This was my second time running the Vert Trail Series Sasquatch Race. The best news is that, unlike last year, I did not wipe out mid-race and skin my knee! I don’t normally run trail (there just isn’t a convenient place to do it around here), so I tend to be hyper-focused on the ground to make sure I don’t catch my foot on a rock or a branch and topple over. Last year I got a little too comfortable on one of the flats and hooked my foot into a tree branch. This year, I’m proud to say, I did not let my attention wander.
This race is a short 2.35 miles, but feels longer thanks to the rolling terrain in the woods at the Fells. Runners start in three waves, and begin by running a short section of road to get to the start of the trail. The trail itself opens with a huge, steep, and rocky hill (which I had conveniently forgotten about, perhaps because my memory of last time is hyper-focused on my skinned knee). I ended up hike-walking a short stretch of this after realizing that I could maintain my speed at lower effort that way.
After the initial uphill, the route offers a number of downhills and flats, with just a few additional uphills toward the end. The big difference between a trail run and a road race, aside from the obvious change in terrain, is that the path is narrow and it makes it hard to pass other runners. I found myself watching for openings in the crowd to move a little ahead of other runners. The trail also meant that I was acutely aware of when the fast runners in Wave 2 overtook me. Woosh, woosh, as incredibly fast runners swooped by on either side.
The race finishes back on the field where the start line was, where runners do one quick lap to cross the finish line. Although at this point I was ready to be done with the race, it was nice to emerge into an area where there were cheering supporters and some sunlight. My final time was about a minute quicker than the last time I ran the race (probably due to me not spending any time skinning my knee this go-around).
After the race came the best part, the party! Races in this series are excellent because of the free high-quality local beer offered afterward. Notch, Night Shift, and Slumbrew were all pouring beer for the runners at the after-party. If there was food this year (beyond copious free samples of Larabars and Cascadian Farm), I didn’t see it, but the beer kept me happy enough not to mind. These races always feature music and dancing at the after-party, although I’ve yet to have enough post-race beer to partake.
One more race in the books, and a PR for me in the very common and popular 2.35 mile distance!