Sunday, November 23, 2014

Revival with CCR

Camp Chestnut Ridge Trail Runs is one of those small, local races that I have grown to love so much over the past few years. It's a race packed with good cheer, good people, great food, great trails, and an awesome atmosphere. And yet in its fifth year, it is still sort of a well kept secret among the local trail running community. It shouldn't be a secret at all. It's a gem of a little race.

I've been trying to get to CCR Trail Runs for the past 2 years. Both previous years were derailed with illness or injury. This year, I finally managed to make it to the starting line in decent health, having perhaps bitten off a bit more than I could chew with an 8 mile race registration. Having just run a 5 mile trail race the previous weekend which felt like a Goldilocks distance, I didn't quite have the confidence that I could sustain good form for 8+ miles of single track. But when it comes to races, what I lack in confidence I more than make up for with stupidity. Never underestimate the power of stupidity.

Bad Moon Rising
Of course, the night before the race I felt the distinct sinus pressure that tells me I am about to fall off the cliff of good health onto the jagged rocks of sinusitis. Harnessing the power of stupidity, I shot some saline up my nostrils, took some pain meds and went to bed chanting the "I am NOT sick" mantra.

The next morning, I woke up feeling pretty good. Stupid good, even.

Down on the Corner
One excellent benefit of this year's race that other runners with small children will appreciate is childcare. As in FREE childcare, provided by the race. This race benefits a kids camp, so this is a very shrewd move on the part of the race organizers. Knowing that my 8 and 10 year old would at least be monitored by an adult during the race and that my wife and I wouldn't have to arrange for a sitter was a very big deal. Childcare alone might even bring us back for the race in coming years, but that's not where the race goodness ended, by any means.

Arriving at the race, which is a really easy 20 minute drive from southern Durham, parking was a breeze. Checking in, we were given the normal race shirt, but also a very nice pair of custom running socks! I love gear swag like this from races.

Oh, but the socks were nothing compared to the food spread at the start-finish area. For a small race, the goodies were excellent and reminded me of the food at an ultra marathon, rather than a small 4 or 8 mile trail race.

Very good coffee.

Look at that spread!

Enough about the amenities, how was the actual race? Glad you asked. The course is a mixture of technical single track and broad bridle trail. Both the 4 mile race and the 8 mile race (which simply adds on to the 4 mile race) seemed to be about 80% single track and 20% bridle trail. This was a great mixture for the fast folks, as the bridle trails provided a half dozen or so sections to hit full stride, offering a nice break from the slower single track. For a turtle like me, it was good to hit some stretches where I didn't have to concentrate so hard on foot placement.

The 4 milers and 8 milers all start together, so there were a lot of fast 4 milers out front (and passing me constantly), but once I started the second 4 mile loops, it was nice and quiet. In fact, I only saw about 3 people during the entire second half, but that's fine with me. I like a peaceful run.

"I will smash that camera" says 431.
Beautiful bridle trails.
Some tough single track, even with the
leaf cover blown off.

8 milers get to run around this lake twice. Gorgeous both times.

Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
Luckily, I'm heading back into good times, even if my running isn't "good" just yet. I'm just glad there are still a few happy little local race surprises out there. Races like these remind of those Summer days when it rains while the sun is shining - a pleasant, refreshing surprise.

I've seen bad times and bad races. CCR Trail Races are neither. Do yourself a favor and check out this race next year.