Not only did I run my first trail race today, I saved a life. The same type of turtle pictured above was crossing the street on the way into the US National Whitewater Center. Traffic was fairly heavy at 7:30am on a Saturday because of the race. The turtle's head, legs and arms were completely withdrawn into its shell so it really looked like a rock in the road. I passed it at first, then realized what it was. I hesitated, then thought of my boys and how we saved another turtle once while driving to the park and how they still talk about the experience. I did a U-turn, scooped up the turtle and placed him in the grass, far from the road. Hopefully, he was able to get his bearings after that frightening experience.
Back to the race - so different than the road races I have been running. Less people running, but most participants were athletic. On a road race, there may be people who will walk and run the race. This was strictly a running race. Luckily, before the race started, a man passed on some wisdom he learned on his first race - don't go to the front of the line. Since it is narrow and hard to pass, you have to keep a much faster pace with the leaders and you will wear out quickly. I heeded his warning and was one of the last to hit the trail.
Another thing that surprised me, but made sense after I saw the results, was that the race began about 1/2 mile before the Start Line (and Chip Time) so that the runners had a chance to thin out before the narrow trail began. Even with the 1/2 mile lag, a bottleneck formed and we were all forced to walk for several minutes. About 85% of the trail was super narrow and passing another runner was not safe. At times, people did stop to walk and if passing, I learned the common phrase was to say "passing on the left."
Overall, I loved the experience. Running in the shade of trees overlooking a river was amazing. Watching for differences in the terrain made it interesting. As long as I can find the time and a running partner (safety first when running in the woods), I will add running on the trails to my workout schedule.