Last weekend I ran the Marsh Creek Raptor Trail Run in Downingtown, PA. This was the first trail run I had ever done and I was a bit anxious about it. I went into the run thinking the trail would be a dirt path through the woods, but little did I realize it was more of steep inclines, lots of rocks and many fallen tree branches. I totally looked ill prepared when I showed up in my running skirt. I was at Marshall’s a few weeks ago and saw this running skirt for $14.99 and snagged it up. I’m sure there is a great debate about running skirts because, well running in a skirt just seems like an oxymoron. I wanted to try a running skirt because sometimes my shorts bunch up in the front causing me to have to readjust all the time and it drives me crazy. With a running skirt, there was no readjusting needed!
Needless to say, the run was about 40 minutes from my house and luckily Joe drove me, because I always get nervous before a run and would hate to have to figure out where I were going and be nervous for the run at the same time. We made a wrong turn once or twice on the drive down, which did have me biting my fingernails. Whoops. We arrived at the race at 8:40 and it started at 9:00. I like to get to a race at least 45 minutes before it starts to get acclimated, but this time that wasn’t happening. Fortunately, the race was really small and I walked right up to the registration table, picked up my things and was on my way.
For this run, you paid the same amount to run the 5 miles as you did the 10 miles and this allowed you to make the decision while running which distance you wanted to run. I went to the run thinking I am definitely doing the 10, but after about half way through the run, I had second thoughts. The race was way more challenging than I expected with many steep uphill climbs and I felt like the 5 mile course was just enough.
Here are the positives about a trail run:
- Hilly and rocky courses are a nice change of pace from running on the street/pavement.
- Nature is a beautiful thing, you can take it all in on a trail run.
- Trail runs are marked with chalk and flags making it almost like a treasure hunt.
- Crossing over fallen trees and streams adds more challenge to your workout.
- You get muddy and feel like a real hardcore runner!
Here are the negatives about a trail run:
- You can easily over turn your ankle (I know from experience)
- Some of the steep inclines are very difficult to run up.
- If the trail is narrow, passing other runners is hard.
- Not as many water stations are set up.
- Doing any loop 2 times can be monotonous (possibly just for this run, not all)
- Bottlenecks occurred 2 times because of narrow path – you were at a complete stop
Overall, I really enjoyed the trail run. I liked the rockiness of it and felt like it was a total challenge. I felt like after 5 miles of trail running I had completed 10! It was really neat to enjoy nature and run at the same time. I am used to running in my neighborhood or even on the treadmill, so again it was a really nice changed of scenery. I definitely want to do more trail runs for all of the positive reasons listed above. I think running a trail run is enjoyable, too because you aren’t worried about your time as much as you are completing the race safely. I really slowed down when I got to parts that were extremely rocky with a steep incline for my own safety. Many people took their time on these parts of the race because finishing the race strong is more important than finishing injured or not finishing at all. I liked not worrying about my time in the race because most of the time when I am doing a race, that’s all I am focused upon: time, time, time. I did finish the run in 49 minutes and 10 seconds. Not bad for a 5 mile trail run with rocks, steep inclines, fallen branches, streams, and many more obstacles!
Have you ever done a trail run? What were your experiences?