Sylamore Trail 25k Reflections, aka Blogging From the Bathtub

Written by Philip Walter on Feb 17 at 5:35 pm in cardiovascular training, hiking/trail running, itBODYnature

Before I get to my ramblings on the Sylamore Trail 25k Run, I just wanted to say thanks a ton to Greg Eason and the folks who helped him organize this race, and the 50k too. This was great fun! Also, if you care not about my personal trail running saga, just skip this post. I assure you there is still tons of great stuff for you here. I encourage you to look around, and please, if you like anything you read here, subscribe to my feed so you don’t miss the next mind, body, spirit transformation article.

Soaking in Bath Therapy after running the Sylamore Trail 25k Race.

I am now soaking in a wonderfully luxurious, hot bath and sipping a cold beer after having run 16 miles in the Sylamore Trail 25k Run. It was my first official trail race and my first official race longer than a 10k (6.25 miles). I prepared as well as I could, but a bout with the cold/flu funk cost me one very valuable week.

We started at 7:15 am under a fairly thick blanket of mist, at about 35 degrees, from Angler’s Restaurant in Allison, AR. After a little more than a mile on pavement and dirt road, we intrepid runners had to foard the Sylamore Creek before joining up with the Sylamore Trail itself.

I must admit to a bit of sticker shock when I heard about this creek crossing affair. I wobbled around about how to handle it – whether to bring extra shoes, roll my running tights up so as not to get them wet, etc. Then, in my first and only real disappointment surrounding the race, I found out the 25k was not a point-to-point race from Angler’s all the way to the Barkshed Campground. It was an out-and-back, meaning we had not one but two creek crossings to contend with. Greg admitted point-to-point is the ideal way to run the race, but it would be a logistical nightmare to arrange a shuttle back to Angler’s for the nearly 100 racers finishing at various times of the day.

So, when we arrived at the creek crossing, I jumped right in, asking my fellow runners, “So this is what we paid for, huh?” I think one of them laughed. Lots of hooting and hollering, and it turned out not to be nearly the bugaboo I expected. The creek was only up to my knees or perhaps a bit higher, and while my feet and lower legs were tingly and numb for a few minutes, it didn’t affect the rest of my race at all.

The Sylamore Trail itself is beautiful. The first 5 miles or so, from the creek crossing to the Blanchard Springs Campground is a well marked up and down trail. It’s mostly narrow single-track decorated by a lot of cave-like rock structures and many swaths of running water that traverse the path.

After Blanchard Springs there’s a pretty mean climb that starts with steps, then goes back to mostly single-track trail as you gain about 400 feet in elevation before planing out atop the mountain. This is a nice spot to pick up your pace as you head back down, where you meet up with a wider dirt road and the turnaround point. Punch your number here and head back.

All the racers were really great. Passing on single-track, especially with a drop-off to one side, can be a bit treacherous, but everyone was eager to get out of your way if they felt you coming up from behind. It’s a pretty pleasant run. Ground cover is mostly dirt, tree roots, and large, flat rocks. Not a lot of smaller rocks waiting to sprain your ankle for you. It was pretty muddy and the flat rocks can be slick in places.

My goal was to run the thing in 3 hours, but I missed that by 11 minutes, which gave me a pace of 11min 55sec per mile, and while I didn’t hit my goal, it was quite an improvement over my previous lengthy trail run, where I went 14.25 miles in 3hrs 20min. I’ll be back next year to hit my goal.

One more note – I had a GPS watch on that I borrowed from a good friend for this race, and I loved it. It makes it so easy to monitor your pace. I plan to compile the data soon and make the .kmz file available for download to Google Earth.

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