The Full Woodsy – Race Report

The Woodsy is a trail race series sponsored by Muscle Milk that returned to Murphy Hanrehan Park for it’s third running in September 2013. There are two available distances, the Half-Woodsy, approximately 5 miles; and the Full Woodsy, approximately 9 miles, which was the distance undertaken by the author and the subject of this report.

Logistics. The race organizer specified no parking at the race site, which is located at the trail head for the horseback/walking/running and single track mountain bike trails. Ample parking was available at a nearby high school, with bus service to and from the race site. The buses were numerous going in both directions and I didn’t have any wait inbound, and perhaps a 5 minute wait outbound. There was plenty of free water as well as energy bars and cytomax available prior to race start. Lots of porta potties as well as the trail head permanent restroom facility (rustic). Bag check wasn’t a check per se, but rather just leave your bag in a chalet at the trail head on ‘the honor system’. I had no troubles.

Awards. A long sleeved technical shirt as well as a finisher’s medal (wooden), which wasn’t specific to the distance run. The shirt was nice quality. Further awards for high place finishers.

The race & race course. In two words, extremely challenging. 100% of the course is on double track off-road trail with lots of elevation, grinding ascents, as well as numerous rapid steep ascent / steep descent elevation changes. Trail surface varied considerable. Dirt, sand, loose rocks, pebbles, grass were most common. Occasional roots. At times there were stretches of grass, or dirt, but at other times terrain rapidly switched from loose rocks to pebbles to sand or all of the above. Descents could be treacherous at times due to the loose surfaces and grade. I would best describe the course as a roller coaster ride from start to finish, it didn’t let up until you cross the finish line.

Recommendations..

Review/course logistics. The course was well-marked. There were no issues with orienteering or path-finding. There was zero pavement and no obstacles. The course was always wide enough for passing, with zero bottlenecks. Adequate # of water/aid stations spaced throughout. I carried no energy or water. Ear buds/music was allowed. I saw two runners with dogs.

Shoes. Strongly recommend trail specific shoes. Lots of loose rock, sand, dirt both on ascents and descents. I wore fairly aggressive Saucony Xodus 3.0′s and was happy I did. My Garmin 205 showed grades both up and down of up to 22%, with many repeated grades between 8-12%. Sand, sand, sand.

Training. I run about 20-25 miles a week of mostly flat, at a training pace of around 8:15-8:30/mi. Race pace is 6:15 for the mile. 7:00 for a 5K. I run trails occasionally for fun and would not call myself a ‘trail runner’, although in the past I could have been called a very serious mountain biker.

If you don’t run steep hills UP and DOWN at least a couple times a month, you will not be ready to attack this course with gusto (though it will still certainly be fun!). My legs gave out well before my cardiovascular. The uphills were very taxing to the leg muscles, to the point that walking up at least part way became more frequent toward the end of the race. The downhills were commonly steep enough to be quite taxing as well if attempting anything like a strictly controlled descent. At times a nearly all-out downhill bomb was the best way to conserve energy – yeah, not recommended for the clumsy aka balance impaired.

Summary. Very challenging but extremely fun. Highly recommended for anybody that’s looking for a great way to test their leg endurance & trail running mettle, while having a blast.

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