Sunday September 23rd the 4th annual Rock Cut HOBO 50k and 25k race was held on the trails of Rock Cut State Park near Rockford IL. Last year I signed up for the 25k as my first race in over 6 years. This year I signed up for the 25k again. Unlike last year I have done a lot more training but like last year I am still slow but getting my monies worth on courses with time spent on the trails.
Unlike last year the conditions were dry and warm. Last year it rained for about 24 hours the day before and even race morning on the drive north. At least last year's it was normal end of September temperatures, this year it was warmer than normal.
I arrived early and got parked up. Picked up my race goody bag which included a pair of cool HOBO socks and a Rock Cut bandanna and some sponsor items including items from Heed, Trail Runner magazine and the good people of Zombie Runners. The T shirt for this event has to be earned by finishing the race you signed up for.
The 50k starts at 8am with around 80 people but before the start I spoke to a number of friends - Scott and Caryn, Norm, Gayle, Dave, Chris, Marla, RD Larry. The horn went off bang on time and the 50k runners crossed a short section of picnic grass and turned down the trail to disappear from view. I now had an hour to wait for the 25k start. ChiA Gayle was out for a pre run on the roads around Rock Cut, think she did 7 or 8 miles. I changed into my trail shoes and removed my cotton shirt that had the awesome Brooks Clinton Lake 30 shirt underneath, grabbed my favourite running cap and strapped on my Camelbak pack that was full of water plus gels, shot blocks and Succeed caps. I was ready to run.
RD Larry said some words and we where off to follow in the foot steps of the 50k folks. Sure some of the faster 25k runners saw some of the slower 50k runners but doubt they saw the faster 50k runners like I would :-) The HOBO course is 25k (15.5 miles) of trails, mainly wider type trails but also with some great single track mountain bike trails and a little service roads plus one wide and ankle deep cold stream crossing. There was aid stations every few miles but I was a tad upset when I found no energy drink and for an ultra race going on very little food. Still there was plenty of water on my loop and has I carried a few packs of gel and Clif Blocks so I was OK. I also carried and used each hour Succeed! tabs. I walked some sections of the course but ran a lot more than last year. The single track was great and for some reason I always feel at home running on single track. Some of it was very narily with plenty of roots exposed but luckily I never fell has I had done the weekend before at Knoch Knolls. Not sure where it was but at some point Joel Lammers past me on his way to winning the 50k. About 10 others passed me including Anne and Christine who would place 1-2 in the women. Last year tons of folks passed me and a few did 50k quicker than my 25k. This year only Joel would do 50k faster than my 25k because I knocked 40 minutes off my 2006 time and almost broke 4 hours. Still slow but I was well chuffed with my time although know I can go faster, and well. I crossed the finish with everyone cheering me in and one of the volunteers passing me a bright orange long sleeve tech shirt - the one you had to earn to get. At the end Larry provides a great HOBO stew both with and without meat from all the donated veggies and beans the runners give race morning.
I sat there enjoying my veggie stew along with soda and water plus some great cookies watching the runners mainly in the 50k finish. Clinton Lake RD Chris finished and joined me at the dining table and then Marla from the CU-Buffalo (Champaign) list joined us.
HOBO is a great race on a great course with great people and draws some great Midwest runners. The goody bags and race Ts are great. If Larry can improve the aid station he'll have one of the best mid west races which is tough when the mid west now has so many great races. Next year HOBO (along with Clinton Lake, McNaughton and Farmdale) will be part of an Illinois Ultra Grand Slam created by Chris from Clinton Lake 30.