This has been a wild last few weeks. Every time I sit down to recap my race experience at the Burning River 100M relay, something happens. First it was preparing for our third annual cross country camp. Then my kids arrived home from summer camp. Now it’s just been getting into the swing of things with school, sports practices, work, and volunteer duties. Despite it all, the Burning River recap is finally here!
This post is sponsored by adidas. I receive product as a partner with the adidas blogger community. All content and opinions are my own.
Let me start by acknowledging I run races very infrequently these days. And I truly race even less. As a two-sport head coach with two kids with their own activities, it’s difficult to train with any sort of goal in mind. And so I usually don’t. I run and I lift, yes. But participate in organized events, not usually. I suppose one of the catalysts with my lack of participation in said events was the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic. I digress.
Onto Burning River. This was my third time running this race and this year I was leg 3 which was, interesting… So far not my favorite leg — not because of the terrain or the trail, but because logistically speaking, I had no idea how to fuel. I didn’t start running until about 1:30pm and I spent most of the morning tracking my teammates and figuring out when to leave my house to arrive on time for the exchange. I couldn’t figure out the timing for food, and since I don’t typically run in the afternoon, and certainly not anything longer than 4 miles, I was a bit out of sorts.
The night before and the morning of the race was very stormy, and it continued storming for a good part of the morning. My running partner and I got lucky that it was not raining during our leg. The rain started up again within minutes of us finishing. I felt awful for the 100M and 50M runners who were starting such a long race totally soaked.
The first half of my leg was nothing but mud. And it wasn’t even the thick peanut butter mud most of us locals think of on Wetmore (fitting name, isn’t it?). The mud was thick, indeed. But it was so slick. Like ice skating slick. For miles and miles.
Just when it was runnable, it was not. There were several miles of 17-min or slower paces for my running partner and me. It was both comical and humbling. I imagined one of us going down in slow motion and re-emerging as Swamp Thing. (That didn’t happen.)
We finally made it to an aid station with most of the mud behind us. But then came the hills of Salt Run and Cross Country trails. The trails were well-drained but the hills in this section are relentless. They will spike your heart rate almost as high as the elevation graph. And the downhills, which are my favorite, aren’t any easier due to the extreme grade. The trails are runnable, yes, but the hills are humbling.
We finally cleared all the mud and all the hills and could hear the cheering at the aid station and relay exchange point. We found our runners, took a selfie, and off they went onto their own adventure for Burning River leg 4!
This Burning River experience was arguably the hardest one I’ve done yet. The first two were challenging and the distance was farther, but the mud really takes the cake in levels of difficulty for me. I’m admittedly a much more cautious runner in mud simply due to my IT band injury history. The last thing I wanted to do was aggravate the bands and cause a flair up during a race. But even so, I couldn’t have run in that mud even if I wanted to. I tried! It just didn’t work.
I loved my teammates this year. I only know a handful of them in real life, but what a great group of ladies. It was really fun tracking everyone on race day through group photos, texts, and the tracking app.
I spent the rest of the evening tracking my team and recovering like I had just run a marathon. For elapsed time sake, I might as well have. But in reality, I only ran 14 miles. Regardless, I spent the evening refueling and hanging out in my new Burning River hoodie and sweatpants.
For this training cycle, I relied heavily on training and recovery gear from adidas. I’ve found the sports bras to be the most comfortable ones I’ve purchased in a long time. They’re snug but not too tight. And ladies, the pads are not removable! (Finally, a company listened!) In my downtime (aka immediately after a run), I typically gravitate toward hoodies and sweatpants, which was the theme throughout Burning River training.
Burning River relay is one of my favorite races of the year. It’s such a fun experience and the trails are really great (aside from all the mud this year, of course). If you’re looking for a great 100 miler, 50 miler, marathon, or relay on trails, it’s definitely worth taking a peek at Burning River. 5 stars, highly recommend!
Check out my Burning River experience from 2019!
What is your favorite race distance? Do you prefer trails or road?