Sunday, January 29, 2006

My First Cross-country Race

This morning was a cool -7C/20F as I headed to my first cross-country race. My legs were kind of tired from helping a friend move furniture yesterday (Saturday), so I was just looking for a fun run today.

The race was held in Kraichtal-Oberacker, a small village about 40 minutes from our house. As is typical by the smaller races in Germany the local light-athletic club sponsored the race and the Start was in front of their clubhouse. As I picked up my start number I noticed a few people that I have seen at other races. Most seem to be connected with area sports clubs, a sign that there were some pretty hard-core runners in the crowd.

The sun was shining as we lined up at 10:00 a.m., 159 runners. The race was three laps of 3.3K, the trail was mostly through the surrounding forest. They announced shortly before the race that the trail was snow-covered, frozen solid and icy in spots. They warned us to be particularly careful on a couple downhill portions as there was ice under the snow.

The starting pistol was a relief for most, as it was cold just standing around. We headed over a small soccer field and into the woods. There was barely room to pass as we snaked our way through the forest on a small trail. After about a kilometer we started climbing a hills, the pace slowed some, but picked up on the downhill side. After the second hill we circled to the left and started making our way back towards the Start over a serious of gently rolling hill. Normally this would have been a fun stretch as it wound through the trees, but today it was covered with frozen branches, footprints and other obstacles. More than one runner tripped and fell through here. After about 3K we popped out of the forest and ran around the soccer field, the end of the first round.

The second round went rather uneventful, I latched onto a couple people that were doing a comfortable speed that felt about right for today. The runners were quite, I guess too busy watching the trail. We finished the second round and the speed seemed to automatically increase. I struggled to keep up with the runner in front of me. I found out later he was 11 years younger than I and belonged to a swim club. He really picked up the pace the last few minutes of the race, I really struggled to keep up, I could really feel all the stairs I walked up yesterday during the furniture moving. I tried to pass him on the last stretch over the soccer field, but he ended up finishing two seconds ahead of me.

I finished in 55:22, one of my slowest 10K races, but I am satisfied with the time considering that it was a cross-country run. I placed 115th out of 159 runners and 16/25 in my age group (M45). The winning male today finished in 34:39 (1977), the wining female in 48:56 (1986).

I think I forgot about the cold after the first minute or two, trail running is definitely more difficult than street races. All in all it was great fun, this was definitely not my last cross-country race. It appears that the cross-country races attract the more athletic types as compared to a road race. I finished much farther in the back as normal. On the other side I haven’t done any hill training since October. When my marathon is finished I need to work on core training and head for the hills.

Comments:
nice job!! i don't know how you run on trails covered with snow and ice and manage not to kill yourself! :)
 
That sounds neat! I know that my one try at cross-country felt incredibly difficult because the ground absorbs all your impact. Without the springback of pavement, or even the slight spring of the gravel & silt towpaths I usually run on, the energy got sucked out of me pretty quick. Plus the ups, downs, and constantly changing conditions underfoot take alot of concentration. Good show!!
 
that is great Jack. I would love to try some cross country running. There is a story in the latest Australian Runners World about a woman who runs them barefoot!
 
Great job Jack. Under an hour for a 10K is faster than me on a flat street course. So doing that for a trail course is just awesome!
 
Since you made it home in one piece, it was excellent training for the marathon.
 
Yay Jack!
 
Good job. A cross country, in icy weather, while preparing a marathon is not so easy. 16/25 in the age group is a good performance!
 
Damn proud of ya!!!!
 
Great job!! Cross country races sound like so much fun. Glad it wasn't TOO terribly icy for you!
 
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