[image credit Gary...more on this photo later]
On Sunday I did something I've never done: deliberately registered for and ran a 25K trail race instead of the 50K, in recognition of the fact that my training was insufficient to comfortably finish the 50K.
In other words, where formerly I would have programmed for success and run "up" instead of running "down," I opted for the common sense version.
The event was a series of simultaneous trails runs/walks (50K, 25K and 15K) at Pine Grove Furnace State Park in south-central PA, called the Ironmaster's Challenge. See, this area was a major iron-making site in America's early days, triggered by a fortuitous combination of iron-bearing ore and plenty of trees for charcoal-making.
I must say that this race was great--I loved it and definitely will come back. Lots of good people, superior post-race food and drink, and a fantastic location. My advice for anyone in driving range: DO THIS RACE NEXT YEAR!
My general goal was simply to spend a pleasant morning running for about 4 hours in the woods. Goal accomplished. However...along the way--either by poor signage, or tampered-with signage, or runner error--the group of about 20 runners of whom I was a part, went off course on the 25K race. We kept seeing 15K and 50K signage but none for our race, the 25K. I've been "lost" on a trail before, but this was my first instance of being off-course and being so far past the last known point that it was smarter to proceed than to backtrack. Net effect was a loss of perhaps 1K.
I'm eagerly awaiting the results and any explanation from the RD. But since I knew I was off course and probably ran short, I didn't even bother with checking the results board since I knew my time was tainted.
Which brings me to the photo above: this was taken along PA Rt 233 on the way to the race. Little did I know how prophetic it would be, imagining that the 3 "babes in the woods" were actually rookie Ultrarunners. Turns out the real story was infinitely more tragic: three murdered children 80 years ago. Link here.