Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Otter Creek Trail Marathon

Otter Creek Trail Marathon

Brandenburg, Kentucky

Dec 10th, 2006

Steve Bremner

Marathon State 43, total marathons 81

This is the first time I’ve run marathons in back to back weekends. Prior to this the closest time in between marathons has been two weeks. Recovery from trail marathons is almost instantaneous so I didn’t have much apprehension running this race one week after the Tecumseh Trail Marathon in Indiana on December 2nd. Indeed, I didn’t even find out about this race until about three days before Tecumseh, whereupon I quickly bought a plane ticket and signed up for the race since KY was a needed state in my 50-state quest and nowadays I always run trail marathons when given the choice.

I flew in to Louisville on Saturday, picked up a rental (First time driving a PT Cruiser), and cruised on down to my reservation on Fort Knox (45 minute drive). After checking in I headed on out to the commissary where I found some Amy’s organic TV dinners for the micro and a banana for the morning. Conveniently Fort Knox is right next to Otter Creek Park, so the next morning I only had a 15 minute drive to the race. As an Air Force retiree, anytime I can stay on a military installation I do so. They are as clean and quiet as any Hilton and the price is right—Fort Knox was $44/nt.

Race start was a tad on the cold side (30F), but after a couple miles I was glad I was wearing just a tech top and shorts. We started off with a 2.2 mile loop, then commenced with the first of three 8-mile loops. Though I started off in an easy lope, no one wanted to run with me so right away I opened up a 100 yard lead. At the 2.2 mile point I couldn’t see anyone behind me. Could this be the makings of a runaway race?

It didn’t take long before the slower of the 8 milers and the 16 mile racers started coming back. Though I would yell “on your left” as I passed there was contact on occasion with the IPoders. I can’t understand why people listen to music when they run. It would drive me crazy. There is enough to keep track of out there in the wilderness.

I would get to know this 8-mile loop intimately over the next three hours, but the first time through was spectacular. Rolling terrain through deciduous forest over leaf-covered single track trail, followed by a precipitous drop to Otter Creek which we followed for some time before an aide station about halfway through the loop. Then we climbed up to a bluff where we had a scenic overlook of the Ohio River which forms the border between Indiana and Kentucky. The broad bends of the river with farmland and forest were a welcome sight on the next two times around the loop. From there we had a bit more climbing before it mostly leveled off moving to the end of the loop. A Russian guy caught up to me at this point, 10.2 miles into the race and we ran together for about 5 miles after which he slowly left me in his wake. A couple miles later another guy passed me, but for the last ten or so miles I ran alone, occasionally passing the odd 16-mile racers and towards the end probably lapping some marathoners. I ran the first 8-mile lap in an hour, second in 1:05, and third in 1:16, for a total time of 3:39, third place overall. Winning time was 3:32, 2nd place was 3:35. At least I didn't get "chicked".

Little did I know that I should have held some in reserve for my airport connection in Chicago. They had delayed our flight due to a back up of planes in the air over Chicago and by the time I got off the plane and was in the terminal it was 7:33 PM. My flight to COS was on time and leaving at 7:50. That meant I had 7 minutes to make it from terminal 1 to terminal 3 – normally a 20-minute walk or more. With a heavy pack I did my best to simulate a jog arriving at the gate at 7:42. Flight closed, door locked, no sympathy. I was forced to spend the night in Chicago.

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