This was another great local race to put on the list. The start and end of the race was on a farm, lots of open fields and just a beautiful atmosphere. I finished with a time of 1:47:33, lots of rolling hills and some gravel roads/trails which was not expected. The start of the race was on a gravel trail which was about a 1/4 mile that looped around a cow field, wasn’t bad it was good wake up call for the feet, I took advantage of the grass areas when things opened up a bit, then it was on to the streets. It was a beautiful morning, 45 degrees and sunny at race time, could have been a bit warmer for my liking but perfect running weather.
The course took you through the back roads of Redding, county atmosphere, lots of trees and nature, and hardly any traffic. Around the 7 mile mark the course turned into a gravel road. To me this seemed like a road that was dug up for paving on a later date, definitely not barefoot friendly. It wasn’t a compact trail of rocks (which is better to run on barefoot) but instead scattered rocks, gravel, and dirt. Thankfully it wasn’t too long but it definitely slowed me down. I was keeping a 8 mile pace up to that point, which was my goal for the race.
In the back of my mind I was hoping I wouldn’t hit a road like that again, wishful thinking. I knew the course did a little loop looking at the course map, and the loop just happened to bring the runners into a park for the turn around. I passed this lady cheering people on, she says to me “oh my barefoot! I hope you trained on gravel because you are going to need it!” After making a right turn lo and behold the entrance into the park. This was worse than the first gravel road, it was about a half mile or more, there were some tolerable areas, and straight out insane areas. Some parts of the trail were man-made, like the type of rocks you see lining railroad tracks, sharp, big and not cool. Thank you God for creating adrenaline, because the race adrenaline is what got me through this second stage of gravel trails. I was just thinking run light, skim the rocks (try at least), increase cadence, and keep moving. My pace definitely took a major hit on this section, i was happy to be back on the road after that short battle and with just a few more miles to go until the finish.
After the race my feet felt great, even the next day, it’s amazing how resilient the feet can be. The question now is knowing this race is not really barefoot friendly in two areas, would I run it again barefoot? I would say yes. I go into races running barefoot without knowing what the course is like, which always puts some mystery and concern in me, especially if it’s a marathon, but it presents a fun challenge. Running barefoot you need to expect the unexpected with a new course. Next up the Fairfield, CT Half in June.
Pictures courtesy of: http://www.reddingroadrace.com/