Training for a Trail Race

Race Recap and Lessons Learned

by Brian Mulvihill

I finished the race (  CrossCut 25K  ) albeit with a few problems along the course. The quick and dirty is that it went well even with some shitty course marking. The race organizer apologized at the awards ceremony and acknowledged that next year they will use different color flagging, instead of the GREEN they used this year. I would say that the majority of the race was run on or next to GREEN grass. Poor choice on their end but hey maybe I should have paid better attention. I missed a critical left hand turn around mile 12 that would have sent me in the direction of the finish, instead i followed other runners and started looping back towards an aid station junction. Yes we were following flagging but it was a lollipop style course and included a 15K and 25K distance, so they intertwined on occasion. I eventually made a decision to head back towards the first section of the lollipop stick , amongst other lost racers. I finished in 2hr43min. After looking into a fellow racers GPS tracking of the route and seeing where I missed the turn I figured I ran an extra 2+ miles thus giving me a pace of 9:10 per mile.

I felt discouraged upon realizing I was off course with a bunch of other racers, but was still determined to finish. After making the last long climb back out of a tree-shaded drainage, I merged back into the proper race course and started the final 1.5 mile descent. I was spent, my legs were quaking and i was experiencing some serious pain in my left knee. This final descent was rocky and tall grass blocked some of your view of the trail. I managed to run slowly while blocking out the pain in my knee. Once the finish arch was in full view and the trail eased back in angle I was able to take full strides thru the finish. Done.


  1. Choose a race that is established and not the first, this allows for all the kinks in course marking and route selection to be fine tuned before you show up to race.
  2. Run more hill intervals. This race started out with 2000ft gain in the first 1.5 miles. I made it with a good pace but suffered later in the race because i think i never fully recovered.
  3. Train more in the gym. For me this needs to be more hip, glute and ankle work.
  4. Racing is fun. I forgot how cool it is to be surrounded by other people out enjoying the sheer joy of running and pushing each other and themselves.
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