Seneca Creek, XTERRA Atlantic, Race 2

May 21, 2013

Sometimes you gotta go beyond the pavement.
You gotta go deep, way on back
Cross a few creeks and a couple little shacks
You gotta get lost way on out
Crickets and frogs, yeah you’re getting close now.
Banjo, Rascal Flatts

The sun flared overhead as a last winter chill grasped at the early April morning air. My sneakers crackled over rocks and dirt while I ran a light warmup. With the first XTERRA Atlantic Series race caked in dirt under my laces, this was sure to be another fun challenge.

Volunteers manned the registration area and prepared the finish line as the morning activities approached. There would be a 10k and 5k traversing the wooded area of Seneca Creek Park in Gaithersburg, Maryland. I was ready to attack the longer distance. Though wary of my pained effort in the previous race, I was confident that my legs were better prepared and that the course terrain would be more forgiving.

Clopper Lake, Gaithersburg, MD

Clopper Lake, Seneca Creek Park, Gaithersburg, MD

We had just under a half mile on asphalt to start the race—led by the affable race director Jefferson on his bike—before entering the woods where “The Blair Witch Project” was filmed. After a fast first mile wrapped up I settled in to a fast, but more controlled pace. The trail crackled as the pack thinned to a trickle. At some point I lost track of how many people were in front of me, and was not thinking of anyone behind either. I was just running.

Though my pace slowed a bit through those intermediate miles, I was really enjoying the run and its surroundings. The underfoot was challenging enough to keep me paying attention, but not distracting enough to detract from the whole experience. Once again, the course was marked flawlessly, a worry I continued to harbor.

Seneca Creek woods - beware the Blair Witch!

Seneca Creek woods – beware the Blair Witch!

What I did appreciate was that this felt more like a race. Unlike my previous trail effort, I managed to at least feel like I was relatively close to the chase pack. Knowing full well the leaders were way ahead, and I was not going to be catching anyone in front of me either, I at least sensed them in front of me. With a little under two miles left I was overtaken by one runner, who I had been hearing at my heels for some time. Most races I get to a point where I try to mentally decide that nobody else is going to pass me. This guy was that point.

The final stretch was fun because it joined up with the 5k route. Weaving around the other runners, exchanging pleasantries, and winding around Clopper Lake was a great way to round up the race. The final straightaway included a quick log staircase and the bright green-and-white Adventure Geek Productions archway. My favorite part, however, was the country music blasting as I crossed in seventh place overall. I had a great time hanging around the finish area and cheering for all the competitors, 191 from both races.

Seneca Creek Finish Line Party

Seneca Creek Finish Line Party

My overall time clocked in at 41:16,a 6:39 pace for the 10k. Very pleased with a much improved effort from the season’s first trail race, but still looking to improve consistency and closing out races. Next up: the third race in the XTERRA Atlantic Series travels back to Delaware on Saturday, May 25. Hope to see you out there!

Bonus: Here is a Seneca Creek race preview that I was fortunate enough to help film. That’s me in the white shirt and bright neon green Brooks Pure Cadence kicks. Enjoy!



  1. Look at you speedy. Congrats on your race! There’s no way I could do a trail race, I’m way too accident prone. Good luck on Saturday 🙂

    • Thanks, Natalie! I thought I was too clumsy for trail racing, but I tried running them first and then got excited about racing a more technical one. Plenty of trail runs that are “smoother” to start out as a beginner effort. Don’t know until you try!

  2. What a beautiful trail. Enjoyed reading this, I like your writing style.

  3. Hi! I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Liebster Award!
    To view your award and the rules for accepting your nomination, please visit my nomination post!

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