I asked a co-worker about the St. Paul Trail Half Marathon earlier this year; she said it was fun and I should try it. Since she’s the most experienced trail runner of the store I thought well yeah, I should give it a try! Fast forward a few months and a series of four ‘Bluff Tuff’ runs popped up in my Facebook newsfeed–a weekly series of free training runs led by Endurance United and sponsored by Saucony (hey there old shoe friend, Saucony Peregrine) and Fleet Feet Marathon Sports (hey there oldest running specialty shop in the Twin Cities).
Going into the training series I had my sights set on the full marathon. And then I ran parts of the course a couple times and realized the smart call was to run the half–still more than a handful of miles, but exponentially less pain with moderate preparation.
On a rainy Saturday August morning, I hung out inside the Battle Creek Recreational Center after picking up my hand-colored bib (each of the 3 races had a different color bib) and cool race t-shirt. I debated for 45 minutes whether or not to wear my waist pack in order to carry along a bottle of coconut water/lemon juice and a few Honey Stinger gels. Fortunately I realized before lining up at the start line that an approximately two-hour race in not-t00-warm, rainy weather on a course with a few aid stations meant no need for weighing myself down with a water bottle (no matter how good that lemony coconut water would’ve tasted). I must’ve also sensed that my shorts selection for this particularly sopping wet race day was enough added weight, as they seemed to somehow absorb a little too much water for a moisture-wicking material… (whoops, old shorts!).
Back to the course… The best part of the entire race! Trails! Rain! Mud! A little pavement, single-track, plenty of trees, grass, STAIRS… even the half had it all.
To get an idea of just how muddy the woods were, check out this short Facebook video clip posted by one of the race organizers. Trees (to keep balanced) on the down hills and grass (for hand traction) on the up hills helped, a lot.
The course was well-marked, especially considering all 3 races (10K, 1/2 marathon, full marathon) overlapped at some point(s) along the course. As a half-marathoner, I thought the aid stations were SUPER well-stocked, but I imagine the candies, chips, fruit, etc. were there for the marathoners;)
I was lucky enough to have a personal cheer crew of one–wife extraordinaire–who found me at several spots along the way and even took a few quick videos of me smiling and waving…because I love running just that much!
All in all, the trail 1/2 was an incredibly fun mix of running terrain. Plus, the finish chute ended at a great brewery (Flat Earth Brewing) in St. Paul, where each runner received one free beer (or soda).
40-second video of the 2016 St. Paul Trail Half Marathon
- Ice water with Nuun
- Hardboiled egg
- 2x sourdough toast, one with avocado, the other with butter
- Gatorade at the 1st aid station
- 2x Honey Stinger Gel Gold + water at two other aid stations
Running shoe of choice: Altra Lone Peak 2.5
I’ve since (one week later) run my high school cross country alumni race! Recap on the way…