This race presents the best of what trail running can offer – a beautiful course, well-stocked aid stations, friendly atmosphere and comeraderie among the 350 or so runners and the many volunteers, and a post-race picnic featuring bar-b-que and vegetarian chili.
All that was missing was a race shirt and a finishers medal, but that didn’t seem to matter to any of the entrants, each of whom paid only $10 (club members) or $20 (non-members) to participate, payable in cash on race day. In an age of entry fees toping $100 and even $200, this home-style race is a great bargain.
Not that the 2012 race, help on March 3d, was without its problems. Pre-race storms blew through, thankfully ending just as the race was starting, but leaving much of the course a muddy slog. This was a spossible improvement over past years, though, when parts of the course were iced over. None of these problems could be blamed on the race director, though. As my son’s pre-school teacher used to tell her class, “you get what you get and you don’t get uspet.”
The course itself was another matter. It was mismeasured – the marathon was estimated to be about 30 miles, while the 50K was about 34 miles. No wonder most runners ended up opting for the 50K; for just a few miles more, it’s nicer to have another ultra notched on one’s belt. But you’d be mistaken if you thought that any runners were angry about the mismeasurement; the website clearly states the problem, so everyone is forewarned.
The race runs point-to-point along the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail, starting out in Damascus, Maryland, end ending up in Seneca, near the Seneca Lock historic site on the C&O Canal National Park. Along the way there is a creek-crossing, and a loop of a beautiful lake.
As with many home-town races, many of the race participants seemed to already know each other, and many of them were repeat race veterans. But everyone seemed friendly and welcoming, even to a newcomer like me.
All in all, for any first-timers our there, this race is a great way to discover ultramarathoning!