A return to one of my favorite races, the Groundhog 50K. I ran it last in 2009. Since then, the race director has changed over to Bob Lott and it is sponsored by the VFW. I was happy to say the Groundhog 50K has remained a nicely organized, friendly race that I remembered.
The hills (and the course) have not changed! The course is a "lollipop" you run out on the stick, run the circle loop (twice) and then finish run back along the way you came out.
Race morning was warm. 75 degrees. But the weather forecast was for 100% rain and a drop in temps that I was looking forward to.
It was funny, in perusing the entrants list, how few Buckeyes were over for the race.Back in the day, like in 2009, it seemed at least 1/2 the entrants were from Ohio and I knew most of them. I did run into Lew, from WVMTR before the race, and also Scott and Rick.
My legs were extremely tight on the first few miles, both hamstrings, and shins. I carefully ran down ESPN Hill, since I didn't feel warmed up yet.
The rain began about mile 2. This made the descent of "Two Beers Hill" a little slick, and I took it more easy than I usually do. But these climbs and descents did warm up my legs finally.
I got over to the Buck Run AS, and I got a shout out from ultra runner Brian Krogman, who was working the AS. This energized me to get down the trail, to face "Yellowbus Hill" and then "Crybaby Hill".
In past Groundhog 50K races, the male winners have always managed to pass me on my first loop (which is their second loop.) I was happy to see this year, the winner did not manage to lap me.
I enjoyed revisiting the named hills again. We were running in a light rain, and once past these hills, the skies opened and the rain really came down.
The second loop is in the rain, and Rick and I share some trail time after the hills. We start down the short road section, before we encounter the Buck Run AS, and are astounded to see two downed trees in the road. These trees were not here on the first loop through! Must have had some severe weather on the course, but not where I was.
Last time through the Buck Run AS. I got alot of positive energy from the Krogman, and was really energized leaving the AS. I was still feeling very good, and really not out of energy.
But now I had the Water Tower Hill (really not that bad) and the few miles of reclaimed strip mine to get through. The rain had almost stopped, but the temp was still a bit cool.
I had run this whole race without a watch. The Garmin beeped "low battery" so I turned it off and chucked it back into my vehicle before the race. So I was just....running. I didn't know how fast, or slow. I was just running.
The problem with the Groundhog course is you might be running very well, on course for a PR..but you still have to go up both Two Beers Hill and ESPN Tower Hill.
My climbing skills have improved dramatically since 2009. Two Beers is done, no stopping, and then I am running down the backside of TB. I cross the road and then climb the ESPN Tower Hill. I don't catch anyone on the climb, but I pass three people on the way back to the finish.
One guy catches me at the high school and re passes me. It is all downhill here now, but he's on fire, I can't catch him.
It's all downhill but it's on a town road, so there is car traffic. I put my head down and run. I am almost to the hardware store when a car stops on the side street next to it. Oh no, dude, I do not want to stop for you. He waves me on, and I tear around the corner of the hardware store to the finish line.
There is no finish line clock or really any finish line; I stop running by the timing tent. Some guy says good job and hands me a little box, and I ask "what's my finishing time?"
6.41. I ask them to repeat them that. Awesome. I ran without a watch, running to feel, and I PR'd my Groundhog 50K time-from 2006.
So, nice race, nice to see the Groundhog 50K course again, and a PR. A good day for me!