I was fairly excited about the race but had no clue what to expect since the first trail race was very small and not crowded. I did a practice run the weekend before to see what I was up against. I've run at Castlewood before but only part of it.
The tone for this race is: annoyed. The race start was organized with pace groups, although people were flying by in the first 2 miles. They let about 50 or so people go at a time to lessen the crowds. Even with the waves it was still a bit crowded. The first 2.5 miles are relatively flat and I suspect that people went out too fast. I have the problem of wondering what other people are thinking during a race. I was hold the correct pace for my placement at the start but people were still passing me. I kept thinking if you started behind me, you're running twice the distance and you pass me at 2 miles, you're running too fast. Whatever though, I shouldn't worry about what other people are doing.
Anyway, the first 2.5 miles were uneventful. Then came the stairs. There are about 200 steps, instead of a hill, to climb. People were moving slow...very slow. There is barely enough room to pass but some people from the tri club started passing me so I hopped on. A lot of people didn't want to let anyone by. This set the tone for the rest of the race, people getting pissed about being passed.
After the steps there is a little more uphill which I promptly attempted to fall up. For some reason I guess I forgot I was on a trail and watched the person in front of me instead of the ground. Luckily I just had a couple scrapes and I squeezed a lot of water out of my bottle. Once I got to the top I knew going down was going to suck. I can go downhill fairly quick but, there were a lot of people without trail shoes and I don't think many people racing run trails on a regular basis. Granted, I'm fairly new but I've been running trails in the dark with a headlamp.
It's almost more difficult to go slow downhill because you don't realize when people are going to slow down. Half the race I was afraid of running someone over. The downhills are easy switchbacks so it wasn't very technical at all. After the first downhill there was a creek to cross. I thought it was funny how they had the creek roped off so you HAD to get your feet wet.
Then it was back uphill...straight up...no turns...the one thing that I don't like about Castlewood. I passed some people while walking up the hill. There was no point in running since my HR was pretty high even while walking and the race was only half over. This was where it got a bit more annoying.
I would pass people on the short downhills but, they felt the need to repass me on the flats or the uphills. After the second time you'd think they would give me the courtesy of staying behind me...nope. I certainly would if this happened more than once.
Then it finally thinned out for the rest of the race. I attempted to pass more people on a downhill at very wide part of the trail. I looked up to make sure I wasn't going to run into them and sure enough, I tripped on something. I didn't fall but I probably doubled my speed trying to regain my footing. I also manage to narrowly miss taking out a girl in front of me. She didn't seem to notice, she just said "nice catch." I said thanks and apologized for almost taking her out like an unprotected wide receiver coming over the middle.
Then it was off to the finish...where they had M&Ms and BBQ.
My advice to anyone thinking about a trail race...get some trail shoes and practice trail running before the race.
Not much of an elevation change