This past Saturday I ran the Mill Mountain Mayhem 10K, which was my fifth and final race of the RNUTS series (of a possible seven). I will be at the anchor event, Conquer the Cove 25K and Marathon, at the end of May manning the final water stop. But this one wrapped up my RNUTS series racing for 2022. And we finally had some gorgeous weather, with sunshine and temperatures in the 40’s!
Barry and I arrived at the race about 45 minutes before the start, got our packets and prepared to run. I also met up with Lauren, and I laughed when I saw we had dressed the same.
At this race, the staging area is about half a mile from the actual start. After a couple of trips to the porta johns, Lauren, Barry, and I decided to make our way up to Fishburn Parkway for the 9 AM start.
The race started just after 9 AM and we were off and running, making our way up Fishburn Parkway. This is also the road that you climb Mill Mountain on during the Blue Ridge Marathon races. For this race, we spent the first mile going up Fishburn, with a little over 300 feet of gain. I ran the first three tenths of the race and then alternated 50 steps walking, 100 steps running until I got through the first mile.
At mile 1, we turned onto the Monument Trail. This trail is more runnable in terms of elevation, but I always forget about the really rocky sections. Overall, I’d estimate that this race is about 75% trail and most of that trail is pretty rocky.
Mile 2 clicked by and around mile 2.5 we turned onto the old road up Mill Mountain. This road climb is shorter than the first, but it is steeper. I again alternated running and walking, generally sticking to 30 steps walking and 50 steps running.
Around mile 3, we got off of the road and onto Big Sunny Trail. A little while later, we passed by the one water stop on the course. I drank some scratch before continuing on my way up the Ridgeline Trail. From here, we continued climbing past the Mill Mountain Zoo and up to the Mill Mountain Star at the top.
After the Star, it’s essentially all downhill on the Star Trail. But the trick with this race is that most of Star Trail is super rocky on the way down, so you don’t get to bomb down the trail (unless you’re the 10 year old that blew past me – but Lauren pointed out that kids have a lower center of gravity).
My quads felt tired from having to brake to control my speed and navigate the rocks while running a sharp downhill. Just before mile 6, we went down some steps, crossed back over Fishburn Parkway, and then got back onto the trail towards the finish. From here, the trail is smoother and I was able to pick it up a bit.
I finished the race in 1:31 and change. This was the third time I have run the race. My first time, I finished in 1:44 and in 2019 when I was in good trail shape I finished in 1:24. So I was really happy with landing right in the middle of those two times on Saturday.
My next race on the schedule is the Dam Yeti 55K in early June. Between now and then I’m looking forward to lots of training, a few Trail Sisters events with our local Blue Ridge group, and some race volunteering.