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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Race Recap: Clear Creek Trail Run

Race photos by Greg Davis

The Clear Creek Trail Run took place Saturday, June 4 at Clear Creek Metro Park in Rockbridge, Ohio. There were two race distances: 25k and 10k. Alex and I ran the 10k. [Race information]

When Rocks and Roots Trail Runners Association posted a photo of the CCTR swag mug on Facebook I fell in love. I'm a sucker for great design, nature, and (short) trail races. Alex was sold immediately. After he won Iron Furnace he was pretty pumped and declared his intention to win the Clear Creek 10k. Because of his declaration - plus the fact that I ran a half the week before and this was technically my rest week - I considered this "Alex's race."

Alex's goal was to win and my goal was to have fun and enjoy the scenery.

Pre Race
Packet pickup started at 7am and we had an hour drive, so we woke up around 5:15 to get dressed and eat. We considered camping the night before, but there weren't any campgrounds nearby. (Clear Creek is part of the Columbus Metro Park system and only the newest parks allow camping.) When we arrived just after 7 the rangers were parking cars close together and we got a decent spot. We had about an hour and a half to kill before our run, but the time went by pretty quickly. The bathrooms were nice and the race registration was set up under a covered pavilion. It was super humid (95%) and warm (68-70), but overcast. Luckily, it sprinkled a bit as we waited to start. There was a short, chilly downpour after the 25k runners set off at 8, but by the time we were running the rain had stopped.

We set off right at 8:30. I lined up somewhere in the middle and stuck with two other girls who were running a decent pace, but would stop and walk the hills. I noticed most people were walking the hills near me so I figured why not? I wasn't there to win!

Walking a hill before mile 1. Race photos by Greg Davis
Somewhere around mile 1 I got a little bored, so I passed the ladies and kept my eye on a guy in red up ahead. I don't like feeling lost during trail runs, so I always try to keep someone in my sights. Meanwhile, there was a guy in blue who would walk uphill and sprint downhills. We bunny hopped one another at least 6 times throughout the race. Man, he had some serious speed on downhills! (I ended up beating him in the end.)

Looking dorky. Photo by Greg Davis 
I kept my eye on red shirt and knew the turnaround/aid station was at mile 3. Red shirt and the folks ahead of him walked uphills, so I walked uphills. There were some pretty steep climbs that I tried to power hike. At mile 2.38 Alex was coming back towards us. He was winning! We said hi and stuff and I was happy to see him during a part where I was actually running. I'd passed about 5 or 6 people at this point and red shirt guy was still up ahead. There was an intense hill from 2.8 to the aid station that I couldn't even power hike. (Strava says it was between 11-22% grade.) On this hill we saw most of the leaders and I knew I was somewhere in the top 10 for ladies. Alex was ahead by at least five minutes!

The middle 3 miles were out and back.

I stopped at the turnaround for a minute or two to catch my breath, eat my gel, and drink water. Red shirt also stopped. The aid station provided water, Tailwind, and homemade energy balls (they shared the ingredients list beforehand which was a nice gesture). I chatted with the race director for a bit and decided I'd better head back out. For some reason I stopped my watch at the aid station and forgot to start it back up until I was one or two tenths down the trail. Whoops.

Anyway! I kept following red shirt and the fast downhill blue guy. When they walked, I walked. When they ran, I ran. I felt like I probably could have run more, but there were some intense uphills that I couldn't even power hike. Mile 4 had a crazy hill that just would not quit. In my tired state I tried to remember that famous quote about all forward motion being progress ... or something. (Do you know what I'm talking about?)

We hit a gravel road around 4.5 and I talked to red shirt for a bit about the weather and the hills and then I passed him. I wasn't wild about being out in front with no one to guide me, but I figured the trail would be well marked. Mile 5 brought us to a new trail around the lake. It was a very steep downhill and I tripped on a root, but didn't fall. Phew! Blue shirt the power downhiller passed me, but I got him later on an uphill.

I hiked a lot of uphills, but again, everyone near me did. Over the next mile I picked off two guys and kept another woman in my sights. I was pretty exhausted from the hills, but I was having a really great time. I think if my legs weren't a little tired from last week's half marathon and if I were feeling a bit more competitive I probably could have passed about three more people in the final mile. Regardless, I was soooo ready to be done and happy to see the finish. I picked up my pace and ran in to a very supportive cheering crowd.

Coming into the finish. Photo by Greg Davis
Stats and Thoughts
I would run this race again in a heartbeat. It was tough with the 1,100+ ft elevation gain, but it was beautiful and fun, with a great collection of runners of all skill levels. I'd like to try the trail again with some hill training and on fresh legs. I'm happy I ran this for fun, but it was cool to see how well I ended up doing in the overall placement.

The swag was pretty awesome, too: a tote bag, sturdy coffee mug, whole bean coffee, and some coupons for free distillery tours and yoga classes. We also bought a sweet race shirt and Alex's first place finished earned him an awesome wooden plaque. We need a place to display his multiple awards! (And my single award ha)

Final Time: 1:30:07
Final Distance: 6.5 miles
Overall: 18 / 48 (37%)
Gender: 7 / 29 (24%)
Age Group: 1 / 5 (I'll take it!)

Up next: I need to sign up for some (short) summer races. I really wanted to run the Scioto 10 Miler, but it was cancelled due to logistics. :'( 


  1. LOVE your finish line photo ! What a gray shot.
    I haven't done a trail race but would be really scared to get lost !

    1. For some reason my comment got deleted -- anywho, it was something about always being scared of getting lost. ;) I'm trying to get over it so I can try some longer trail runs!

  2. Wow, that's some awesome swag, Elizabeth! Big congrats, my friend! I think this statement is my exact strategy for any and every trail run/race: "When they walked, I walked. When they ran, I ran." I LOVE IT!!

    1. Thanks! The swag was really amazing! Oh man -- when I see folks who look like they know what they're doing in a trail run I latch on and hope for the best!! ;)

  3. Congrats to both you and Alex - this looks like a wicked tough course and you both did great! I've never done a trail race but the gorgeous scenery in your pics is almost enough to make me want to sign up for one :) Also, can't beat a race that includes a coffee mug and coffee in the swag bag!

    1. Thanks! The elevation was crazy, but it was fun. If they do it again next year we are for sure signing up! I'd love to do more trail races. I tend to place higher overall in trail runs even though I'm going so slow... so that's a fun confidence booster. ;)


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