Over the l o n g weekend, my family and I were able to spend a few days about an hour from home.
Conveniently, one of our relatives lives within a few miles of a little trail network that just happens to be where there is an upcoming trail race. :)
So, without too much preparation I laced up for a couple of back-to-back days of "potential course preview."
I spent the first day running for about an hour before sunset, wandering around and scaring some people who were on horseback.
There is some etiquette to be followed with horses, and I was on the equestrian/hiker section, so I tried to be polite and announce myself- swinging wide as to not spook the ponies. Without a map, I decided not to get more than 2 miles from the parking lot, so I did a few different out-and-backs to "scout" the trails.
Somehow I managed to roll my ankle, but not severely enough to hobble back to the car. Thank God.
The second day offered me a lot more time (and light) to find the course I was really after.
Nice rocky crossing about 2-3 miles from where the race should start
Before taking off, I noticed a crew of people at the base of Mt. Pisgah who were dressed in running garb. I circled back and asked if they were having a good run, (they were running to the top and back down, about 1000ft in 1.5 miles up), then realized I recognized a few from a recent trail race.
As we chatted, one of the men generously offered me a copy of his maps to the trails at Pisgah, which I had meant to bring along- but had printer problems. I was very grateful and took one of each.
Many of the trails had numbers marked on them which corresponded with the maps, some were unmarked.
There's a nice bit of rolling trail, some very flat gravel road, and some other trails that are much more at the difficult end of the spectrum. Plenty of variety to suit any preference can be found.
Looking at Mt. Pisgah from the South end.
(Unless I was totally disoriented, which is completely possible.)
Steeple chase anyone?
After I worked my way back towards the base of the peak- which really is just a big, big hill- I was rewarded with a nice woodsy tromp.
Trail shoes are advised, unless you like it thick and caked on. :)
There are some sections which are very narrow, and the odd runner might have to choose between getting muddy or risk tangling with the blackberry thorns.
And then the trail headed up the back of the mountain through a gorgeous section of forest, (lovely this time of year, but would be heavenly in the heat of summer).
Looking backwards over what I just ran through.
And reaching the top, there is an opening to a totally different landscape, and a connection to the main summit trail.
The trails join at about halfway up to the peak of Mt. Pisgah, but my path headed down.
Gear notes: I brought my fuel belt with 20 oz of water, which was ample for a 50f day. Inside I carried some Honeystinger gels, a space blanket, my camera, and a whistle. I always pack my own toilet paper. :)
Course assessment: This is going to be one doozie of a race if I decide to do it. The terrain is easy in some spots and rough in others. My pace varied from 8:30 miles to 12:40. They run a 50K on this that would separate the men from the boys. haha. Ten miles was more than enough for me right now in the state I am in.
Should be a good one to run or watch!
Status report: My peroneal tendons are aggravated after these 2 runs. Given my history with them, I'm taking a few days off. I might hit the pool tomorrow (calling it a pro-active choice to Pre-Hab my legs) instead of my new regular "trail Tuesday".
Do you like to preview a course before you race it?
I'm not big on surprises.. :)
Did you race recently? I'd love to hear about it!