hardly any ice, and just the right amount of hard packed snow providing great traction under my trail shoes and Yaktrax. I kept it short, however, as I had some other commitments this weekend which would be demanding my energy.
The final couple of kilometers coming out of the trail always seem to take a little longer than I think they should, but they’re fun. The challenge is mostly that a runner has been descending so much through the first part of the rolling hills on the course, that on the way back the uphills are much bigger than the dips between them. Just like in Alice in Wonderland, I feel like I’ve eaten something that made the hills bigger in relation to myself. And then in contrast, towards the very end, there are low overhanging branches that make me feel I’ve grown too big for the trail.
Eventually I emerged from the trees and ran across the uneven crusty snow back to the starting post. Just as I finished (at 29 minutes by my watch), Derek showed up to do his pre-run. It was like a shift change. I’m done – your turn. I headed back to the hall, changed into some warm dry clothes and munched a bit while chatting with arriving racers.
Instead of course marshal, I got to help Derek out at the finish line with the clock. Heck, I even got to START the clock! Fun stuff 🙂 Little Runner and I cheered and handed out timing sticks to finishers as they crossed the finish line. Race Director Rob had some fun towards the end as he ran in with a huge bunch of orange flags held high, like an Olympic torch.
Once we had welcomed the last runner in, we headed back to the hall for soup and dessert. There wasn’t much choice of soup left, but Gerri had reserved a nice hot pot of chili for volunteers. It was a great day to have helped out.
The next and last race in the series is in two weeks, on March 6. The race director, Karen C. (the other Karen C. not me), is calling for course marshals and soups. I might pre-run that one too.