Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Designing the 10km Trail Championship course. Is this guy crazy? Your job to keep me Sane.

What is too hard?  Does such a thing even exist?  Want to have some input into a Trail Championship course?  What is Jason talking about?
East Coast Hills - Reading, PA
See you in a couple of weeks.

I am doing some races at Beech Mountain this year with one of those races being the USA 10km Trail Championships.  Thus I have been working on laying out a new course.  At my new site there are options of twisting single track multi-use trails, grassy ski slopes, wide tree covered trails between slopes, and some primitive off the mountain single track trails.  My previous race, Continental Divide Trail Race, got to be known for its challenging layout.  I like challenging courses.  When I think "Trail Championship", I think about, well... trails, mountain trails.  I actually looked up the definition of trail, which of course there are several definitions of trail.  Plus we use the word trail in many ways and add bike trail, horse trail, but I digress.  The definition from Free Dictionary was "a marked or beaten path, as through the woods or wilderness."  I like words like "beaten," "woods," "wilderness."  Merriam-Webster defined trail as "a track made by passage especially through a wilderness; a marked or established path or route especially through a forest or mountainous region."  Again words like "mountainous," I like that.  "Trail Championship" to me doesn't mean a run through the local park that requires basically the same skill set a running on the road.  Nothing against running on the road, but my sport is "trail" running.  IT IS a different skill set.  Trail running has very little to do with setting a rhythm and getting in a groove.  It is the antithesis of rhythm.  Trails are all about irregular, off-balance steps, so do you have the skills to maintain speed on that.  Trail racing is about the ability to constantly shift gears, from a grinding uphill hike, to nearly flat out speed across a ridge or valley, to almost unconscious plummets downhill, and so on.  Trail racing is a mental exercise of constant focus, yet loss of time or distance traveled.  Trails often travel irregular terrain to get somewhere inconvenient often up and down steep grades.  Trails are about taking a path less traveled.  Maybe I will have to stop writing now because I've made myself want to go for a run in the mountains.

Okay I'll keep writing for now and look forward to running some Moab, UT trails this weekend.  Alison says I can take things too far.  I would disagree, but I do have to acknowledge that after listening to others comments about me for 40 years, I am an extreme personality.  I had learned to keep some of my thoughts, and activities, to myself.  Though when I found the trail community, I found my people.  Quite a few in the trail community seem to find me almost normal.  Well maybe at least not too out there by their standards.  So anyway, about laying out the course for the 10km Trail Championships.  I took Alison to run my idea for the course.  I think she knew that it would tough, but she thought it may be a little too tough.  I'll confess that I love to virtually dive straight off a mountain or grind straight back up, which you can see below.  It is the shortest, quickest way down or up.  But this route has a 1/2 mile 20% descent that Alison thought was a bit much.  I just said, "Bend your knees more and think quick feet.  It's kind of the position of downhill skiing, but you're running."  This descent was followed by a 1/4 mile run on a fireroad, then a 3/10 climb at 30%.  Yes, it goes straight up the mountain.  So does this sound like too much?




Just look at that beautiful dip!
A friend, Ryan Woods, has agreed to go out to preview the course with me.  He has said that I hate road runners.  Not true, I love trails and mountains.  I've never seen a mountain too big or a trail too hard.  Not to say that I won't someday, but not yet.  But I don't care for road runners complaining about trail running not being running.  For my previous Continental Divide course, Bobby Mack converted that track and road speed into a win, a second, and a third on that tough trail course.  Another great example is Max King.  He has run fast on road and track(6th in the steeple at the 2012 Olympic Trials), plus is the 2011 World Champion at mountain running.  Don't tell me that covering hard mountainous trails has nothing to do with speed.  I'll have to ask Max for his opinion.  But here is your chance to give me your opinion.  Help me plan the USA 10km Trail Championship course at Beech Mountain.  Seriously, I want your input.  Don't be afraid to be honest, Alison gives it to me all the time.  You can tell me that I'm a psychopath, just let me know that you like said psychopath.  I will take any input into consideration, but I reserve the right of final decision.  As I see it, my opinion and that of Joyce Hodges-Hite are top of the list.  She is 70+ and has finished Continental Divide every year winning her age group.  Her opinion will carry a lot of weight as I want a course she would do.  Finally, keep in mind that challenging trails are just my opinion of what are fun trails.  I like the challenge and beauty offered on most tougher courses.  I believe variety is good, if others like more tame trails, that is the course they should design.  I have no problem with parks or gentle paths, just this is my idea of what a trail championship race should be.  But I would like it to be an event others like as well, thus my call for your opinions.

Interview on MTN 18

15 comments:

  1. you make it hard not to love you!

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  2. Thanks Derek, I hope you still say that after running the race. Or maybe I'll be even more lovable? Or it'll show that I need more love.

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  3. Let's do it and comment on the difficulty later :)

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    1. I like your attitude. Though I feel the need to consider others with this race. Maybe not at my Beech Mountain Madness race in Oct.

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  4. All I want to know is if the course is photogenic. Anthony and I are going to try our best to be there. I have never run up or down a 20, or 30% grade. I like the idea of making the course tough. I think. Maybe I just like the idea of making it tough for other people. Could it be an optional climb for style points? They have that in USATF right?

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    1. Should have some photogenic sections, plus a place or two to see runner twice or more. If there were style points, I'd win everything. Might be why USATF hasn't instituted that. I love running down and up steep grades. It's a personality thing.

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  5. I have never done a trail race, but some other crazy person suggested we "think" about this one. That nearly mile long "beautiful dip" made me cringe-as in my toe nails would be gone for sure, and maybe an ankle or a knee. So I am a whimp...but then I like running on the road and hiking in the mountains.

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    1. Doing is definitely better than thinking. You can someday sit and talk about the challenges that you passed on or... make some lasting memories. This will be a race you talk about for years, forever. Not more unmemorable, tame asphalt.

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    2. anonymoose, i was a non-runner who liked running slow flat miles at salem lake (in winston... read FLAT). a few years ago when my friend and i saw that a national championship was going to be right up the road we stumbled upon c.d (this race's daddy). we finished last and second to last... almost died (ok, didn't almost die). it was horrible. SO horrible that we are both now mountain runners, mountain junkies, mountian race race directors... do it... you'll hate it and you'll want to do it again and again and again and again and again and again and again :)

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  6. I'll likely have other plans for that day, which sucks, but I saw some race video for Beech Mountain and wondered how much would be single track. (The video did not show single track until a few miles into a 10k on an out-and-back, with a significant portion on roads in the early going, if I remember correctly.)

    Mike K

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    1. The video was likely for an Xterra race? It will be about 1/2 mile to the trails in the beginning and 1/2 mile back to finish. I'll reduce that if possible. There will be about 3 miles of single track, depends on that dip or not. There will be some fireroad and open grass as well.

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  7. Can't believe that I'm just now running across your blog. Anyway, make this thing tough as you can. I love the big dip that you have in there. I would definitely be willing to come out and do a test run of your course as is and give you my thoughts. Looks like the best 10k profile I've seen in awhile. By the way, I'm the dude that came in 5th at Uwharrie this year. I introduced myself briefly I think...

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  8. Loved the course last year at the Divide. The climb at the end of the race was one of the best I have ever participated in. It was the first time in a race that I passed somebody while being on all 4's. Bring it on for Beech as it is a local race for me. Do you think the Goat this weekend will be more challenging than the Bear? If so, I may come out. By the way did you get the Goat name from the BRR?

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  9. Hey Alan,
    Will the Goat be more challenging than the Bear? I always hate to say that my races are the toughest and I don't say that. The Goat and the Bear happen to be about the same distance. The Bear averages a little over 6% grade with steeper sections and has around 1600' - 1700' of climbing. The Goat's main climb averages a little over 12% grade and has around 1500' of total climbing, plus you come down that same amount. Your time will be slower at the Goat than the Bear, maybe 10 minutes. I will warn folks at the start line to not expect it to be like the Bear. Everyone will realize that shortly into the race. With that said, the Goat is a good break into serious mountain running as it climbs up to 2.35 mile mark and then it is mostly down.

    I hope you come join us and be sure to introduce yourself.
    The name was just a good name for a mountain race.
    jb

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  10. I ran the Divide last year and really enjoyed it. I stayed at one of the cabins onsite and one of my roommates was much younger, much fitter and placed. Even he concluded it was one of the toughest races he's done.
    Your proposed elevation map above looks brutal. That's not a problem or a negative though. Is that last ascent even runnable? The big V in the middle is definitely going to be the major tactical element of the race. I'd be interested in a section by section description and or pictures of the course. Living in Greenville, my hill training will likely be limited to stadiums, but we all do what we have to do.
    Look forwrds to racing again.

    Bob

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