Earlier this summer I ran my first trail race. My less-than-always-graceful self has a hard enough time not rolling an ankle on pavement and I avoided doing any real trail running up until that point. But for some reason, I decided it was time to try something new and I ran the VERT Race Series Sasquatch, a 2.35 mile trail race at the DCR Middlesex Fells. The race was surprisingly fun and while I by no means said goodbye to the urban asphalt, the experience left me open to, at the very least, trying to again.
This weekend I ran my 2nd career trail race. Figuring I would stick to what I know (sort of), I registered for another trail race put on by VERT Race Series, the Big Bad Wolf. This 5 mile race runs through Wolf Hollow in Ipswich, MA, and raises money for their foundation.
To be honest, I was not sure at all what I was getting into. I didn’t spend much time looking into the course, and the only thing I really knew about it was that it was relatively flat. The race had a slightly odd start time, beginning at 12:00pm, though perhaps that was to help encourage the post-race party sponsored by several local craft breweries.
The race follows the Maplecroft Trail, consisting of mostly grass fields and dirt roads. The course was much less “trail-y” than the previous race I had run. However, evidently used by horses, the trails had a different kind of obstacle that kept me focused on where I might step next.
The trail grounds were pretty, wide open fields. The race course consisted of 2 large loops around 2 smaller fields. I crossed some parts of the course as many as 4 times, making it feel like I was running in circles (because I was). I could always see runners ahead of me, but because of the multiple loops, I was never really sure if I was ahead of them or not.
One thing I have not quite gotten used to with these trail races is the narrowness of the paths on which to run. While any road race can get a bit congested, especially in the beginning, runners seem to spread out as the course moves along. Perhaps it was my own fault for starting a bit further back than I should have, but I got stuck twice at bottlenecks within the first mile and stood waiting for my turn to pass through a narrow entry.
What the race may have lacked in terms of the course, it more than made up for with the post-race party. VERT Race Series is establishing a reputation for fun, social race events. The race had awards for fastest team times, encouraging runners to sign up with their friends.
There was also a costume contest, with prizes for the best wolf-related running costume. I’m not sure who won but I hope this guy got a prize.
Big Bad Wolf put another notch in my trail-running belt. Take my newbie opinion for what it’s worth, but I preferred the course at VERT Sasquatch in the Fells to the course at the Big Bad Wolf, though I would rather run a 5 miler instead of a race over in just 2.35 miles. Either way, I think both races were pretty well-suited for my inexperience and think both offer a nice introduction to trail running, for those, like me, a little nervous to run off the roads. And regardless of finishing first or last, I think everyone had a good time after they crossed the finish line.
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