Race Recap: 2019 Race Across Durham – 10 Miler

First off, Race Across Durham is one of my favorite races of the year, and it’s right here in Durham, minutes from where I work everyday.

Waiting for the race to start!

This was my third year running RAD, and was a much better race for me than 2018 — mainly because I felt ill on race day and struggled to enjoy the experience as I knew I would have otherwise.

2019 made it all better. Zach and I hadn’t done much trail running to get ready for this race, and were thankful to the course preview runs set-up by Bull City Running and Life Skills Foundation. I believe the second preview run may have been the first time on the Eno in 2019 for us.

Still, we’d decided our number one priority was to enjoy this race, so once the race had started we settled into a conversational pace and did just that.

You never remember the hills until you hit the bottom of it and then exclaim, “yeah I remember this hill now”. That happened multiple times along the course.

The route meanders through the trees, alongside the Eno River, gradually increasing in elevation as we head toward the Eno Rock Quarry.

Aid Stations were well stocked!

Around mile 4 we hit the first aid station and stopped for a snack, a drink and a photo. I’m not sure we’ve ever ran a race this relaxed before, and it felt good.

Even though it had rained the day before, the trail was in good shape, not really any muddy areas that I noticed.

At mile 5 a surprise awaited us. There was an unofficial aid station set up with a box of beer sitting on a table. Everyone was just running past. Crazy, I know. Not us — nope. We stopped for some “trail magic”. Thank you very much to whoever left those out.

Surprise find in the woods!

So we were half way there. The next aid station was not until mile 8.

In 2018 we were missing a bridge or two due to some flooding. This year the bridges were restored, although I kind of enjoyed running through the stream last year.

The last hill up toward the quarry is probably the toughest hill on the course, but it leads up to one of my favorite sections of the course — running over the stepping stones and then along a ridge between the quarry lake and the river.

We stopped and posed for the photographer before crossing the river, and were promised we’d “make the cover” — not even kidding. Maybe even modeling careers might be launched from this. Who knows?

However, it looks like the photo didn’t make the cut to the website, never mind the cover of anything! 🀣

The out-and-back section from 2017 was added back into the route this year, and while the section is not very technical we were beat by that stage and were glad to reach the turning point and run that last leg back to the finish.

We ran through the finish line together, my belly giving me a 1 millisecond advantage over Zach’s time. Lots of snacks and drinks available there while we waited for the shuttle bus back to the after-party. The oranges were amazing!

We didn’t have to wait long to get on a bus. I felt really bad for the driver though as she had to smell multiple bus loads of smelly trail runners all morning.

RAD 2020, we’re coming for you!

Poem: The Trails, They Are Calling Me

the trails they are calling me
where the trees form a canopy
dancing sunlight and shadows
Narrow pathways and meadows

the trails they are calling me
along the river, mountains to sea
rocks and roots, senses fully aware
damp soil afoot and soothing cool air

the trails they are calling me
to connect with wildlife running free
a fox here, an opossum there
eyes locked in a stag’s stare

the trails they are calling me
to enjoy being lost momentarily
to breathe in deep the serenity
the trails they are calling me

Alastair Vance, 23 May 2019

Added: Race Across Durham 10 Miler

I am so pumped to be running the Race Across Durham 10 Miler again in December this year. I ran in the inaugural event last December and absolutely loved it. Like last year, registration opened on my birthday, so it’s instant (hopefully annual) happy birthday present to me. πŸ™‚

This time, not only is my buddy Dillon (above) running it again, but so is his wife, AND SO ARE ARE AΒ FEW of my Morrisville Run Club friends. It is going to be freeeeeaking awesome!

Yes, I’m a little excited. Looking forward to training for this one already. It’s such a beautiful place to run.

 

 

Music To Run With: Cloud Nine by Kygo

kygo

I discovered Kygo a few months back and really enjoy his music and artist collaborations. Cloud Nine is his debut album and I’ve always thought the first track, Intro, would make a great backing track for a kick-ass trail running video.

Hear me out (listen above).

  • 0s: Far out view (drone footage) of a solo runner on a trail.
  • 45s: Close up footage, feet, dirt, grit, sweat, stream crossings.
  • 1m:24s: Other runners join as they run the last section of the trail to the summit.
  • 1m:45s: They reach the summit, exhausted, arms spread wide taking in the 360 degree views.

I think that would be magic.

Aside from that, the whole album suits very well as a running accompaniment – except for the John Legend Happy Birthday track. Great song, but seems a little out of place on this album.

Review: Race Across Durham Trail Marathon & 10 Miler

It was so exciting to be part of the first ever Race Across Durham Trail Marathon & 10 Miler event. I registered for the 10 mile race, since this was my first ever trail race (and also because I could not run 26.2 miles on a flat surface).

The 10 mile race started at the West Point On The Eno Amphitheater, an open area in the middle of the woods. From there, around 200 runners gathered, ready to run through the trees toward the river to join the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

The race was timed (time-chip on back of the bib), but there was no starting mat, so time was taken from the starting gun. I wasn’t too motivated by time on this race. I wanted to run it well, and enjoy it at the same time, so not having a starting mat didn’t bother me.

I was expecting a little bit of a bottleneck at the start of the race, because we had to transition from an open field to a single track trail. There was no pushing or shoving. Everyone was very chilled and polite and seemed to be out there to enjoy the day.

It took about 1.5 miles or so to thin out on the trail. I managed to pass quite a few people at the beginning and catch some groups that were running at a pace I was comfortable with.

I was really glad I spent a few weekends before checking out the trail section by section — it was really helpful mentally, as I knew which sections of the trail were most challenging and when I needed to preserve energy during the race.

The trail was well marked, and I didn’t hear of anyone getting lost. I did hear about a number of falls though — I’m amazed I managed to stay on my feet.

It was a tough course. Probably one of my toughest races to date. Just look at how tired I am above. This was taken just after having crossed the finish line.

There were two aid stations. One at 4 miles, and one at 8 miles. I decided not to carry any fluids and rely only on the aid stations. That worked out fine for me.

I didn’t stop during the race to take any photos I’m afraid, so I’m looking forward to seeing some of the official race photos. There were 3-4 photographers stationed along the route. I tried my best to look like a real trail runner when I spotted them.

Here I am with my friend, Dillon, looking a bit more refreshed after some fluids and snacks at the finish. There were shuttle buses arranged to take runners on the 10-15 min trip back to the West Point On The Eno for the race after party. Beer.

Isn’t that a lovely medal? Well, yes it is. Very nice. It has the Durham skyline, with water tower, complete with the Eno State Park and River at the bottom.

I was glad family could come and join me for the after party. It was a very chilled affair — which was fine. There was food and beer, and a band playing in the background. People sat around on the grass field, or at the picnic tables. Xander (below) was happy to have freedom to run around and enjoy himself.

Based on my training runs, I would have been happy with any time under 2 hrs, so to come in at 1hr 45min was a nice surprise. My Garmin logged the course at 9.4 miles, andΒ  11:10/mi pace. The official distance was 10 miles, which brings my pace up to 10:31/mi. I can only assume my GPS signal got a little lost at times which accounts for the missing 0.6 miles.

 

If you’re interested in more of the course details and elevation, you can check out my Strava activity here.

One final note — if you do intend to sign up for it next year, sign up quick. The race sold out in a number of weeks when registration opened at the start of July.

 

Training for Race Across Durham

Eno River State Park is an amazing place. I’ve being doing quite a bit of running there to prep for Race Across Durham. The scenery is beautiful, and it feels so remote. The trail is both challenging and rewarding and full of wildlife. The race is only a couple of weeks away now, but I think I will definitely keep running here throughout the year ahead.