What a fun race! It's been a long time since I ran a course like this one. Or, at least, a long time since I ran such a course fast. At the gun, a young guy went out in front and I settled into a group of four. The other three seemed pretty young and I assumed that they would burn out. The first mile or so was on a regular trail, so it I tried to concentrate on running as easily as possible. Then we turned onto some pretty technical terrain. On a steep downhill, our little group broke up. One of the guys really knew how to run the downhills and must have gapped me by 20-30 yards.
It seemed like the race was suddenly on. For a short while, three of us got back together before we hit the first of two big hills. On the first one, I felt like I was a little stronger than the others, but didn't push the pace, mostly because of the downhill on the other side. The last hill on the loop was long and steep and I figured this was my chance to take off. The two guys, who were teammates, stayed just 50 yards behind me for a long time, which was unnerving but, finally, they fell back. The last two miles, I was all on my own, with only the front guy ahead. It turned out that he was starting to fade a little, too. I wasn't close enough to catch him, although he looked back nervously several times.
The course was what made this race cool. A few sections were completely off-trail with just some white banners showing the way through the woods. There was even a pile of fallen logs we had to jump/climb over. On the first lap (of two), the trails were okay but on the second lap, the mud was getting deep. It was the kind that could easily have sucked off a shoe. Speaking of shoes, most of the front guys wore spikes, but I opted for my Salomon shoes I bought in the Alps this summer. They were probably a little heavy but had decent traction.
My second place gave me 6 points toward the overall series. There are three more races in the series, followed by the season finale, which is actually held on trails not too far from where we live. All the races are within an hours drive. It's definitely something to look forward to this winter.
The Girl's race was less than perfect. Her first loop, she was close to the eventual women's winner, our teammate Mette. But then her GI virus acted up and she had to produce some quick diarrhea. Twice. She still took second but wasn't happy with the race. There were very few women running, maybe because the women tended to run the short course. Her last three races have been disappointing and her training isn't going well. I think it's the stress of that PhD project, and I think she would agree.
The race was followed by showers and a dinner at a decent Indian restaurant in Copenhagen. The dinner was followed by more diarrhea, but that's another story.