What better way to celebrate June 5th: National Trails Day than with the second race in the 2010 Chicago Trail Series (CTS)?
The rain was gracious enough to hold off the prior evening all the way through race day registration and packet pickup. This was key to getting the 160+ participants out of bed and over to Cook County’s Deer Park Forest Preserve early Saturday morning. Just as critical was the downpour that started about five minutes before the gun – what better way to enjoy the trails than soaking wet and with plenty of mud?
The approximately 8k/5Mi course was primarily dirt and crushed limestone doubletrack, with a healthy dose of mud and puddles thanks to the rain! Mile 4 featured a beautiful stretch of singletrack – tight turns with crisco-like mud keeping everyone on their toes, and more than a few folks on the ground! (The race director tells me that they used to have the whole race on the singletrack trails, but trail rehabilitation and the growing number of participants forced them off onto the doubletrack for fear of trail degradation – too bad.)
One of the perks of supporting these races and running the Montrail Demo (in addition to talking with folks about trailrunning and shoes, obviously) is the opportunity to jump in the race and call it “work”! It’s almost like being a sponsored athlete, except you don’t have to be that good.
I had a solid race, hanging onto 6th place through much of the course, keeping a couple of the teenage cross-country punks just barely visible on the straightaways. I managed to make up some serious time on one of the kids through the mile of singletrack and struggled physically and mentally to close the gap going into the last mile. Checking the watch, I knew we were getting close and dug deep sprinting past him just before the last hairpin turn – on the wet grass – and into the field with the finish chute. Now it was on with 100m to go, but I managed to hold him off with 4/10th of a second to spare to clinch 5th overall! Haven’t had a finish like that since the high school days!
Everyone seemed to enjoy the trails and the rain, and there was significantly more interest in the Montrail demos after the race. Guy with worn-out road shoes: “So, you mean to tell me I wouldn’t have fallen as much in these Montrail?” We have three more races in the series and three more opportunities to demo Montrail shoes – we’ll see you in July!