The Pineland Farms Festival of Races was this weekend, and it made what was already a great event into something for the whole family. Along with the normal 25k, 50k and 50 mile races that have been offered for the past few years, an additional day of racing and festivities was added which included 10k, canicross 5k, 5k, and barefoot 5k races. There were also 3 legged races, wheelbarrow races, and an egg toss, on top of BBQs both days and a pasta dinner on Saturday night.

Saturday Racing

Barefoot 5k ShirtI got to do a lot of barefoot running, starting with the barefoot 5k on Saturday. I ran faster than every single person wearing shoes…the winners of the normal 5k and the canicross 5k (running tied to a dog) were both mid-19s, obviously the 10k was on a more difficult and longer course, and in the barefoot 5k there was only 1 person in the top 5 wearing Vibrams (he got 4th.)

I found that racing barefoot is much easier than running the course easily without shoes. With the faster leg turnover, the rocks on the course weren’t an issue at all; there was only 1 point when I was trying to get around a bunch of the normal 5k runners (who had a 10 minute head start) where I had to go through a very rocky patch that I was even uncomfortable.

One of the trail monsters was at a few points on the course with a video camera so I imagine he’ll have a cool video of the race in the not too distant future.

The race was a lot of fun, and everybody I spoke with enjoyed either running or watching it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get one of the cool race shirts pictured above…I didn’t check my shirts that I’d gotten until I got home and so I got a normal 5k/10k shirt. Which is still nice, but doesn’t have the cool footprint. Oh well, next year I’ll remember to check the shirts.

Saturday Post-Race Events

Barefoot 5k AwardsAfter the race was the awards ceremony, where the overall and age group winners won custom plaques made of pine with a shoe print or barefoot print. There were also other prizes provided by one of the sponsors, Vibram, so I got a pair of injinji socks and a Vibram shirt to go along with my third place finish.

I didn’t take part in any of the kid events, but I know that one of my friends wound up sticking around for a few extra hours because her kids decided they wanted to take part rather than going to visit family and they had a blast. Apparently, the eggs in the egg toss weren’t breaking very easily so people wound up winging them at each other just to get the eggs to travel far enough to be caught.

After the BBQ, there were 4 clinics that took place. I was a speaker at the ultrarunning clinic, which technically had 2 sessions of 1 hour a piece but was more like one 2 hour long conversation between the speakers and the listeners. A few people were there for the entire 2 hours although the majority came and went throughout the time we were speaking. It was a lot of fun as well.

The final event of the day was the pasta dinner. I thought that it was supposed to be at 7:00, but when I looked up the directions I saw that it was from 5:00-7:00. By the time we got there there weren’t many people left, but we sat down and chatted with some folks from Boston while we ate our fill.

After the dinner, we went back home where my wife finished cooking potatoes for the ultrarunners on Sunday. In all, she made a half dozen loaves of bread (2 loaves for the Saturday BBQ, 4 for the Sunday BBQ) and 30 pounds of potatoes.

Sunday’s Races

Sunday morning, we got up and had breakfast before heading over to Pineland Farms, since we weren’t running until 10:00 and didn’t need to be there early. I turned on Channel 8 and got to see an interview with one of the race directors, Erik Boucher, before they cut off for other news.

25 Pounds of Potatoes for Sunday's RunnersAfter arriving, we sent one canvas grocery bag full of potatoes to the final mile aid station and loaded the other bag into the refrigerator in the grove where the start/finish area was located. After a bit of warming up and cheering on 50k and 50 mile runners that were passing through to start a new lap, we were ready for our race to start.

I followed my race strategy pretty closely with only one real deviation.

I went out about as hard as I normally do in races, leading for the first mile before a half dozen or so people passed me. The general plan was for a fast first 5k (which was mostly downhill) and then to maintain about 7 minute pace much of the rest of the race. I wanted to stop at the aid stations for water and cytomax and walk the tops of the uphills on the campus side and early on the oak hill side so I’d be able to run the last few hills before the finish. This course is not flat at all.

One of the fields on Oak Hill got removed and replaced with a field on the campus loop…I liked this course much better than last year’s. Not that there’s a huge difference, but the new field was fun to run through. Hopefully they keep the race as is for the future.

25k RaceFor walking the hills, my strategy was to run until I was only moving at a pace that I could walk at, and then to walk since it uses a lot less energy. I did slow down a little, but I was able to make up for it on the downhills.

A couple guys caught me on one walk and tried to encourage me, but I thanked them and said I was good and then blew past them once we had crested. One of them passed me when I was taking off my shoes a few miles later.

And that is what the 1 thing that I did that wasn’t in my race plan.

My left foot was going numb by the time I was halfway through the race, so after a few miles of having a numb foot I decided enough was enough. As I passed through the grove at about 10 miles, I took my shoes off and tossed them to the side (one of the Atayne guys grabbed ’em for me and put them in their tent.) I then ran the last 5 and a half miles barefoot, which felt pretty good.

All the acorns on Oak Hill had either been crushed or brushed off the path when it was mowed, so other than a few rocky stretches it felt pretty good. The final field felt awesome, except for one problem. Some of the stalks of grass were really stiff and thick (it is a haying field that was recently mowed for the race) so I wound up impaling my foot at one point about a third of a mile from the finish.

Not that it mattered much during the race, I had a good finish. I passed a few guys that hadn’t managed their nutrition too well and faded hard in the last few miles, and I wound up trying to out-kick Jeff Silveira to the finish…between the really rocky path right before the final sprint and that he had a good kick to finish with, though, I was only able to come in right behind him as he held me off.

I spoke with him a few hours after we finished and he’d had no idea I was that close. He thought since I was barefoot that I was one of the ultrarunners and didn’t know I was even in his race, and since I didn’t have shoes on he couldn’t hear me running behind him. But, it didn’t matter, he still beat me by 1 second.

I finished in 1:48:23. I’d hoped for 1:45 but figured I’d be finished in 1:45-1:50 so that was right about where I thought I’d be. It was a good time.

Erin in the 25kBest of all was watching my wife finish; she ran 2:26 and beat over half the field and had a smile on her face at the end. She looked strong at the finish.

I’m glad she had such a good experience…maybe she’ll decide to train for a marathon again after all after having finished that. She’s certainly looking forward to running again next year.

The rest of the day was spent enjoying the post-race BBQ, cheering on friends who finished their various races, and in general just hanging around enjoying the weather. It was pretty warm out for racing, although the breeze kept it from being miserable, but for spectating it was awesome.

One unfortunate part of the day is that we never got all the Trail Monsters together for a team photo. We had a bet on with Acidotic Racing for the team prize in the 25k, and as part of the trash talking we came up with the idea to psyche them out with a bad mustache contest. (I’m pretty sure that mine was the absolute worst.) It would have been nice to get everybody together for a photo of all the silliness that we were able to come up with.

Acidotic wound up beating us by 17 minutes; I caught their top guy in the last mile, but they had more depth than we did since the Trail Monsters were split up amongst all 3 races. Unfortunately, the results don’t list team names so you have to look at the team awards to see who was on what team, and only the top 7 or 8 people from each team are listed. (Erin missed out from being listed as a Trail Monster by less than a minute.)

Clean Up

Erin and I were both too tired to go back to pick up the course in the evening, so Monday morning we went to help clean up. Almost everything was piled up in the grove, so we sorted out trash, loaded trucks, took apart tables and divvied up the leftover food into piles for what was reusable in future races and for what we wanted to take home.

We wound up taking home 3 dozen eggs and 4 containers of potatoes. Unfortunately, the potato distribution got overlooked. Some aid stations didn’t have them out as early as people could have hoped, and even though a few stations ran out of them late in the race nobody checked to see if any were left in the fridge at the start/finish area and so there were probably 10 or 15 pounds left.

It was amazing the difference in how the grove looked before and after we were done. Namely, it was pretty empty other than bales of hay and a trailer when we left, whereas there was trash and equipment piled everywhere when we’d gotten there.

While Ian and Erik drove the rental truck off to empty it of equipment in various places around the state where it had been borrowed from, I went for a short run across the street on the Oak Hill trails with Alan and Karen. The run turned into a trash run, as some of the runners didn’t listen to the pre-race instructions about not carrying their trash away from the aid stations.

There wasn’t a lot of trash, but there was enough that I’m glad we got out there to pick them up. Hopefully somebody walked the trails near the other aid stations at some point to make sure those got picked up as well.

Results, Photos & Race Reports

With record numbers even when you only consider the pre-existing races, there are bound to be a lot of race reports and photo galleries popping up online about the races.

I’ll try to keep track of as many as I can as I find them; if you spot some that I missed please leave a comment below, and check back over the next week or two as I add to the list. The order they are listed is merely the order I found them in.

Saturday Results: 10kCanicross 5k5kBarefoot 5k
Sunday Results: 25k50k50 Miles

Photo Galleries

Race Videos

Race Reports