Date: March 3, 2012
Location: Pig Barn, Danville PA
Weather: Around 40 degrees, windy, sunny to overcast
Gear: Nike Windbreaker, Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek
Two words, awe some.
Let’s start with a back ground to this race to put this in perspective. For the last few years, the home of the race was the Pine Barn Inn and Geisinger Stewardship Forest. From what I understand, Geisinger wouldn’t let the race run on their land, and the Pine Barn Inn couldn’t handle the increasing size of the race. The race organizers scrambled to find a venue to handle the event. I want to be sure to qualify any criticism with mucho love for the organizers. Unfortunately, its human nature to always compare things instead of savor them for what they are. Hence I will try to relegate comparisons to the legacy course to a mere cameo role. Let me get my criticism out of the way before I talk about the great-ness of this race-ness.
First, I think the previous course had more room for packet pickup. It was very crowded to pick up your bib number, t shirt, and timing chip in the Danville school. Maybe next year, combine them into one stop and have better organized lines? Second, there were sections of the new course that backed up worse than any areas in the previous course. All the runners know where I am talking about….that first creek crossing where everyone was going over the log gave everyone a 3 minute break as we waited in line to use the narrow trail. Maybe next year, have alternative routes in such areas where folks can choose a longer, easier route or a shorter more difficult route? Maybe multiple parallel trails would reduce congestion in bottlenecks. My last comment is just to point out it “felt” like there were less climbs on the new course. This may be a good or bad thing depending on your fitness level.
Now for the good stuff. I think the pig barn was a more appropriate venue to start the race in comparison to the PBI. It always felt odd to be walking through in running garb with the Buick crowd dressed for their brunch. The pig barn was an old concrete structure that was nicely cleaned out, with some tables and chairs inside. That was the first floor. We will get to the second floor later.
The course was great. I enjoyed the broad mix of terrain, including corn field, gravel road, fresh side hill single track, old dump, and creek bed. Monotony did not exists on this course! The course was also safe, challenging, and well marked. According to the organizers web site, a private land owner pulled permission to use a tract at the very last minute. Kudos to David Decoteau and his team for pulling a miracle out of there lower gastro-intestinal tract and saving the race!
Here are some highlights:
-The cross fire start. Evens on one side, odds on the other. Make an X by crossing paths in the start shoot. Craziness ensues.
-Running through a cornfield. Don’t get to do this often.
-Mud. Courtesy of a night of rain before the race. I don’t know how many people got shoes pulled off in the mud. I do know at least one bloke literally lost a shoe in a marshy section. As in lost. I don’t think it mattered what kind of shoe used, I think a 6 inch cleat would have been necessary to dig down to find solid ground in many sections.
-Running through the creek bed. As in through the creek bed.
-The finish consisted of climbing into the second story of the pig barn (as in climbing into the second story of the pig barn) and sliding down a slip-n-slide before running through the finish. Choices included cargo net, ladder and rope, climbing wall, and hay pile. I love the fact that the organizers throw caution into the wind in the current over litigious society.
Personally, my goal was only to finish with dignity, to which I succeeded (as in succeeded). Even though I didn’t dog it, I still had a few gallons left in the fuel tank. With just a little more training. I should be able to do the River Town half marathon in May without too much difficulty.
My gear performed well. The KSOs shined in creek crossings as they don’t become anchors when wet like a normal sneaker that holds the water. I also enjoyed the more secure and tight fit when trudging through the sneaker stealing mud. The new venue is decidedly less rocky. It was difficult (painful) to run the previous course downhills because of all the sharp rocks lurking under the leaves. This course had a decidedly softer terrain for minimal shoe sole.
Overall this is a fun fun fun race. Great venue, great course, great laid back and fun-loving vibe. Looks like the race is on for next year since there is already a link for registration on the organizer website.