Never was a race more aptly named than this: WTF. Sure, it’s the Winter Trail Festival. Sure it is. On race morning it was 9.8 degrees and snowing. Those that know Amber and I know that, not only do we not “brave” the cold and the snow but we also do not generally run trails. So why then was I putting screws into retired running shoes? Why was I putting on thick socks, wind briefs, tights, shorts (the shorts are for modesty), 5 shirts, one thick winter wind breaker jacket, gloves, a hat, and hand warmers? With great trepidation we packed into the car and headed for the trails.
I knew we’d see many people we’ve come to know as friends at this race. We tried to get to the event early enough to see all of the races start but matters outside of our control prevented that. It is always nice to see friendly and familiar faces but I wonder if that would have even mattered much in this crowd? A woman I’ve never met before gladly offered a nip of Jamseson from her flask. I was able to enjoy that along with a small amount of vodka that Amber mixed into her pre-race hydration. Yes, clearly, hard liquor just before a difficult physical event is a good idea. Clearly it’s an even better choice when the air is so cold that even water gives up and ceases to move. Or, perhaps it is a good choice since the freezing point is so much lower. Regardless, we started the race happy. It wasn’t the alcohol but the company.
This was my fifth trail run in my life. It was my third trail race. I’d love to pretend that I didn’t push and that this was an easy race but I would be lying.
The terrain was hard for me as a road runner. The downhills tested my sense of adventure and willingness to get injured. The uphills made my lungs scream! I reached a crest and had the thought that never in my life had my heart rate been so high after “just” walking.
I was happy to finish and I heard that I was “nothing but smiles.” I think I made a mistake and indulged in soup when it wasn’t intended for the participants of the five mile race. If I was wrong in having the soup I apologize.
Most of all I took away from this race the love of running. I thought a lot about the time that was spent on this race. No one made money on this (except perhaps ultrasignup.com or whatever it was that took almost a 100% cut of the race fee). This race existed because there are people that love to run. There are people that love to run and love to share that experience and will work through the night to make that happen for other runners.
I am proud to associate with people like that.
Most photos courtesy of Alex Tong.