On May 7th I participated in the Athletic Equations 24 hour Adventure Trail Run at Prince William Forest Park in Manassas, VA. PWFP brings back great childhood memories of family camping, exploring in the woods, and riding bikes through the park. I particularly remember being spooked by “the adults” while camping when they dressed up like ghosts while we took a tour of the cemetery at night.
The race headquarters was Camp Happyland and I took the drive down the evening before, stayed in a cabin (part of the race fee!) and was able to sleep in a bit race morning. There was a great pre race lasagna meal and great raffle prizes. No one walked away empty handed. I, by chance, shared a cabin with Keith Straw. Keith is a rather hard core ultra and marathon runner. He won the AEI 24 ATR race several times. I took the opportunity to pick his brain about races (Western States, Boston, Badwater, Leadville, etc.) and the ultra elite (Scott Jurek, Pam Reed, Iris Cooper, Jamie Donaldson, Ian Sharman, etc.). Wow, his stories were cool and he is really dedicated to the sport. His quote was “I show up to win these races!”. As night came, I drifted off after calling Allison. I knew it would be a long day ahead of me. Keith reminded me “tomorrow you will have great moments, moments where you will hate everything and moments that you will be on top of the world.”
Race day started with coffee! And breakfast then off to the start line. This was a 6.25 mile lollipop loop course that is repeated over and over and over.
The course itself was 25% technical, 50% runnable, and 25% miscellaneous terrain. I enjoyed the run and stayed hydrated and fueled up for the entire event. Having bathrooms on every loop was great. My plan was to run longer than my longest run and then go home for Mother’s day. I did jut that, so after 15 hours I took a shower, packed the car and headed home with 56.25 miles under my belt. The weather was perfect and the course was very scenic with a portion running along a stream. There were two swallow tailed butterflies that were magically dancing in the early spring afternoon that I remember most about the trail. They fluttered against my shoulder as I passed and I thought – “ this is the reason I love being on the trails”. I shared stories with folks while running and enjoyed running the final loop with two other guys talking about football and baseball.
AEI, Alex and Scott, did a stellar job with runner support. Every need was met, there was food galore (pizza, perogies, potatoes, candy, etc), clean bathrooms, and great company. Job well done.
So from here I go onto the Catoctin 50K on July 30th. I will do some shorter runs with the BRRC in between and some longer training runs but overall I will enjoy the spring and summer on the trails.