Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sylamore Trail 50.... er 25K

The night before, Friday Feb 14 2014, reports started hitting FaceBook about the condition of the trail.  Fields and pastures were still covered with snow from the recent, or winter long deep freeze with which AR has been blessed.

We were told during the pre-race brief that due to trail conditions we would have the option of turning around at the 25K turn around point, doing the 25K and still getting an official finish instead of a 50K DNF.  I had been very stressed about the idea of a 50K because of my winter of improper training, so this was welcome news.  

The course starts at The Angler Cafe/gas station in Allison, AR.  We run a mile on pavement, then cross the Sylamore Creek to get to the single track trail.  With the trail conditions as they were there was a very long line of people waiting to get on the trail. 

Creek Crossing, water level was low this year. 
The trail was slippery, sloppy and ice covered.  Many of the places along the path there was a traffic jam because the ice was challenging to navigate.

One of many challenging sections of the trail.
 After getting past the slickest, most icy spots I thought I could go on and do the 50K.  That thinking changed after passing the aid station at Blanchard Springs.  After climbing the trail out of Blanchard Springs the trail was snow covered.  That is no problem if one is out there alone.   I have run it many times snowy.  But with hundreds of people on the trail it gets all churned up.  With every step forward there is slippage back, kind of like running on sand.  The snow was slick off the trail so when we would move over to let people pass there was a risk of falling.
With all of this I was very happy to listen to wisdom of those more experienced to turn around at the 25K turn around.  

Almost done with the race, please don't fall!
The sun came out, things warmed up and the frozen parts of the trail became muddy, suck your shoes off muddy.  The mud seemed to be just as slippery as the ice.  

Finish line, slowest 25K ever, but an epic adventure!
This race was an epic adventure.  I was very happy to see the finish line though.  Wow, this 25K was a grinder, two days later I feel like I did do a 50K. 

Its 12 days from the Little Rock Marathon.  I'm not ready, but will choose to enjoy the experience.