From the moment I signed up for this race, I was unsure of my decision. Don’t get me wrong, Mountain Junkies races are as good as it gets. But I do not like the dark, and by extension I do not like running in the woods in the dark. You can’t conquer something without facing it, though. Plus this race was supposed to be a lot of fun.
The race was 4 miles long and was held at Explore Park in Roanoke. The course was a mix of pavement, singletrack dirt trails, and grass trails. I got to the race about an hour before the start, picked up my shirt and bib, and hung out. I enjoyed seeing all of the runners walk around pre-race in their costumes.
Around 6:45 PM we gathered for a pre-race talk. It sounded like the race course was well marked (Mountain Junkies races always are) so I had no worries of getting lost. We mingled around before the start of the race at 7 PM.
The race was split into two waves, and I started with wave 2 at 7:10 PM. We immediately headed up a hill that’s lovingly nicknamed “vomit hill.” From there we headed into the woods and onto the trails. I wasn’t sure how I would feel, since I haven’t been running hills that much. But my legs felt strong as we ran along the rolling terrain.
I was running in a line of people that was slightly spread out. Because it was dark, I ran along without much concept of when we were going uphill or how big the hills were. I was cautious on the downhills, though, since parts of the course were pretty slick with clay-type mud.
Since this was a halloween-themed race, there were lots of little surprises for us hidden in the woods. There were motion-activated noise makers that howled and there were lots of flashing decorations. I was having fun and never once did I wish for the race to be over (which has always been my past experience when running in the dark). Before I knew it, we were already on the last mile.
It flattened out a bit and I picked up my pace, which felt good. I ran strong up the final hill, looped around the village area, and made my way to the finish line. I didn’t know what to expect for this race, but I finished in 56:10 which I’m happy with.
There was a post-race feast for the race participants. They were serving delicious pasta with marinara sauce, veggies and crackers with hummus, homemade granola and pumpkin bread. I enjoyed some dinner, and hung out with a few friends to watch the awards ceremony. Overall, I had a great time and look forward to doing this race again in years to come!