Willis River 50k - Jan 12th 2013
First race of the year went really well.
We headed down to Bear Creek Lake State Park some 30ish miles west of Richmond, VA at 4am in the morning with Ultra runner Caroline Williams. Stopped for a sugary latte at Mc Ds which woke me up from a sleepless night. Scary drive down in thick fog, passing a big truck on fire off the highway and after a small detour we got there around 6:30am. Plenty of time to use the nice facilities :D
It remained foggy for much of the morning during the run which was perfect - it kept the temperatures low and the mist felt good and cooling to the skin.
The first 5 miles were probably the most tricky where people got lost, they said to follow white blazes and tape. Sometimes you end up with white blazes going 2 different ways and was really confusing. After some debating with others and spotting some taped markers further down trail we headed in which was hopefully the right direction. Although I remember one spot that was taped in a couple of different ways - so you have to use your best judgment. Not the best marked trail. Lucky I stayed on course.
Stream crossings were not bad - I have heard one year it was waist deep (brrrr)!
The aid stations have little in the way of food so come prepared if you plan to do this one. I found myself pretty hungry by the end.
The course is 2 out and backs so its nice to see some familiar faces, there was maybe around 80 people doing the race so you don't have to step off to the side too much.
The course is very scenic. No big climbs or mountains - just some rolling gentle hills, a few rocks, roots and pot holes so you have to pay attention to those ankle breakers, mostly soft with pine needles and single track with a couple of short stretches of dirt road. You follow a river much of the way which I was always find to be relaxing.
I would do this one again, but would bring a little more for food and some Gatorade mix.