Remember that old school story about the Tortoise and the Hare? Yeah, well don’t let that fable fool ya. The Hare really does win after all!
This weekend was an absolute blast and an honor to participate in the inaugural Tortoise and the Hare 13.1. Whilst one would think a gathering of such a multitude of tortoises and hares would result in a scene similar to Clash of the Titans, it was quite amicable. ;P
In all seriousness, this comradery at this race was amongst the best I’ve seen! The RDs, Jeremy and Toni McAlister, really did their homework and put together a top-notch race that was enjoyed by tortoises and hares alike!
The Concept is quite simple. The tortoises start earlier, the hares later. Hares, your mission, should you choose to accept is to catch as many tortoises as you can. Tortoises, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to trip the hares as often as possible. Just kidding. Don’t do that. It would be quite unfitting for a regal tortoise.
The tortoises start in waves, as early as 8:00 up to 9:00. Hares toe the line at 9:30-10:00. Not only does this provide a bit of fun throughout the race, but it also serves to free up potential bottlenecks along the course. With the exception of maybe one spot, there were plenty of opportunities to pass.
Mix and Mingle
I made it a point to get there a bit early, so I can look around and snap a few pics, but we know how that goes. After spending the past three nights with a sick babe and sleeping in his room the night before the race, I practically sleep-walked my way to the car, and I honestly can’t remember how I got there. Not really sure how I arrived at Boling Park either. I fancy I have one of those new-fangled, auto-pilot cars….or I was just plain lucky.
Got there literally in time to pin on the bib and slide my bag back under the registration table, when I heard Toni asking for all runners to toe the line. Toni mentioned they made a few course changes, due to the weather. No biggie. What’s a few extra hills?
The Chase is On!
The course meandered through the field and onto the gravel track, winding its way towards the opening of the trail. From there a series of gentle inclines and declines, along with a few wooden bridges, lined the first mile or so. One note on the bridges…watch your step, as these can become quite slippery. My HOKA Mafate 3s didn’t have an issue with traction, so pick your trail shoe accordingly.
Approximately the first 2 miles or so lent themselves to single-track; however, there was still a bit of room to get by on the side, and runners were quite obliging. For the most part, the trail consisted largely of wide, open trails (enough for 3-4 runners to run side-by-side) with the occasional burst of single-track.
As far as Technicality goes, I would say this race is beginner-friendly imo. There are a few rocky spots, particularly as you get to the stream crossings, but honestly, it’s nothing that a decent pair of trail shoes can’t handle.
It took a good 30 minutes for my legs to loosen up, so I knew something was amiss. It was around the middle of the race that things took a turn for the worse with nausea hitting me, along with an inability to cool myself. So needless to say, I didn’t play hopscotch at those creek crossings. I pounced right through them and seriously considered just laying down in them on the way back.
The hills themselves were gently rolling, although Jeremy and Toni have a twisted sense of humor and decided to place the largest of the hills pretty much dead center of the course at approximately the 8 mile marker or so. Yet, it was the heat, coupled with the humidity, that took many off guard, including me…shocked the HE@#$ out of me, being as I’ve purposely run during the mid-afternoons to get some heat-training after taking 3 weeks off at the start of the school year!
I wasn’t quite sure what was going on at first. I was using all the same fuel and supplements I normally used, the same supplements that did me well for the Rockin’ Choccolocco. I ate properly beforehand and hydrated in the days prior, my normal race protocol. It wasn’t until the goosebumps set in shortly around mile 10-11 that I realized what was going on, but by then, it’s already too late for the body to recover. G-R-E-A-T…WTH???
I had two choices at this point, DNF or push through.
The aid stations were spread out perfectly with one near mile 3.5-4, another near 7, both of which you hit on the way back as well. Basically, there was an aid station nearly every 3 miles or so. One could easily get by with a hand-held and nothing more. Coming from an ultra background, I have no frickin’ clue what a hand-held is. I only understand vests filled with “extra” HEED for those just-in-case moments, i.e. a sudden inclination to run more miles, hotter-than-normal conditions, etc. Plus, I have enough pockets for my phone, so I can take planned “selfie” breaks and pop a cool few poses that totally belie how I’m feeling in that exact moment, which just happen to turn into what-else-is-in-my-pack-that-I-can-eat moments. OOOOOOOOO, A STROOPWAFEL!
The aid stations were complete with random cookies, jelly beans, pretzels, and a few other things I really didn’t look at the grub because the sight of it made my stomach churn. I did enjoy splashing several cups of ice-cold water on me at the last aid station, definitely not a Baywatch moment.
An out-and-back course, you know it’s time to gun it when you leave the comfortable shade of the trails for the wide, open gravel track. You think you’re there, but you’re not, so hold off on that spring. You’re at the back end of the track. Once around the bend, the starting field comes into view. Gunning for he finish line, I couldn’t help but notice the massage table towards the right. Ohhhhh yeah, come to mami!
You get a lot of bang for your buck at this race! Medals, giveaways, and a free massage! Jeremy and Toni also hooked us up with bacon and chicken biscuits from McDonalds, pizza, and other traditional offerings, such as Lara bars and traditional finisher fare.
I hung out at the finish for quite a while, so I could take some pics of my buddies on the podium. I never did get that massage, but that’s ok. Despite the heat exhaustion and sleep deprivation, this race is definitely on my list for 2015! There will always been “bonk” runs. What’s important is that you grit your teeth and push past the discomfort. That’s how you become stronger: physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Jeremy and Toni did an excellent job designing, marking, and setting up the course! If you haven’t checked out their race series, hit them up at Tortoise and the Hare Racing! Next up is the Tortoise and the Hare 50k. Who’s coming out to play ‘cuz now you’re in the tortare’s territory.