Into the Darkness Night Trail Run – Race Report

At the end of October, I ran the Into the Darkness Night Trail Run 4 mile race for the second time. Last year, I was very unsure about willingly signing up for a nighttime trail race. I really detest being in the woods at night. But I ended up having a great experience and a lot of fun, and knew I would sign up for it again this year.

This year’s race was interesting, as I was in the midst of my 4x4x24 training block. Into the Darkness would be my fourth run of the day, and I had no idea how my legs would feel or where I would be mentally – would I be totally over running by this point? I was pleasantly surprised with how things went.

Barry and I made the trip up to Roanoke’s Explore Park on Saturday afternoon. It was in the 50’s with rain in the forecast. We arrived at the park, picked up our bibs and race shirts, and prepared for the race start at 7 PM. The course was a bit different from last year, which would really come into play during the final half mile of the race.

Some of the multi-colored flashing skulls that were placed throughout the course. Photo: Mountain Junkies

Barry and I were both in the second wave, and we lined up behind the start line to wait for our 7:10 PM start. Finally, we were off and running! We headed down the road and about a quarter mile later, we turned onto the single track trails. Instantly, we were slowed by a conga line. But I didn’t mind. I was at this race to have a good time and enjoy all of the decorations Josh and Gina put out along the course.

The first half of the race was primarily downhill, with a few uphills sprinkled in. We finally got spread out a bit, and I was able to run at a steady pace. I was surprised at how fresh my legs felt, since I was closing in on 16 miles for the day. My only problem during the race was being too hot! I didn’t anticipate how humid it would feel in the woods, nor how hot it would be to run in a face mask!

Wearing a costume at the race is completely optional, but I think it’s a lot of fun. There were even two other robbers at the race! But I learned that I will definitely not be doing any running costumes in the future that use masks. I stayed committed to my costume during the race, though, and never took the mask off.

With about a mile to go we ran through an open area that had a bunch of blow up Halloween decorations. They were really neat to see. The cat one was even a bit creepy in the dark, because it slowly moved its head back and forth.

Remember how I mentioned this year’s new race course was particularly significant for the last half mile? Yea – that’s because it was all uphill! What a doozy. I was SO hot at this point and feeling a bit tired, and alternated between hiking and jogging to get to the top.

Barry and I finally made it to the top and the finish line was in sight. There were a bunch of plastic spiders, snakes, and other creepy crawlers on the ground right before the finish line – too funny. Barry and I crossed the line together in 56:08. Last year I finished in 56:12. I’m nothing if not consistent!

After the race, we enjoyed some Mama Mia’s pasta and a bunch of other yummy foods (veggies with ranch dip, crackers and hummus, candy, pumpkin bread, etc.). We hung out for a bit and then hit the road to head home since I had another run to do at 11 PM. It didn’t really rain during the race, aside from some sprinkles. But as we headed down the road the skies opened up and it poured. I’m glad we didn’t have a downpour during the race, although I may not have been as hot if it had!

From here I’ve got three races on back to back weekends in November. They’re all very different. Old Glory is a technical trail half marathon with lots of climbing. The Richmond Half is a road race. And the Crooked Road 24 hour is just a beast of its own. Crooked Road is my A goal, so my focus at the other two will be to stay healthy, run smart, and remember CR24 is the goal!

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