Saturday, July 3, 2010

Afton Trail Run - 25k Race Report

I woke up to use the bathroom and since it was 4:30, figured I might as well stay up.  And so the day began.  After adding sunscreen, band-aids and anti-chaffing lotion I was ready to eat.  My prefered pre-race meal is Oatmeal Squares (with kiwi, banana, and blueberries) and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (on one slice of bread, and the peanut butter/jelly had no added sugar).  I grabbed my bag and was at Afton State Park in no time.  The sun was coming up and looked like a ball of fire just over the horizon.  The weather was great with overcast sky and a slight breeze.  Packet pickup was easy to find and the bathrooms had a short line (when I went). 

Race Strategy:  Every 10 minutes take a sip of water (I wore my 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. 

The course was beautiful and had many spots to enjoy the view while still making sure your feet would land safely.  They must have cut the grass along the trials for us because it seemed well maintained, the fire roads too.  Even the single track didn't seem to technical.  Overall the course was great with good transitions from uphill to flat and then downhill.

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

Other Afton posts:
Live Life. Be Passionate  Afton Trail Race 2010
Run. Race. Repeat.  "Hey, I Know That Guy!"
Westy's Running  Afton 25k?
...mostly just running  Afton Trail Run 25K 2010
North Woods Trail Running  Afton 25K 2010
Dances with Dirt  Some Like it Hot = Afton 50k
Running Injury Free  Afton Trail Run
Afton Runner  Afton Trail Race 2010


  1. Good race, glad you enjoyed it. I will have to follow-up with you on where to run in San Jose as I will be going back.

  2. Awesome Job Mark! I am glad that you enjoyed the trail race. I know several other bloggers who were also doing Afton. I love the medal:)

  3. Great job! Now you are tail runner! Sounds like it came naturally to you. Congrats!

  4. Nice job on your first trail run! Got any other dirt runs planned?