I registered for XC Revolution 2007 hoping for a rugged, muddy, laughter-filled start for the new year, and I was not disappointed.
Race Director Josh Spiker mapped out a fun, challenging 4k loop around the Olivas Park Golf Course, near Olivas Adobe Historical Park. A 4k race took place at 9 a.m., and the 12k race (three loops) started at 9:30.
At the clang of the cow bell, following British cross-country tradition, we rocketed off the start line, striding past bulldozers and other earth-moving equipment (the golf course is undergoing some significant renovations). It was not long before we encountered a swamp (complete with fat brown cattails!) No choice but to run straight through it. Squish, squish!
Already laughing pretty hard at this point, I continued along the course, which followed gentle hills and, at times, the golf cart path. Other obstacles awaited: three or four scrambles up sandy hills (just try to make any forward progress in these sand traps!) as well as some romps through muddy, reedy lowlands. Cattails, stiff grass, branches, and tall reeds thwacked against my arms and legs as I ran through the narrow passages, but it was all part of the adventure.
The first loop was fun, and it only got better with the second and third pass. I'm accustomed to running longer courses, and was surprised at how tired I became on this 12k course: you use a lot more energy when you're leaping over logs, struggling through sand, and dodging branches than you do just running down a trail. Exciting as the course was, I was delighted to see the finish line in the distance as I crested the final hill on the last pass.
Official results haven't been posted yet, but I finished around 1:14 -- much speedier than I was expecting, given the terrain. But on a course like this, finishing times are almost beside the point. Around the snack table after the race, I heard a number of runners giving our race director a hard time. "That was a nasty trick!" I heard one runner say as he ribbed Josh about the course, but his wide grin betrayed the fact that he'd loved the whole experience.
Walking back to the car with my race crew, Elliott and Christi I couldn't stop saying, "That was so much fun!" Which is why, if the Olivas Park Golf Course is still a torn-up mess next January, you'll know where to find this runner.
Thank you, Josh Spiker, for putting on such a great race!
See you on the trail!