A few days before this event my great bud Scott Griffith (AKA the Flying Duck) generously invited me to join him for the 25K (he covered my registration). This was his third year doing this event and he really wanted me to share the Dogwood Canyon experience with him. I love running events, and running events wherein someone else covers my registration: huge bonus!
Scott and I grabbed a ride to the event with a few local runners: Dick, Deb, and Dwight. I really enjoyed the runner fellowship and the conversation about the local running scene.
When we got into the Dogwood Canyon Nature Park I was on a mission to find David Murphy so I could grab a picture with him. David Murphy and I have had a friendship via social media sites over the last few months but had yet to meet in person. He was running the event in pink (including a pink tutu) to raise funds for the battle against cancer. I found him pretty easily and we got the shot I was hoping for.
Just for kicks I checked with the registration staff to see if it was possible to upgrade to the 50k. Turns out it was an option and would only cost us $10 (I just happened to have $10 in my pocket). I jokingly bounced the idea off of Scott. I knew that logistically it wasn’t going to happen because we would not have a ride home if we were out there that long.
Following the National Anthem the race got started. The 15K, 25K, and 50K runners all started together. I had requested of Scott that we at least get about 1.2 miles prior to injecting a walk segment (this was for my United States Running Streak Association streak). It turned out that we got a mile and a half before we hit our first climb. This first mile and half included a few creek crossings and fun was being had by all.
We power walked the first climb and I was really committed to power walking all of the major climbs on this trail. Scott and I seemed to be very much in agreement on this plan. A couple mantras were bouncing around in my head: (1) run smart, and (2) run your own run. I shared these with Scott and he seemed to be right there with me. My hope was that we could pace consistently for the entire 25k without our legs turning to jelly.
Early into our journey I was experiencing a variety of flashbacks to other trail events I had participated in. This was actually only my 3rd trail running event. The 1st was the 2009 Psycho Wyco Run Toto Run Trail Run (an event Scott and I did together) [event report: here]. The 2nd was my first 100 mile attempt at the 2010 Kettle Moraine 100 [event report: here]. Something I really appreciate about trail running events is that most people use the terrain to prompt their walk segments, i.e, walking the uphills and running the downhills and flats. I experience trail events to be more conducive to a sense of camaraderie with the other participants than road events (this is likely because I prefer to do road events in a solo manner).
The Dogwood Canyon Trail Run is a legitimate trail run event. The course has some serious climbs and the trail requires your attention. I totally loved the journey out there. Scott and I stuck with our smart running and many of the runners around us for the first 6 miles disappeared as we continued to run strong on the downhills and flats. My favorite sections were the long gradual downhill sections. We encountered a couple of these sections and it was a total blast flying through the woods.
We had positive experiences at the aid stations. I ran without water or fuel, and the aid provided was sufficient. I partook of water, Coke, Mellow Yellow, M&Ms, and Gummy Bears. For the 50k I would recommend a handheld water bottle and some carry along calories.
Around 13 miles I went ahead and took a look at our time. With how smart we were running I was thinking we might be in good position for besting Scott’s previous times at this event (not that he didn't run smart in the past). I was surprised that we were behind schedule. I learned later that this course was modified and many report that the 25k was possibly a mile longer this year.
Following a section on pavement we were directed back on to the trail. We were informed that we were facing a very significant climb and that the finish was 2.5 miles ahead. Our GPS devices had us already covering 14 miles, so 2.5 sounded long to us. The climb was nearly a mile long. At the top was an aid station (David Murphy was fueling there). After hitting some fuel we headed for the finish line. During this last section we picked off 5 or 6 runners.
At the finish we partook of a very enjoyable meal and picked up our finisher’s fleeces (very nice).
This event was a total blast! I loved the trail. I loved the fellowship. I am very open to participating in this event in the future (would love to give the 50K a go).
I highly recommend this one.