Into the Darkness Night Trail Run – Race Report

On October 23, Barry and I ran the 15th annual Into the Darkness Night Trail Run. This run is a 4 mile race held at Explore Park in Roanoke, and as the name indicates it is a nighttime trail race. I’m not a big fan of running in the woods at night, but I love this race.

The race started at 7 PM and we hit some traffic on the interstate on our way to the race. Luckily, we still got there in plenty of time to pick up our race packets and attend the pre-race meeting at 6:40.

This year they did buffs with the above design. Source: Mountain Junkies

The race start was split into two waves and Barry and I were in wave 2, starting at 7:05. After the first wave was off and running we lined up in the starting area. I was excited to be running a no pressure, short and fun race.

At 7:05 we were off and running! The race started down at Jourey’s End, like it did in 2018. We ran up towards the road and immediately made our way up “vomit hill.” I alternated running and walking to make my way up the steep hill. At the top, we were all excited to see that the Illuminights Christmas lights display at the park had been turned on for the race.

Here’s a really bad photo of the lights

We turned into the parking lot at the top of the hill, ran by the tavern, and the onto the Christmas lights gravel walking trail. From there, we got to run through a portion of the Illuminights, which was really fun!

After winding our way through the Christmas lights, we turned onto single track trail. This first part is downhill, but I am never able to go very fast because it’s very rooty and I have a hard time with depth perception at night. After the downhill, we hit some more uphill before getting to mile 1.

There were lots of Halloween decorations throughout the woods, including sparkly spider webs, strings of purple and orange lights, motion-activated noise makers that sounded like werewolves, and multi-colored flashing skulls. I had so much fun running through the trails and seeing all of the different decorations and noise makers.

Barry and I continued winding our way through the twisty-turny singletrack trails until we hit another big downhill at mile 2. This took us down to the flatter part alongside the river. This section is mostly grass and gravel, and I was able to pick up my pace a lot. I knew we were headed for another big hill going up to the farmstead loop.

A little after mile 3, we turned left at the mill and made our way up another big hill. I was breathing hard while we hiked up this hill. It was in the upper 50’s/low 60’s, and per tradition for this race, I had overdressed and was getting hot. We finally made it up the hill and hit the farmstead loop. It’s mostly flat and downhill from here to the finish and I started to pick up the pace again. There were also a bunch of blow up decorations and lights through here.

Photo: Jay Proffitt

Barry and I cruised through the finish line in 53 minutes and change. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that ended up being a 3 minute course PR for me, which is nice! Neither of us placed in our age group, but I wanted to show the age group medals for this year – the gargoyles were such a neat design!

From there, we wandered over to the food area. I wasn’t expecting them to have post-race food, but they did! It was the typical yummy, post-Mountain Junkies race fare: crackers, veggies, hummus, and homemade cookies and pumpkin bread. They also had rice krispies treats and candy corn. Barry and I each got a plate and enjoyed the treats – I especially loved the pumpkin bread (a Mountain Junkies staple) and the peanut butter rice krispie treat. And with that, another fun year at the Into the Darkness night trail race was in the books.

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