I can recall about this time of year--late October/early November--growing up, a couple large tomes would come in the mail. When the Sears and JC Penny Christmas catalogs arrived, my sister and I would snag them immediately, and lay down with pens circling dozens of Star Wars figures, bikes (different items in Susie's case, not limited to Strawberry Shortcake dolls), what-have-you, that would officially kick off the "wish list" for the upcoming season.
I miss the wish lists. And not to be completely cut-off from childhood (since I rarely feel like I am anyway :), I thought I'd throw out a trail running/racing wish list for 2009. Something to think about, drool over, get feedback on, and figure out how to train for.
In this case, it's not a pie-in-the-sky wish list. Like the childhood lists, it represents [races] that seem doable, driveable, in the realm of possibility. It would be fun to throw some of the way cool west coast races on there (I would LOVE to run the Big Sur Trail Marathon some time!), but I know that isn't likely to materialize this year.
I am starting/building the list around three staples: one per season, spring, summer, fall. I hope to throw another couple races on the docket, something early in the year and later, but this is a great foundation.
It is also open to interpretation and suggestions. The racing experience, for me, is enhanced by having others along to share it, participate in it, enjoy it. If my Rise Up Runner peeps have some different wish-list races of their own, throw them out there in the comments. Let's get a discussion going!
And the thought process comes on the heels of talking with Landy Cook, who has been working his way back from a torn meniscus this summer, with surgery in early September. He's been biking and swimming, and eyeing a return to running. Thinking about racing and running, he says he doesn't want to enter races just to enter races, rather to do races he REALLY wants to do, either for the course, the people, or the "soul" of the race. I wholeheartedly concur.
So here are my three staples. Three trail races, each between 30 and 35 miles. One in Maryland, one in Pennsylvania, one in Virginia--none of which I've run before, but each of which I have heard great things about. And for those interested in the races, but not quite the distance, the PA and VA races offer 18 and 13.1 mile options.
HAT Run - March 21, 2009, 50K (31 Miles). The Hinte Anderson Trail (HAT) 50K is a spring classic. Run in and around the Susquehanna State Park, it attracts runners from all up and down the east coast and was the subject of a big feature article in Trail Runner magazine, looking at the race's history, runners, and the course. It's a venerable and fun trail ultra, which provides great incentive for long, winter trail runs :). The race fills up every year, so early registration is key.
Rachel Carson Trail Challenge - June 20, 2009, 34 Miles. I wanted to do this for 2008, but couldn't make it happen. It's in Pittsburgh, PA, home of friends and family for us. It is conceived as a "challenge"--a full day "hike," which is frequented by trail and ultra runner as well as plenty of long distance hikers. The Rachel Carson Trail doesn't believe in switchbacks, so the trails go straight up and over mountains, making it tough beyond simply challenging. The balance of that is that it is low-key, with people taking it easy and pushing themselves to cover the distance in a day. I love the concept of hiking/running a trail from end-to-end vs. an arbitrary start and finish. I am a fan of the location and the excuse to visit friends and family. And there is an 18-mile shorter option, if Joel doesn't feel like training for the full 34 ;)
Great Eastern Endurance Run - last weekend in September, 50K (31 Miles). 2008 was the year of heading north to Vermont. 2009 could be the year to head south to Charlottesville, Virginia, one of the trail running meccas of the Mid-Atlantic. The Charlottesville Running Company and Bad to the Bone races holds some top notch races on the trails and roads around Wahoo country throughout the year. The GEER has three options: 100K, 50K, half-marathon. I'm thinking 50K because I am not yet at the point of picturing a 62 mile outing. But there is time for it to grow on me, perhaps (yikes, did I just write that?). Charlottesville is a great, fun town, could be a great weekend destination, a la Vermont, with lots for folks to do. And as to the course, go to the site and check out some of the many, many photos, that go along with this one...
So there is the beginning of my trail running/racing wish list for 2009. What do you think? What's missing? Anything to add in January/early February or November/December? Any takers for road trips? Put your thinking/wishing caps on. And now, there's plenty more adventures and races still to come in 2008!
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