2014 XTERRA Atlantic Series, Part 1

November 11, 2014

The second year of the XTERRA Atlantic trail race series delivered challenging trails, competitive fields, new friends, and all-around great times. Here is my much belated round up of the four (out of five total) races in which I competed.

White Clay Creek 10k, Race 1

The first XTERRA race this season, White Clay Creek, started twice. Uncertainty and perhaps rust from a cold winter caused the entire group to change direction less than thirty seconds into the run. Like a herd of lemmings, everyone dashed down a paved service road  that turned into a dead end.

Chuckling at this unexpected warm-up, the pack jogged back toward the big inflatable arch. We were greeted by an apologetic race crew and more detailed instructions (that probably should have been obvious when we first heard them). There must be at least one social scientist somewhere wishing they could have been monitoring this comical real life test of group dynamics. What would have happened if just one guy kept running in the right direction? Why did the guy who later claimed to know this park very well not speak up during the first attempt? I digress.

After a frigid winter, my training was lacking and I wanted to go out and just have fun. Fun? So why not wake up before dawn the day after St. Patrick’s Day and run a challenging 10k trail race at White Clay Creek. Yes, we all have different definitions of the word. But you bet I enjoyed myself. It had been a while since I raced. The adrenaline was back.

The Adventure Geek finish line at White Clay Creek

The Adventure Geek finish line at White Clay Creek

One of the cool things about these XTERRA races is that even when there are small fields, it is always a group of strong runners who can really turn up the competition. I was not one of them. Placing lower than I had hoped and really struggling over the last hill to the finish, my time was neither impressive nor embarrassing. No matter. I smiled at the start of a new race season. A chance to get back on the trails with a bunch of new friends.

Seneca Creek 12k, Race 2

Where White Clay Creek was a new course, a park I had never been to, Seneca Creek provided some familiarity. The second XTERRA event featured warmer weather than the first and a bigger crowd. I arrived dangerously close to the start time and stood at the very back of the check-in line with another familiar competitor (full disclosure: he beat me at every race) from several of the 2013 races. We nervously joked for a bit as the minutes counted down.

This race covers just under a mile of paved road before curling around into the trail’s embrace. My goal was to really take it easy out front and try to run a more controlled race than I ever manage to do. The first few runners went out at a reasonable feeling pace and I hung around, winding into the trees towards the front of the group. I knew it wouldn’t last but was comfortable with the effort.

Clopper Lake, Seneca Creek Park

Clopper Lake, Seneca Creek Park

The beauty and calm of Clopper Lake couples with the fear of a potential Blair Witch sighting to make a truly enjoyable trail. Even with more people on course, I still found myself alone for stretches in the middle. That time lets me take in the surroundings and concentrate on my pace. What that really means is that my gradually slowing pace allowed me to look around at the trees. And oh, squirrel! Wait, focus. Race.

The 12k course joins up with the 5k and there is a lot of encouragement and camaraderie between everyone crunching over the rooted terrain. At two points in the later half of the race, I was heartily passed by a 16 and a 15-year-old who would go on to finish the race 3rd and 4th, respectively. Urging them on, I really started to feel older as I was happy to imagine that they have some very promising competitive scholastic years ahead of them. My day ended with a fifth overall finish and no sign of any supernatural conjurers. Great success!

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for the rest of the recap!


One comment

  1. Clipper Lake looks beautiful and a fifth place finish is quite admirable for someone so old! Ha ha

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