The race started at 10 a.m. to allow for day of packet pick-up, which I loved. We received our "finisher" shirt at packet pick-up and would get a pint glass with the medal at the finish.
For most of the race, the nearest runner was at least 1/4 mile behind and in front of me (big difference from the Disney races in January) so I had plenty of time to think and enjoy the remote setting. Due to the harsh winter, ice was still present on most of the ponds and lakes.
AdventureMax is known for their unique races and this race was described as a trail run. I have only completed one other trail race and today's race took that description to an entirely new level. There was a point, that seemed like an eternity but may have only been 3/4 of a mile, where you were literally running through the woods on a trail that was nearly invisible because it was covered in leaves. Had it not been for the bright orange cones placed along the route, I would still be wandering in those woods. Luckily I also do a lot of exercises on bosu balls that require my muscles and joints to work at stabilizing the rest of my body. I think that saved me from twisted or broken ankles as I stepped on hidden rocks and sticks. It was so quiet in the woods, that I could hear what sounded like shot guns in the distance. There was a volunteer stationed where you transition back to the roads after the woods and our conversation went like this:
Me: Is it some kind of shot gun season this weekend, because I can hear them going off?
Volunteer: Oh that's off in the distance. I wouldn't worry.
This was not that comforting considering that I was dressed head to toe in black and with my size and stature, I am sure I could easily be mistaken for a bear by hunters.
After I exited the woods I descended another hill only to see another steep hill in front of me. The hills on this course were constant. The hills in the Ozark area of Missouri are not like the hills in St. Charles and St. Louis that just slope down towards the rivers. When you stand, your foot is perpendicular to your shin creating a 90 degree (right) angle. Obviously your feet and shins are not at this angle when you run but the hills on this course were so steep and constant that my feet and shins seemed to stay at an angle anywhere between 30 and 60 degrees. After I exited the woods I decided that this was the most challenging half marathon I had ever run. My glutes and quads were screaming but I had already seen the medal before I started and I wanted it, so I still managed to sprint to the finish line.