The Wicked Creepy Halloween Trail Run turned out to be a wicked fun time. I rode up to the race in Bowdoin with Blaine and Erin, and traveled in close proximity for most of the way with Shauna, Kathy and Nicole. As the directions indicated the road to the hosts house soon became a rocky, bumpy dirt road, which turned into a rugged Jeep road and then got a bit worse. A pretty creepy way to start the evening in a car with low ground clearance. We were one of the first to arrive which meant we had plenty of time to get ready, and then stand around in the cold shivering and chatting.
A grand turnout of Trail Monsters were present, with a few friends becoming honorary monsters for the evening. I distributed TMR shirts and glow-in-the-dark (for 15 seconds) hockey masks to the team that included Chuck, Jim, Valerie, Erik and Lisa, in addition to those mentioned previously. As we gathered for the start Hannah went through the race instructions which came as an interesting surprise to most of us. The course was an out and back, "almost exactly 3.8 miles" lined with the carved jack-o-lanterns that participants had dropped of during the week before the race. Along the way there were four locations where runners would have to pick up a creepy item to bring back to the finish, only those who returned with all four items would be eligible for prizes. We were also warned about water on the course, and were promised that it wouldn't be more than waist deep. The final last minute surprise was that the start would be like a time trial, with runners heading off at 15 second intervals in a random order.
All 34 participants gathered around the start line and as each of our names were called made our way to the front and then headed off alone down the dark trail that was a continuation of the "road" we had arrived on. Mine was about the 10th name called, after Jim, Shauna, Valerie, Lisa and Superman (did I mention that everyone was in costume?) had hit the trail. Not knowing what to expect ahead I ran as fast as I felt on could on the unfamiliar trail. Before long there was a small stream crossing, some mud, lots of rocks, a few little hills and then we hit the puddles. I skirted around the edges of the puddles in an attempt to avoid discovering the one that was waist deep but it was impossible to stay dry. Within 5 minutes my feet were soaked and numb from the cold. But it was so much fun it didn't matter. As I ran I passed a lot of people, which was sometimes difficult as we all tried to navigate the obstacles of the rugged trail.
Another element of surprise along the course was the "volunteers" in costume who would jump out from the darkness to scare the runners. More funny than scary actually. I missed the first treat along the trail, but reached into a bucket at the second location to pull out a plastic spider from amongst a few pounds of cooked spaghetti. The third stop was another bucket filled with peeled grapes and more plastic spiders.
Just before the turnaround I started to close in on Superman who had started about a minute before me. The halfway point was at an old cemetery, completely decorated with jack-o-lanterns and we had to climb a stone wall into the cemetery and retrieve a treat from a ghoul hiding behind a grave stone. Brilliant. I was wearing my Moeben Sleeves which have little pockets and proved to be perfect for stowing the treats while I ran.
Shortly after heading back up the trail I passed Blaine who was heading out in the opposite direction. I knew he would be trying to catch me and I was trying my best to stay ahead. I figured this would probably be my only chance to cross the finish line ahead of him in a race. Since I was now familiar with the course (yeah right) and I knew that a bunch of people were on my tail I pushed the pace a little bit. It proved to be an added challenge dealing with all the oncoming runners and their blinding lights, not to mention the fact that we were running straight at each other and everyone was trying to navigate around the puddles and rocks.
About halfway through the way back I was skirting the edge of a particularly large puddle, could have been a pond I'm not sure, and I hit a slippery rock that sent me sprawling into the icy water. Thankfully my treats were tucked away neatly in my sleeve pockets so I didn't have to worry about retrieving them from the water. I think I was taking this race a little too seriously. Eventually I reached the one spot I had missed on the way out where I needed to pick up my final item. I looked into the bucket and a hand reached up at me. "Give me my treat!" I demanded. The hand disappeared and returned a second later with a set of plastic vampire teeth. Thank you!
From here it was a short sprint to the finish and by now there wasn't anyone else on their way out so I could really run fast. My feet had lost all sensation and a chill was starting to set into the rest of my body from my little swim so it felt good to run hard and generate a little heat. I crossed the finish line second overall, which was pretty meaningless since the race was a time trial but it meant I was there to see everyone else come in. It was great to be there and see so many Trail Monsters cross the line.
After the race there was cold beer, hot chocolate and plenty of sweets. There was even a fire to warm up by. Perfect. This race had a great atmosphere and I hope Doug and Hannah put on more events like this throughout the year, they pretty much said they were going to. After hanging around for quite a while eating cookies and comparing bloody knees Doug raffled off a bunch of goodies and announced the overall winners. Congratulations to Trail Monsters Blaine and Shauna for finishing with the fastest times.