January 5, 2009

The Siberian Express

I ran the Siberian Express on Saturday. It is a winter trail race over near Danville put on by neighboring running club Kennekuk Road Runners. I ran this race twice during high school, and once again about six years ago. In all three previous attempts at this race I underperformed (i.e. didn't have a great race).

Usually this race is held on a 7.6 mile trail at Kickapoo state park, but with the park closing scare by the recently-arrested-for-massive-corruption governor, the venue was changed to a 7.1 mile trail at nearby Kennekuk county park. Good. Perhaps a different trail (which I've run more recently) will get me out of my Siberian funk.

Siberian Express map

The first mile is relatively wide, then the trail gets very narrow. I knew I would have to run the first mile fast in order to be well placed when we hit the narrow section, because it would be very difficult to pass people later on. This strategy worked well enough for me at Tecumseh.

Unfortunately for me, this race has a lot of very good competition, and everyone else seemed to have the same strategy. We started fast. Really fast. Super fast. At the one mile mark my watch read 5:52. This is almost as fast as I would run in a flat road 5K. This race was on a hilly rugged trail which was more than twice that distance. I was in about 15th place when the trail narrowed. I slowed significantly after the first mile... and so did everyone else.

Siberian Express race bib

The rest of the race was just a really long struggle. I used up all my energy and I had nothing left just a few miles in. I watched the runners in front of me. They were going so slow, but I just couldn't catch up to them. I did pass a couple of other fast starters early on, but as the race went on a dozen or so runners passed me. Here's a photo.

I finished 25th place out of over 400. This was my best finishing place in a Siberian Express, so it wasn't a total loss... but I was not at all happy with how I got there. My streak of underperforming at this race continues for at least another year.

Siberian Express award

I hobbled over to the car and grabbed my camera. I didn't have a great run, but maybe I'd be able to get some photos of friends finishing the race. After seeing a few come in and taking several pictures, I looked at my camera to review them only to see the words "NO CARD" displayed on the camera's screen. Crap. I had taken the card out to transfer Friday's photos to the computer and I forgot to put it back in. As soon as I got home I put a spare memory card in the car so that hopefully never happens again.


Melissa said...

it sounds like you did pretty darn well in spite of everything. Good job!

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

What do you use to create the map images of the race routes you post? They always catch my attention.

Ragfield said...

Ben, the maps are produced by a Mathematica program I wrote specifically for this purpose. It reads a GPS track (e.g. from a GPX file) and overlays the path on top of imagery downloaded from Google maps. Unfortunately, the Google maps downloading is quite unofficial and somewhat fragile, so I can't really distribute that part for other people to use. However, if you would like me to make a map for you I'd be glad to do it. Just email me a GPX (or some other) file from a GPS device (or even just a list of latitude,longitude values).