Ghost Town Trail Challenge 25k 2016

Saturday June 18 was my first 25k race, and I have to say it was pretty awesome (even though this blog post has been a long way coming)! The course was great, the volunteers were amazing, and I had such a blast. I think there’s just a great feeling when it comes to trail races, and it was so laid-back but well-run that I felt like I was just out for a relaxing jog with friends. I didn’t exactly ‘race’ because I used it as my long run for the weekend, and that definitely showed in my time. I officially finished in 3:21:51, but I’m getting ahead of myself!

The morning started quite early for me, rolling out of bed at quarter til 5. I did my usual morning routine, took all my medications a bit early, and woke my mom up so she could do my usual long-run ponytail braid. I left the house by about twenty after 5, which is definitely early for me. But I was raring to go! I drove the 35-ish minutes to Ebensburg, and it was so easy to find the start location.

I picked up my bag, which went really smoothly – until I realized my bag didn’t have a t-shirt. I went back, the race director (herself!) apologized and looked for another. When she only came up with a large, she gave it to me and took down my name to send out a small later! How awesome is that!!

It was a little bit of waiting around, but that was fine by me. I had time to get my Vaseline set up, drink some more water, and just relax. When it was time to get on the 13k/25k shuttle, I took off my long-sleeve shirt and left it in the car. I was left with just my tank top, and it was still a little chilly. But I got onto the bus, and that seemed to be a little bit warmer. The bus was basically full, and we were all pretty chatty. I had a seat to myself for a while, but there were so many people that I had to wind up sharing with a nice guy. Hi nice guy!

We dropped off the 13k runners in Nanty-Glo, then took some pretty windy back roads to get to the Wehrum trail head. I had never been on that part of the trail before, so it was all new and exciting! We got dropped off about fifteen minutes before the 7:30 scheduled start, so that was nice, as we didn’t freeze. There were some nice patches of warmth in the sunshine, so I took full advantage of those. It was a pretty cool race start, since there were people at the 50k, the 25k, the 13k, and the finish line who had all synced their watches, so we all started promptly at 7:30.

25k start

I started out pretty strong (for me) in the first few miles, coming in anywhere between 10:30 and 12:00. I just enjoyed the scenery, since it was an unfamiliar part of the trail for me, and I absolutely loved it. I had one little snafu where I was confused as to what was the trail and what was an overgrown driveway, so I kind of stood around and waited until the lady behind me passed the overgrown driveway. Phew! It added a little bit of time, but I was using this race as my weekend long run anyway.

Around mile 6, the wheels started to come off because my stomach rebelled. I’ve never had such a bad stomachache during a race, and I honestly felt like crying. I slowed to a walk, and I did a terrible shuffling run whenever I could. I eventually reached Nanty-Glo, which was like my oasis in a desert of pain. There was a real bathroom that I could use, and there were also some really awesome snacks. I think had I been doing the 50k, I really would have taken advantage of the cooked potatoes, but I figured they would sit too heavily in my stomach to bear the last bit of the race.

After Nanty-Glo, it got pretty sunny and hot. I was so glad that I had chosen to wear my tank top, since it really got warm and I was sweating like crazy. I was so glad for the last aid station, since I stopped and talked to the volunteer there for a few minutes. I had a few cups of water and enjoyed the shade, and she wished me luck on the last 3.5 miles of the course.

And boy, did I need good luck for those last few miles.

After the last aid station, it felt like the whole course was at a pretty intense angle almost the whole way to the finish. It was an uphill slog for the last few miles that were getting pretty hot – god bless the 50k runners, because I was choking in the humidity by the time I was finishing the 25k. I kept chasing two women who were ahead of me for those last few miles, and I eventually passed one of them. I hung behind the other woman the whole way to the finish.

I was so excited to get my medal and pint glass at the end of the race, and they were both such high-quality! I had some grapes and pretzels and water to finish up the race, then headed to my car and made my way home. I also stopped at Sheetz and got my favorite post-race food, mac and cheese bites. So delicious!

Overall, I loved the race. It had such a small and cozy feel, and everyone was so excited to be there. Even though I was by myself a lot, I still used my headphones and listened to some podcasts. It was really relaxing, and I can’t wait to come back next year!

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