Dirty Spokes Trail Race – report

This past Sunday I did my first ever organized run event, the Dirty Spokes Oak Mountain Trail Run.  I opted for the 10K distance, as the 5K just seemed a little too short to make it worthwhile.

It was mighty cold prior to the race….in the upper 30s according to my phone while I was picking up my race packet.  It had warmed into the 40s by the time the race began at 8:30, and likely was in the 50s by 10:00.

Though it wasn’t part of the original plan, the 10K and 5K racers all started together (5K was supposed to be a few minutes later).  This wasn’t so bad at the start since I was near the front anyway, but soon would be a major pain in the butt once on the trail.  The 10K racers got onto a trail first, while the 5K racers went a little further up the road and took a shorter trail.  Both sets of racers converged near where Rattlesnake Ridge meets the Family Trail, and due to the shorter trail headstart, that meant the vast majority of the 10K racers were stuck behind the majority of the 5K racers.  This really slowed me down on the easy flat trails of Mr. Toad’s and Foreplay.  I was forced to dodge around trees and hop over any obstacle possible in order to pass as many of the slower racers as I could.

Luckily, by the time the race hit the pavement climb up Peavine Falls Road I had managed to distance myself from most of the 5K racers and settled into a group of 3 other 10Kers.  We continued up Peavine Falls Road until we hit the bottom of Quarry Road (BUMP trail).  From there, the four of us stayed together up the long slow climb towards Blood Rock.  By the time we hit Blood Rock, our group was down to 3 and the pace had slowed a little more than I liked.  After walking up Blood Rock, I began running again and passed one of the other races at the start of Jekyll and Hyde.

The upper portion of Jekyll and Hyde is not what I consider a fun trail, whether running or riding….but definitely easier to run (at least for me).  After about a quarter of a mile I passed the last guy in my group and continued on by myself.  Eventually the trail smoothed out and became a series of steep rolling hills.  Near one of the valleys, the race diverted onto the Green trail, which went up a steep incline before leveling out a bit.  It was here that we were once again paired with the 5K runners.  While it slowed me a down a little, for the most part the trail was wide and passing was easy.

At the end of the Green trail we picked up a trail that I had never been on….not too steep except for one location, and not too rocky.  It was at this point that a costly fall on some rocks would knock the wind out of me and bang me up pretty bad.  It also cost me position, as a bearded guy ended up passing me.  But I really didn’t care, since I was just trying to have a decent placing in my age group for my first race….I would have been happy with a top 5 finish.

But little did I know that I had been running the last couple of miles of the race in first place, and that bearded guy was in my age group and ended up taking the win.  Oh well, next time I will know the course a little better and will also get out there to do some training.  The majority of the runs I’ve been doing (I average once a week, which basically started in mid August) have been on relatively flat roads and cross country trails at Spain Park High School.  That sort of “training” didn’t adequately prepare me for the steep technical hills at Oak Mountain.  But if there is a positive, I now feel confident that with some actual training miles under my legs I might be able to do well in some other races.  I am really looking forward to being able to do some more running events, whether it is on the trail or on pavement (though trail preferred).

2nd Place in 40-44 age group

large hip bruise still very evident after 5 days.


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