Sunday, May 10, 2009

Greenland Trail 50k (& 25k)

It felt good to stretch my legs on the first Colorado trail race I've run since moving back to my home state last year. The 25k at the Greenland Open Space on Saturday was not the most scenic race I've ever run, but early in the summer it represented a great opportunity to get out onto some dry trails and run alongside other trail runners.

The weather was sunny and dry -- and very, very windy! The wind was the most challenging part of the race. I actually kept my jacket on for the whole race because of the wind's icy bite.

The course begins on the Old Territorial Road, a wide trail that parallels an active railroad line. A few trains going by added a nice distraction as we got our legs pumping. The wide trail allowed for runners to distribute themselves along the course and stick to their preferred pace: 8-milers sprinting, 50k-ers settling into a carefully-measured trot, and 25k-ers somewhere in between. The first 3 1/2 miles are a very gradual uphill rise, but feel fairly flat. This part of the trail is mostly grassland, with few trees. Mountain views emerge toward the south and west.

At around mile 3.5, the course turns left onto the Kipps Loop and climbs fairly consistently for the next mile and a half. The summit (approx. 7,400 feet elevation) is at mile 5. While this hill on the Kipps Loop is fairly steep, the wooded hill makes up for it; I saw a lot of birds and a few deer in this stretch of the race.

Three straight miles of downhill running follow the summit, at which point the 25k and 50k runners turn around and do the loop again, while the 8-milers race to the finish. After this second loop, the 25k-ers finish, and the 50k-ers do the loop a total of four times. I did the 25k on Saturday, and was happy to be done with the course after two loops. It's not that the course is particularly challenging -- I believe, in fact, that it could be a nice first ultra for someone attempting 50k for the first time -- but I'm someone who runs trails to "get away," to feel like I'm discovering a wild place, and this course just didn't do it for me.

The race was well organized and it was fun to meet trail runners from a variety of Colorado locales, but having run at Greenland once, I doubt I'll be a repeat runner.

See you on the trail!
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