Gail's Trail Run Race Report

This past weekend (well, yesterday) was the annual Gail's Trail Run.  This is a great event, hosted by the Mossman Triathlon Club that, in honor of Gail Connor (wife of Team Mossman's first swim coach), benefits the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Normally this event is held at the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Westchester New York - a 10K loop with 2 water crossings, a couple of challenging climbs (one aptly named 'The Anthill') and depending on the weather it can be muddy and wet, or snow covered - icy - and…well….wet.  (The second water crossing is about waist deep) 

Exiting the second water crossing at Gail's @ Ward Pound Ridge 2007

But for logistical and permit reasons, this years GTR was held in Huntington State Park, in Redding CT.  A bit of a shorter course (only 5.5 miles) but looking back, it was well worth the hour or so drive to get to the race.

Cut to: Dumping rain.  Temps are in the high 30's and the rain is just not letting up.  We (my good friends Tom O, and Greg S) hustle from the car to the registration tent, get ourselves checked in, and run back to the car (I know, wimps) where we waited for the race time to arrive - which we knew was upon us when one of the race organizers honked their car horn to get everyone out of their vehicles and to the start line.

We shuffled along with everyone else over to the start area and got out last minute instruction - basically telling us to watch for the flags marking the course, and to have fun with the water crossing.  With that we lined up and the race was on.

Immediately from the start there were about 5 of us out front.  As the first mile had us on a fairly well groomed carriage trail we were holding a pretty good pace.  Someone in our small group was wearing a Garmin and I heard him say "...6:20-6:30 pace" as he pulled back.  Ooops!  Anyway, at one point one of the runners surged just before we hit the first section of single-track.  I thought about going with him, but I didn't want to press the pace too much this early - and the guy who I was side by side with wasn't having anything to do with me passing him.  So I stayed on his shoulder and ducked behind him into the heavy trails.  Kind of a mistake.

Come to find this guy, while quick on the flats, wasn't too technical a runner (not that I'm all that great technically myself) and really slowed up on the up's and down's over rocks and roots in the single-track section.  I realized that the leader was suddenly nowhere in sight, so I yelled to the guy ahead of me  "…we're losing him - he's getting away"….but much to my chagrin he was content to hold his position.

Then we hit the water crossing.  I was about 5 yards behind the guy ahead of me and wasn't sure why he was entering the water so gingerly.  I decided that this is where I'm going to get around him and plowed into the water - Mistake #2.  There was a thin coating of water covering a nice layer of ice.  On the fast approach you just couldn't see it.  But as I hit it, I crashed through,gashed my shin open a little bit, and staggered to keep my chest above the water.

Post-race souvenir

Soon after came the first serious climb.  The climb went on for at least 3 or 4 minutes - about a 1/4 mile or so (it felt like more) and I realized that I was putting some distance on everyone.  As we were at about the half way point of the race I decided that this was the time to make a move.  While I sounded like a Sherpa in the Himalayas I kept my pace on the rocky, muddy, climb and was able to put a bit of a gap on the group.  By the time I hit the second climb I was finally able to see the leader about a minute ahead of me up the hill.  Still a little bit away, but at least I could chase him. 

At the end, while I kept my gap on everyone and held my position, the leader was too far away to reel in.  I crossed the finish line in 2nd place and was pretty darn happy with the result. 

Kudos to the Mossman team for another great race.  Gail's is one of those events where you wonder what the hell you're doing while you're in the middle of it, but you can't wait to do it again next year.