I ran the Rothrock Challenge 30K on Saturday. I had heard a wide variety of reports about this event from how completely un-runnable the course was to how tough the elevation gains and losses were. I would have to agree that the course was tough, but not nearly as bad as I had expected. As far as runnable - I was VERY pleasantly surprised to find so much terrain suited to trail running. Hats off to Eric Marshall for designing a truly amazing course. If you've done the MegaTransect, imagine it without the road at the beginning and end. That would be the Rothrock.
I tried something completely new at this event and started from the very back of the pack. Although I am not very competitive, it was still an effort to wait until everyone had crossed the start line before I began to move forward. I even waited until someone who had come out of the bathroom after the start got ahead of me. There may have still been someone else in there, but I didn't go and check :)
The Rothrock begins with about 3/4 of a mile on a gravel lane, paved road, dirt road segment before it turns onto a sweet uphill single track that keeps everyone in line. If you are really concerned about time, you need to get to this trail before many of the participants. If, like me, you are just there for a challenge and fun, it isn't too much of a problem to just wait out the Longbarger trail until it opens up near the top of Tussey Mountain. A couple of industrious souls did try to pass and make up time, but were easily swallowed up before the top. The extra effort simply isn't worth it to the mortals who aren't going to finish under 3 hours.
The 2+" of rain on the night before the race really added to the adventure with ankle-sucking mud and knee-deep water holes to traverse. The rocks in most of the trail were stable, but the water/muck mixture really provided some excitement in a few spots.
I had checked out the results from the past couple of years and thought that I could place in the top 100 if I averaged under 15 minute miles. Frankly, I wasn't sure what to expect and didn't have a lot of confidence that this would happen. It just seemed like a good "A" goal to set. I feel I ran smart race and finished strong passing several runners in the last mile. I passed a pack of 5 or so with 3/4 of a mile to go and ran both to try and catch the Death Race Diva (that's what her water bottle said) and avoid losing it and getting caught from behind. I didn't quite catch the diva, but no one caught me either.
I made my goal of averaging under 15 minutes per mile, finishing in 4:36, but that put me in 125th place out of the 343 finishers. I am not disappointed in the place because I can not change how others run. I am pleased with everything about the way I performed and I'm looking forward to next year's event. I will definitely be signing up again.
The after race gathering was awesome with plenty of food and drinks. Pork and chicken barbeque, subs, pizza, and a few choice selections from Otto's Brewery. The soak in the pond and then a double team massage took care of soreness. My family came out for a picnic to make the day complete. What a treat!
My only real regret is that I didn't get to meet Bryon Powell fro iRunFar.com. I saw the iRunFar bumper stickers at the La Sportiva booth, but I didn't open my mouth to ask about whether Bryon was there or not. Of course, on the race website today there is a blog entry/ race recap from Bryon. I've read Relentless Forward Progress and I've appreciated the insight. I don't have to make all the mistakes myself!