An area LRS (Running Fit) put on an amazing event this weekend, called Run Woodstock. 3 days of peace, love, and running. They took the hippie theme to the hilt and had trail running events of every distance, from 5k to 100 miles. It was held really close to my home so participating was a must. I convinced my husband (not a runner) to sign up; he agreed to the Flower Power 5-miler on Saturday. The event had a commune (campground), so we set out on Friday to make a weekend out of it.
After packet pick-up, it was nearly time for the 100 mile and 100k events to begin. These folks would run from 4pm on Friday until whenever they finished or dropped, whichever came first (30-hour cut-off for 100 mile). I was thrilled to be there to watch them begin. I got to meet a local ultra runner, a woman and mom named Farra; she is so inspiring to me. There were runners from all over who came for this event. The 100-mile folks had to run 6 loops of a 16.6 mile trail, which is known for its challenging hills, sand, rocks, roots, and ruts. A local guitarist played a Jimi-Hendrix-style national anthem and they were off, off to run for up to 30 hours!
We set up our camp and got into running clothes; a free, fun, untimed 5k was starting at 7:30pm. My husband (Rob) is a bit out of shape, but he started working out a couple months ago and he run/walks 4 miles or so on a treadmill 2-3 times per week. I knew I was pushing it with him and the 5 miles on the trail, but I really want to include him in these running events as more than a spectator. He agreed to the 5-miler, and I signed him up for the 5k more as a ‘surprise’ – it was free, and there was a pizza party after!
It was just starting to get dark when we listened to the national anthem again and set off for the trail. Our final instructions: if you want to run au naturale, turn left at the fork in the path about 1 mile in.
So off we go, running in the woods at night. Such a treat! The trail was beautiful, albeit difficult, and we were feeling good. We got to the fork in the road and hemmed and hawed. In the planning, I thought I would do it, but when push came to shove I was kinda chicken. Rob said, “Let’s do it! You only live once!” (He had been the one saying no-way all along!) So we turned left.
Now, this should be the juicy part of the story, but not so much. A sign or something must have been turned around or knocked over, because we never came to the clearing where the helpers were supposed to be waiting to serve us champagne and watch our clothes. We kept going and going; it was clear we were lost, and the wrong turn added almost a mile to our 5k (oops). I made up for it by mooning Rob as he ran behind me =)
I really loved running at night. It became super dark, with a big moon to light our way. We had headlights and flashlights to navigate the trail, which had some hills and a mud pit. One hill was super-steep and all sand, it was like climbing a sand dune. Still, this was great fun and a high point of the weekend.
Back at the commune, hot pizza, live music, and a warm campfire awaited us. It was a party of runners. We stayed with the others for a while, then headed to our own site; we lit a fire, met another runner who chatted with us, until I was too cold to stay outside any longer. The wind had picked up terribly and it was so very cold. We were close to the base camp that the ultra runners had to run through as a check-point and aid station. I loved hearing the cheers for them as they came through, and it was hard to feel sorry for yourself in your camp chair with your beer and your feet up by the fire when others are running thru the night. Still, it was hard to sleep with the cheering, the rough wind slapping the tent, and the baby crying all night in the tent next to us (poor kid – I felt terrible in the morning when I met his mom, who was running the full marathon that morning after being up all night with the baby!).
In the morning, I brewed some coffee and helped Rob with his timing chip. A 50-mile and 50k event started at 6am, a full and half marathon started at 7:30am, and our 5-miler started at 8am. We pinned on our bibs, shared a bagel and a banana, and went off to the starting line. It was cool camping so close to the start, as I could leave my warm clothes on and ditch them at just the last second.
This trail run was a real challenge. You had to pay constant attention to your footing. Rocks, roots, sand, mud, fallen limbs, hills… we had it all. I loved it. A couple really steep hills caused Rob some trouble – he’s a night owl, not a morning person, and not a morning runner; he suffered during this event. He does his thing on the treadmill after work; this hilly morning business was not for him. He was a trooper about it, but I know he was not loving the run as much as I had hoped. Some folks in the trail running forum mentioned that this was a difficult course, especially for someone coming off a treadmill. “Take separate cars” was among the advice I was given. I’m glad we had done the night run the night before, because I think he enjoyed that a lot. Our loop was part of the full marathon loop, so there were other runners on the trail, all awesome and so encouraging. It was a great experience.
Rob agreed to run hard the last bit as we came into the finish line. I think the course was long (my Garmin read 5.7 miles) but I didn’t tell Rob that. It took us 1:25 to finish, not last place but not too far from it. The plan all along was to take it easy, get through it with easy running and just enjoy the experience. I told Rob how proud I was of him and put his medal on.
The swag at this event rocked. 100-mile finishers received an awesome belt buckle. Al runners of 5 miles or more got a very cool medal. And, I loved the race shirts:
And the medals:
AG awards were 5-deep – they got these cool toy replica VW micro-buses decked out hippie-style, and OA winners for each event got LAVA LAMPS. Before we left, the 100-mile winner came in at around 17-ish hours:
We packed up our camp and headed home. We stopped for lunch and talked about the experience. Rob was sore and had some chafing; I tolerated lots of complaining about ailments that I’ve had for months now. It felt good to introduce him to ‘the (chafing) club.’ He was still sore this morning, but not holding it against me, and I think I can get him to run it next year.
I think I will shoot for the full next year, the 50k if I can swing it. I see lots more trail running in my future.