With so many awesome races produced locally, it’s sometimes hard to break the routine and fit something new into the calendar. However, when Mountain Goat Adventures (producer of my one of my favorite events, the Blankets Creek DIrty Duathlon) expanded their event calendar to include some trail runs, I knew I’d be heading south to Georgia a few more times this year.
The Sutallee Trace Trail Challenge had something for everyone: a kids race, a 4 mile run, and a 10 miler for those really wanting to suffer. Starting on the trails of Boling Park near downtown Canton, we began with tight singletrack along the Etowah River – scenic, although the humidity was thick and kept all the roots and rocks quite slick (as well as the many wooden bridges we had to cross). We then had a series of climbs (deceptively small, but wow did they add up and take a toll on your legs!), before reaching a forest service road that followed a ridgeline for awhile. Here we got a much needed break to catch our breath and stretch the legs out – even more important with the graceful superman dive I performed after being clotheslined by a root. I am SO thankful it was in an area padded thickly with pine needles! At the time, I had been setting pace for a group of 5 or 6 runners. Everyone stopped to make sure I was ok, even getting my water bottle that had been flung aside. (trail runners are so nice!)
The ridge road meandered for awhile and we all seemed to push eachother a bit. Secretly, I think we were feeling the heat rise and just wanted to reach the finish line (& chilled watermelon) faster! We eventually looped back onto the tight singletrack that would lead us to the park. While it was a welcome sight, we definitely had to stay on our toes not to wipe out on the roots in the final miles.
My finish was for the (slightly short of) 10 mile course was 1:40:34, placing me 6th overall for the womens race (and 1st in my age group). I was super pleased to be that close to these speedy GA ladies! (The 3-time winner of last weekend’s half marathon was 3rd!) Fellow Rock/Creek Race Team member Sheridan also made the trek down with his girlfriend Lori, both having great days (10th overall/1st age group, and 3rd age group respectively).
Definitely keep MGA events (both trail running & mountain biking) in your mind for the future – this husband/wife duo are well organized, have great sponsors & support, and strive to put on a race that they would want to race themselves.
Race day gear:
Montrail Mountain Masochist, Smartwool socks, Patagonia Draft Tank, Patagonia Multi Use Skirt, Headsweats hat, Ultimate Directions handheld filled with nuun and Gu along the way!