fuel belt) and every 25 minutes take a gel, alternating Hammer and Powerbar gels. Since they had HEED, I would do the first hour with water and then refill my bottles with HEED.
At 7:30 the 25k group lined up and the Race Director said a few words. The park thanked us for raising over 25 thousand dollars since the Afton Trail Races began, this being the 17th race. Race Director talking again...."Orange flag, green flag, stay left.....GO!". The trail starts off downhill and my backpacking experience really paid off as I found my footing easily and didn't slow much. Everyone quickly settled into a nice pace with plenty of room for passing as we sorted out positions. Then we hit the first hill, and it wasn't steep, but I was using my calf muscles more than I'm used to and had to settle myself into a slower run.
My drinking/gel strategy was working really well and I was feeling good. After a long stretch of flat running along the St. Croix River we turned uphill onto the section called the "Meat Grinder" (map). It was the hardest section for me. It wasn't that steep, but it came at a point in the race when I was most tired and needed my second wind. After the grinder was an aid station and I took a chocolate Hammer gel. The trail turned slightly downhill and I got my running form back, and it was a good thing because we started "Snowshoe Loop". This section was the most technical with grass on the trail hiding what was below. The trail passes under a bridge and then the LAST uphill. The guy running with me says about a minute more once we clear the trees. I take off and check the watch, I could be under 2:45!! My goal was under 3 hours so this is GREAT. Four minutes later I finish in 2:43, per my watch.
Times are now posted: 2:43:51 (10:34 pace), 112 out of 245
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