I’ve been training for the Augusta Half Marathon for the past several weeks and been wishing for some variety on my long runs. Low and behold, on the day before the sold-out Frogtown Trail Challenge I was fortunate enough to get a friend of a friend’s number. Perfect! A 10 mile trail run should be nice on my bones… or so I thought. I had trail run before, been tossed around on a mountain bike, and even had a few marathons under my belt, but I never ran a race quite like the Frogtown Trail Challenge.
It was a cool, dewy fall morning and ideal weather for the race. The race was capped at 600 entrants (for both the 4-mile and 10-mile events), a manageable sized crowd, but despite this event being called a “challenge” rather than a “race” I knew I was certainly among many serious runners when we got into our corrals. After a quick prayer–the event benefited World Children’s Center and Christian Runners–the race started and into the woods we sped. Very quickly we encountered the first stream crossing and hill scramble. No one really slowed down, including myself, this trail running stuff is extreme!
Then I saw signs saying “Fear the Hill.” Ugh, we hadn’t even run two miles yet and everyone had slowed to a crawl, literally, up a nearly vertical cliff. After the hill I made up some time and got to the three-mile mark around 29 minutes. Right on track, I thought. I had hoped to run at least a 10-minute/mile pace. Suddenly a guy in an ATV rides by saying something about a cargo net. A cargo net? Yup. We had to scale a cargo net that was draped over a large fallen tree in the trail. This race was crazy and I had only gone three miles!
And it got even crazier–around the half-way point we had to run about a mile through a creek. The creek was twisty and rocky in places and I had to duck underneath several low branches or logs. I made the mistake of passing another runner by skipping a turn and cutting through the creek bed, but then I found myself too far from the next runner in front of me. The water was murky and choppy which made it hard to pick a good line. It was also hard to spot any deep spots. I got tripped up in one or two deep spots and though I was able to catch myself with my hands, I still got soaked up to my chest. I was happy to be out of the water and next time I’ll be sure to follow someone and let them find the bad spots for me. Some people were smart enough to change their shoes after the creek run, but I ran the next 4-5 miles with squishy shoes full of sand.
The rest of the race had more hills and tons of logs a foot or higher to leap over. Overall the Frogtown trail race course was technical yet flowed well; this race puts Muddy Buddy to shame. The “obstacles” at Frogtown seemed sporadically placed but natural giving the course its good flow. This race really demanded a lot of physical and mental energy. Its easy to mentally tune out on road runs, but not paying attention during a race like this could lead to a serious disaster. Somehow two days later my back is still sore from running at Frogtown, I used muscles like I never have before in other races. The soreness is worth it though, especially for finishing among the Top 10 Females! See you next year at Frogtown!