Sunday November 1, 2015. Scott Co Park, Long Grove, IA (Park View) 1pm. Sunny 65 degrees.(probably the best weather ever for this race)
I enjoy this race and always try to run it, if it fits in my schedule. This year is my 5th time participating. I have recapped it the last 2 years, nothing much changes, but it’s always a great time. This year I was running with Laura.
Registration: This is available in a few different ways. You can pre-register online, send in a form, or register on race day. The fee is never steep, and they have an option to not purchase a shirt. On race day I paid $17 without the shirt. If you wanted a long sleeve unisex cotton shirt it was an additional $15. Included was a bib, post race drinks, and admittance to run through the park trails. (not sure if there is a fee for this)
Pre Race: There is no expo or packet pick up event. You can register on race day and get your packet an hour or so before the race. Also available for only $4 were past years race shirts. There is plenty of free parking near the shelter where the race starts. Once that lot fills, there are other lots with shuttles provided. The park bathrooms are closed for the season, but there were 6 port-o-potties brought in.
There was music playing on a speaker, and with about 10 minutes before the race start, participants were encouraged to gather at the start. No need for pace lineups, unless you were a super speedy trail runner, you could get to the front easily.
One change from last year, there were no shortcuts on the race this year. The National Anthem was sung live, and a gun started the race.
Race/Course: The course is advertised as a European Cross Country Trail race. Well if you have no clue what this is, you should do your research, or you will be pleasantly surprised. While the course is in the park, it is truly through the park, on all trail surfaces.
There were also 2 races, a 2 mile and a 4+ mile race. The removal of shortcuts had me worried. A short cut is usually a shorter route on the course, but more difficult like crossing a creek. Since there were none, all racers had one course. It had also been rainy the week leading up to the race
- all trail – some marked trail, some single track, some flagged routes through the woods, prairie trail
- creek crossings – you find your way across, through the creek, climb a log, go off course
- MUD – slippery, squishy and dirty
- leaf covered – keep eyes out for twigs, roots, rocks, mud
- some spectators on marked trail
- some photographers
- different colored flags (blue or red) marked each course
- 2 water stops, in paper cups. no food on course
- some hay jump obstacles, and a culvert; otherwise all “obstacles” w ere made by nature
- Mile markers by orange flags
- Prizes on course – there were ribbon/flags hanging on tree limbs with numbers, you could grab these to redeem at the finish for a prize. They were different colors, which represented different prizes. There were also items in the woods that didn’t belong, if you returned them at the finish you also got a prize.
I think the course is why I love this so much, it just makes you feel badass for climbing through the woods, splashing through creeks and slipping through the mud. Maybe I am just a trail runner at heart.
Laura and I ran the 4+ mile route. In all the years I have done this, it has always been near 6 miles. This year it was 6.2 ish miles long.
With this being said, I was ready to slap a woman just about a a quarter mile in, at the first water crossing. She was like, “we all have to go through that?” I rolled my eyes, and jumped into the water, leaving her behind, who knows if she finished the race.
Also there was another part I was frustrated with. This is not an easy course, and running trail is slower than running pavement. (DUH!) However we were behind a guy running with a kid (his kid?) He kept nagging on the kid to keep up, and saying he was holding him back, he could run 5 miles faster than this. There was also a point where Laura and I helped others out of a creek at a steep bank, this guy stood by and watched, even as we helped the kid up. UGH!
Finish/Post Race: The end of the race was at the shelter, where it started, and there was a finishing chute with a clock. It had you go into the shelter as part of the finish. This is where there was water, ice cups, soda in cans, draft beer, and cold cider. There was hot food available for purchase, but no post race food for free.
Awards were held, but before everyone finished. There were overall male and female winners. An award for being injured, a hedge ball award, and an award for muddiest. Then the big prizes found on the trail were turned in: a sled, a bed pan and a skeleton with a Cubs shirt.
Laura and I hung around for the awards and redeemed our ribbons we found on the course. I was able to snag a pair of Nike winter running gloves and Laura got a short sleeve tech shirt. I enjoyed a beer, it was cold, but we were both starving. This race being at 1pm, and about an hour drive made eating lunch a problem. So we left the park and hit up a local bar and grill for a post race meal. We also left the race without major injury, Laura got stuck with a thorn, and left her with a splinter.
Overall: You can’t beat a race with a fun challenge for a great price. Ok so the course is tough, but I always have a great time.