Thursday, January 14, 2010

Do you like the rough stuff?

When the U.S. National Whitewater Center started offering races last year, lots of casual runners signed up -- and lots of casual runners came away frustrated.

Of last summer's 10K, one friend told me: "For someone who doesn't do trails, it was the hardest run I have ever done!" Said another, of the Run Like a Girl 8K: "Several people twisted ankles immediately upon entering the woods. The trails have a lot of roots [and] there was also a LOT of gravel on hills."

I'm not sharing this with you to scare you away from the inaugural Charlotte Running Company Trail Race, scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 23. (On the contrary, it's a beautiful facility, and if you haven't been out there yet, you should go.) Rather, I'm sharing this so those new to trail running have some idea what they're getting into when they sign up for either the 3.8-, the 8.2- or the 13-mile race.

But don't take it from me -- I'm still a novice myself when it comes to the trails. To get the full scoop on the races -- and the single-track trail system through covered woods that runners will traverse -- I talked this week to race director Donny Forsyth.

Q. So what exactly are these trails out there like?
The trail is approximately three feet wide, but sometimes wider in certain sections. The primary surface is dirt. There are some roots, rocks, leaves and pine needles throughout the trail.

Q. Is this race for advanced trail runners only?
Nope. The CRC Trail Race is for runners of ALL abilities who are looking for something different than a typical road race.

Q. What kind of shoes should people wear?
Both road and trail running shoes will work great.

Q. Got safety tips for people who are worried about spraining their ankle?
Some tips to help prevent a fall or ankle roll are: 1. Make sure you leave plenty of space between you and person ahead of you so you can see the ground in front of you. This will allow you to spot roots, rocks, stumps, ruts etc. and be able to avoid them. 2. Don't shuffle your feet. 3. Keep your eyes on the trail about 3-4 feet ahead of you to spot any obstacles. 4. Take it easy on the downhills.

Q. How exactly do people pass each other on the trail? What's the proper etiquette?
The best way to pass is to let the runner in front of you know that you would like to pass by saying "on your left," or "on your right," or "can I pass when you get a chance?"

Q. How much slower should the average runner expect to cover a mile as compared to their pace on roads?
This depends on the skill level of the runner and the difficulty of the course. I would guess at our race you would run about one minute per mile slower.

Q. Why the odd distances?
Unlike road races, there are less routes to take in a trail system, and at the U.S. Whitewater Center, there are only a few places to enter and exit the trails. We feel like the routes that we chose will give participants varying distances to choose from and allow them to experience many aspects of the great trail system at the USNWC.

Q. Can people walk the race?
Participants can walk but there is a cut off time of three hours for all racers.

Q. I noticed that people will still have to pay $5 to park at the Whitewater Center...
The $5 parking fee is charged by the USNWC, which I have no control over. ... Just as an FYI, the fee is per car, not per person, so maybe participants can carpool to save money. The parking fees at the USNWC help them maintain one of the best recreational facilities in our great state.

Q. What if it rains?
If it rains hard all weekend and the rain date of January 24th doesn't work, we'll push it back one week to Saturday, January 30th.

Registration for the Charlotte Running Company Trail Race is $25 (3.8-miler)/$35 (8.2-miler)/$45 (13-miler), and goes up after Jan. 20 by $5. This is the first event in the Carolina Trail Run Series. More details are on the race page: here.


Anonymous said...

I remember a race helt last year and you had to show your runner's bib to avoid paying the parking fee. I, like most people, hate to pay for parking. Why the change now? This seems a bit extreme. Before you jump on me, I have been the the WWC before and paid to park when I used the other facilities. It is a great place. I hope runners don't have to pay for water at the aid stations on the course!

Donny Forsyth, Race Director said...

I appreciate the feedback on this subject because I really struggled with what to do about the parking fee - whether to charge $5 extra for the race and have the parking fee included or to let people pay it on the way in to the race. I decided not to include it in the race fee because there are people that own an annual pass and they would essentially be paying twice. Additionally rather than to tack $5 onto every participant's entry, people can carpool and just pay the $5 once. That's why I made my decision but if people would rather it be included in the race fee, I can change it for next year. I hope to see many of you on the 23rd!

Audra said...

I highly recommend trail shoes. They really steady your ankles on trails. Especially if you have any balance issues.

Anonymous said...

I see where there will be a 8K race on Feb 20. This race, the at the Hard Core Serious Trail Runner 8K, does not mention anything about a $5 parking fee. Will parking be charged for this race also?

Robin Kruse said...

I am the co-director of the hardCORE serious trail runner 8K. We have been graced by the Trail Running Gods and have gotten permission to waive the $5 parking fee. You must however have your race bib or reciept to enter for free. Please pick up packet before race day.
Robin Kruse

Joy said...

@Donny: That was a good call as I see it. Autonomy is a great thing!

Samantha said...

I am tweleve year old and I am running this race with my x-country team and this is my first race that is longer than a 5k. Is there and training tips for me so that I can be prepaired for this race. I was also wondering how hard the course is hill-wise.

Samantha said...