Thursday, December 06, 2012

Ohio Outside Trail Series

This fall, I decided to sign up for the Ohio Outside Trail Series, which was three races at Munroe Falls Metro Parks. I did all three, so I figured a little review was appropriate.

Swag: Signing up for all three ($65) got me a sweatshirt and four pint glasses (one for each race plus one for finishing the series). At each race, the pint glass had a couple of goodies, usually Emergen-C, a Gu and a mini-deodorant. Useful stuff and no stupid flyers! Race day registration is quick and you might end up with an old pint glass, but you'll still get one. And, thanks to online reg fees, I think race day reg is actually cheaper than online reg for a single race. Post-run, there are big coolers of water, cider (from Totally Cooked) and Gatorade, along with PB&J (yum), bagels, bananas, etc.

The Course: The course starts at the pavilion and is two loops of the Indian Spring Trail and then back toward the pavilion. The website says it's about 5 miles, but each time I did it, my Garmin indicated between 4.4 and 4.5. According to my Garmin, you gain 446 feet in elevation, so it's hilly, but they're rolling. There were no hills that were super-tough, and I found that the beginning of the loop is more difficult than the end.

The one thing that's tricky at the end of the loop is the stairs. I am super-careful about stairs and usually walk them when I'm trail-running. I definitely walked them the first two races, but on the third, I did more of an awkward hop-skip thing. And coming off the stairs, you cross a little bridge that could get slippery. In between loops is the water stop, so little cups of water line this bridge as you run through. I took water during the first and third races and didn't on the second.

We were very lucky on the weather, and the last weather probably had the best weather of all -- sunny and high 30s. The course had some muddy portions, but didn't get too slippery overall. I wore my Brooks PureFlows for the first race and my PureGrits for the second and third. I definitely felt more confident in the PureGrits, but I also love those shoes so much -- I love really feeling the course.

My Experience: I ran all three races, and I significantly improved my time from the first (11:36 pace) to the third (10:34). I will admit that I was a bit of a wimp, but doing the race three times also helped a lot. I knew the course better -- and was ballsier on the stairs at the end of the loop.
I was pretty disappointed at coming in over 50 minutes on the first race (50:47) and wanted to come in under 50 on the second. A rookie mistake -- not double-knotting my shoes -- thwarted that attempt, so although I decreased my time in the second race, I was still just over 50 (50:19). I was better prepared for #3 and came in under 47 (46:50). I'm pretty sure I could do better though, especially given how how much I improved from #1 to #3 (basically a minute off per mile).

10.20.12Munroe Falls Trail Race #1 (4.4 miles)50:4711:36
11.17.12Munroe Falls Trail Race #2 (4.4 miles)50:1911:26
12.01.12Munroe Falls Trail Race #3 (4.4 miles)46:5010:34

Bottom Line: It's a small race -- each one had fewer than 200 runners -- and it's pretty casual. This is more a "fun" race and there is no chip-timing. It's the deal where you cross the finish line and they take the bottom strip off your bib. It's fun seeing the same people -- and it's also fun picking out the same people to chase/beat during the race. I loved this series and this course.

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