Finishing Time: 1:05:32
Training: Ran the course of the race a week before – VERY GLAD WE DID THAT
Overall Recovery: Slept for two hours after and had a nice huge glass of iced coffee to cool down
WELL, I’VE NEVER done a trail race quite like this before. Come to think of it, I’ve never done a trail race before, so when one of my running groups, Bala Cynwyd Running Club, decided we’d run through the Wissahickon Trail Classic course a week before the race was to take place, I knew it was a good idea.
The 6 mile course takes runners through the most stunning parts of Forbidden Drive/ Wissahickon Valley Park, which is quite possibly the most beautiful place in the world. The course has high elevation, lots of rocks and sticks on which to accidentally slip (thank goodness I didn’t – this time) and at some points along the trail, the race gets so crowded that you’re sandwiched between the people in front and behind you. Though needing to keep up with the person directly in front of me and not slow down for the person behind me was certainly enough motivation to keep me constantly moving.
AND having people running directly in front and behind you makes for pretty awesome entertainment/ imagination fun times during the run. Here are the following scenarios I imagined whilst running in such close proximity to others around me through a gorgeous forest setting:
- I’m in the fifth sequel of The Hunger Games movie set and have to outrun the bad guys of the Capitol
- I’m being chased by brain-thirsty zombies in the final apocalypse that will soon end the human race
- I’m being chased by Nazis through the forest of Forbidden Drive/ Wissahickon Valley Park (not sure how they made it to the US but whatever)
- Zac Efron is chasing me because he wants my number (I wish)
- I’m trying to get to a shelter while attempting to outrun an angry asteroid that will soon hit Earth in one hour
- I need to run to the village of Agra-Voor located in an ancient rune hidden in Forbidden Drive/ Wissahickon Valley Park to warn the locals that the virus the doctors thought was cured has multiplied and is spreading across the globe and that we need to return to the underwater city called Fountain of Sorrows to reverse the cure as soon as possible
Anyway, now for an account of the Wissahickon Trail Classic!
THE RACE STARTED off promptly and although we had bibs (which we’d picked up an hour before as there was no expo) there were no time chips to mark one’s official time. This meant that whatever time the clock read as you finished the race, was the time that would be marked down for you. I did have my Garmin on me so I was able to subtract the amount of time it took me to get to the start line from the time I finished the race.
Even though there were only about 400 runners, the narrow trails were crowded. Once we all got past the first steep hill, runners seemed to fall into a natural line, one behind the other. Lots of people stayed in groups and chatted but I kept my eyes on the trail as it looped upwards and back down. At several points throughout the race, I had to stop to walk up the hills for fear of slipping and because I was barely running at all since the elevation was so high.
A few times as I ran, I found myself experiencing vertigo or listing off to the side as I ran downhill. Going down the slopes was probably the scariest part for me since I could feel my legs shaking – this race really makes you work for it! – and one small trip or slip up could send you careening downward – never mind the line of people behind you! I was glad I was wearing my contacts so I didn’t have to worry about my glasses sliding off my face during such a grueling run.
Finally, at the end of the race, runners ran with gravity down a lengthy hill and pushed their exhausted and hill-trodden legs toward the finish line signs, which were held in place by two polls on either side of a roped off section.
Adorably, us runners had to remain in the order in which we finished so the volunteers could rip off the numbers on our bibs and put them on a board which tallied runners’ times in order. The most old-school way I’ve ever seen!
OVERALL, this is absolutely a race I would recommend for runners of all abilities and strides. While the Wissahickon Trail Classic sounds slightly terrifying with its looming hills, overhanging trees and sticks that are waiting to trip you up, just remember that you will feel like a CHAMPION after finishing.
Your legs might burn for the next few days and your lungs will definitely not be happy with you for it but this is one trail race you have to run. There’s a reason it’s called the ‘Classic.’ 😉