This weekend I ran my first Muddy Monk trail race, The Nearly Sane Trail Half Marathon on the Des Plaines River Trail in Vernon Hills, IL. www.muddymonk.com
Originally this race was to be held at Deer Grove Forest Preserver in Palatine but Cook County FP got nervous about the number of runners so the RD had to move it and Lake County stepped in. Deer Grove is a mix of limestone and single track while Des Plaines River Trail is all limestone. I had been looking forward to some single track running but I, and I think all runners, understood the change and rolled with it.
The race started behind a shopping center with around 300 starters lined up on the Muddy Monk arch. First 100 meters was grass and then another 300 meters narrow single track and a true trail runner bottleneck to thin out the group before we hit the limestone trail. The race headed north for around 2.5 miles, turned around, headed south for around 5 miles passing the staging area, then at the turnaround we followed the first loop (sans south out and back) before diving back into the single track start trail to the finish. The course had primarily tree cover but a few open areas. Aid station with water and Gatorade was fairly evenly spread along the course depending on access points. There was a few minor rollers and some bridge over the Des Plaines river but it was basically a flat course.
I've ran this trail during the Des Plaines River Trail Races (half, marathon, 50 mile) in October as I will this year so much of the course was familiar to me. http://desplainesrivertrailraces.com/
Plenty of other folks out running, hiking, biking, even horse riding. Most cheered us on especially as back packers.
So my race very briefly. I am so undertrained this year (see previous post) and this would be my longest run all year. I knew if I ran slowly and even paced with some walking breaks I'd finish. I set out with some great folks who I meet via Nandini and Amanda but we soon all separated into smaller groups. Amanda who had decided to speed walk as much as she could hiked a mile with me as part of a walk break before she rejoined up with a few others. Most of the time I ran alone enjoying the nature. As it got warmer I did have a thoughts of heading back to the finish area early but thanks to seeing Deanna who encouraged me on I successful past the turn in twice and kept going. There was honestly not many folks behind me but I was not last and completed my goal. Very brief!!
Photo courtesy of Nandini Asar
Finishing Muddy Monk was good for me and hopefully is a step towards finishing the Naperville Marathon come November. I also have DPRT in October but that will be a long supported training run with friends, or alone but seeing them over that course!!
Most Muddy Monk races are mainly dirt trails and I'll be back to run one of those at some point.
The race gave us a great green tech shirt in a Muddy Monk plastic bag that included a 13.1 sticker and a beer bottle opener. Finishers all got a green medal (or will for us backpacker as Fed Ex "lost" a box of medals but that is not an issue IMHO). After race food was hot dogs and brats which as a vegetarian I did not partake in although there was a large box of candy and some quality craft beer.
Muddy Monk race SWAG (not my race bib). Photo "borrowed" from Muddy Monk
Me finishing (thanks Muddy Monk photographer)