Race Report: 2013 Rock Cut Coyote Howl 10k
I very much like to run ultras. If I ever had to give that experience a one word description, the word ‘fun’ would not necessarily be my first pick. Something more like satisfying, or accomplishment.
When I reflect back on this 10k out in the middle of Illinois, the word ‘fun’ immediately jumps to the top of the list.
Take 180 people, cram them onto a singletrack trail in the deep woods, and then set them loose to see who can make it back first. Oh, and make sure it is after dark.
See? That’s fun!
The race was one lap around a state park on equal parts rough/twisty/hilly/rocky/rooty trail, and fast straightaways.
I actually did this same event two years ago, when I was on another business trip. I’m glad it lined up with another trip this year!
This Google Earth shot shows the path into the trees from a road crossing. It was like a tunnel at times, and I was having to duck branches a lot in the first couple of miles.
Trying to run at full speed on that terrain and in those conditions was stressful, but amazing all at once. Your senses were being pushed to the absolute max the whole time, while the rest of your body tried to keep the speed up.
I surprised myself with a decent race. A little slower than the last time I was here, but a lot better than I was expecting. Last time it was pretty much a time trial for me as I ran solo for the last 2/3 of the race.
This time I was fighting for positions every step of the way. I was in around 20th place after the first mile. That start was intense! It was all-out effort staring at the heels of the person in front of you illuminated by the spot of light from your headlamp.
I struggled to hold pace with those around me on the flat straight sections, but once we hit the technical stuff in the woods with the climbs I started moving up through the field. I would gradually reel someone in, and then sit on their shoulder for a second until finding my chance to make a clean break.
About a mile from the finish, there were four of us running shoulder-to-shoulder up this steep climb on a trail that was more suited for two people. I was the first one to back off slightly, but held on over the top and then accellerated past them all. Shake and bake, baby!
I hit the line in 8th place overall and 3rd in my age group. Very happy with the night, and as a bonus got to do it all with my buddy Stu – who had a great race as well.
We proceeded to consume vast amounts of Chicago-style pizza and more than a few Cokes. Good times!