Racing a 25k trail run is probably not the smartest move when in the middle of 1 mile/ 5k training but I just couldn’t resist. This race has been on my radar the past few years but for one reason or another it hasn’t worked out. One year it was sold out, another we were traveling, and then last year I was injured. This year the only “issue” was that it was on our 17th anniversary. I ran the idea by John and he was up for a short getaway to northwest Arkansas so I registered. I think it’s the only race I’ve ever run on our anniversary and I will be sure to remember this one!
We left the kids with my in-laws and drove to Bentonville Friday afternoon. This race has packet pick-up at the Rush Running store and we made it with about 5 minutes to spare! I’m glad we picked up my bib and chip Friday because it would have been too crazy race morning.
We were going to try a local Italian restaurant for dinner but in the end decided on one of our classic favorites- Red Lobster. It did not disappoint! Then we headed to our hotel in Rogers.
Race morning we left the hotel around 5:20 so we could get to the race start which is located at the War Eagle Mill by 5:45. There were so many more runners than I envisioned and they were from all over the place!
There were only 5 or 6 portapotties so I spent about 30 minutes in line but was able to make it out just in time for the trail briefing. The main thing that makes me nervous about trail running is getting lost. The race director seemed pretty confident that it was impossible to get lost on this course because it was so well marked. I can honestly say he was right. If I could successfully find my way to the finish line I think anyone can!
The trails had many twists and turns but were very easy to navigate. Around mile 4 the lead female fell but said she was fine. She told me and the guy who was running right behind me to go on so we did. She had someone with her and it turned out she was running the 50k anyway. Sometime after mile 6 was the first aid station and I filled up my water bottle. I ran with 2 other guys about a quarter mile on a gravel road and then we headed back into the woods on another section of the trail. I noticed I was able to pass other runners more often during the climbs but on the downhill I had to push just to keep up. By the time I hit the second aid station everyone on the trail was much more spread out and I was on my own. I did question if I was going the right way but I saw the orange ribbon hanging from the trees so I knew I was on the right path. Eventually a guy caught me and followed me for about 2 miles until he passed me at the last aid station. In the last 2 miles or so the 25k merges with the 10k runners so I was no longer running alone on the path. It was nice having others out there but it did require going around some groups on the single path track. Most were very quick to move to the side to let me run around them. I hoped to catch the guy that had passed me but the last mile was the toughest of the race. When we made it out of the woods I was surprised to see the finish line right there.
Official finish time- 2:07:19 (6th OA/ 1st Female)
It was a really hot day to run a 25k and I cannot imagine what it must have been like for those who did the 50k! I’m so glad much of the race was in the shade (it definitely helped) and the aid station volunteers were great! I found out a few minutes after I finished that I missed the 25k course record by about a minute so I may have to give this one another go now that I know the course a little better!
I would definitely recommend this race. The trail was beautiful and very well maintained. If you are at all into trail running or wanting to try one this one is ideal because it offers 3 distances. I wouldn’t describe it as super technical (like Mt. Magazine) but it is true trail race and there is quite a bit of climb. You need to watch your footing and stay on top of fueling. I carried water and refilled at the aid stations. I also had a gel around miles 6 & 11.
I registered about 3 weeks prior to the race but missed the t-shirt cut-off so I couldn’t get a shirt at packet pickup but they told me I could see what sizes were left after the race. Fortunately they had my size after the race because the shirts were awesome! The overall awards were very unique too!
We had plenty of time to head back to our hotel to shower and checkout. We had some breakfast and ended up spending most of our anniversary in Conway where we shopped and had lunch.
It was a great day and I’m thankful I was able to celebrate another year with John. It really seems crazy to me that we are old enough to have been married 17 years already. It just doesn’t seem like it was that long ago but then I remember we have a teenager and it is very real! Looking forward to celebrating many more anniversaries with my J.