So the Triple D Winter Race is the first race in what I have named my Winter/Spring of Awesome. I was looking for a January race and it came up on a Google search. It is held in Dubuque Iowa which is only about 90 minutes from where I live.Not sure why they call it the Triple D but it sure is a cool race. I choose to run the Half Marathon (13.1 miles) because frankly I was a little apprehensive about running a trail race in the winter, would I need snowshoes or what? The Triple D is actually 4 events there is the Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Ultra Marathon and a 100KM Mountain Bike race. All these races where held on the Heritage trail system which is a rails to trails system that follows the valley made by the Little Maquoketa River in Dubuque County Iowa. I was a little worried the week prior to the race that it wouldn't be a true winter race as it hadn't snowed yet this year. Not to fear though, we got about 6-8 inches dumped on us the Thursday prior to the race so there was plenty of winter for everyone.
So I got up early the morning of the race and made the 90 minute drive to Dubuque. On the way I did my traditional crappy job of fueling up by eating an egg mcmuffin and a small coffee. One of these days I will do things right but why mess with tradition? Packet pickup was at the Grand Harbour Resort in Dubuque and I arrived about 0815, early enough to pick up my packet and get dressed prior to the pre race briefing at 0900. This was a self supported race so what I carried would be what I had. I was dressed in layers, long sleeve tech shirt, running pants, stocking hat, gloves and my old Army PT jacket (hey it is free and it works) with a GU Gel and some GU shots in my left pocket, and my iphone, emergency numbers and inhaler in the other. On my feet I had my gators and Yak Trax.I was also carrying 2 hand bottles full of diluted Gatorade.
After the pre race briefing we loaded on the Half Marathon bus which would shuttle us to the start point out near Farley Iowa. The trip to the start took awhile, long enough for me to take a little nap. Eventually we turned off the highway and down a gravel,snow covered road. I wasn't sure the bus would make it up a few of the hills but it was fine. The bus dropped us off at a point where the trail crossed the road and we all piled out. There was probably about 20 runners in our group. In front of us heading back towards the east was the start line spray painted on the trail.
So we all kind of milled about for about 10 minutes or so and I took the opportunity to relieve myself in the woods.
Finally someone yelled " Is there any one from the race here?" No one answered, we were on our own. See what I mean about self supported? After figuring out there was no official starter we all just hit our watches and started down the trail.
The race itself was pretty uneventful. I was listening to metal tunes on my iphone and every 5 minutes my running app would inform me of my current distance and pace. The snow got a little slushy in the sunny areas but I found if I took smaller strides and turned my feet over quicker the traction was improved. Since the course followed the river bottom, winding in an out of the large bluffs in the area I think it was slightly downhill the whole way with only one uphill in the whole race. Snowmobiles also used this trail and if you kept on the spots they had packed down the traction was pretty good.
About mile 7 I started bonking a little due to my lack of nutrition but the Gu took care of that issue pretty quickly. I stopped a few times to take pictures and pretty much decided to just enjoy the scenery and the nice sunny winter day. About mile 8.5 we passed the base of the Sundown Ski area and seeing all those people waiting on chairlifts got me daydreaming about when my Special Forces team was doing winter training near WinkleMoos in Bavaria. We were ski touring around the area and one night we stopped at a Hutte and drank way to many Weisbieres. We then had to ski back in a blizzard a couple of kilometers to our hooches (tents) that were set up in the woods on the mountain. Good times. I wasn't really passed by anyone and I didn't pass anyone else after the first few miles. Everyone just kept moving it down the trail. There was one poor guy who was using cross country skis but the gravel base on the trail was messing them up as well as the snowmobile tracks. He also had to take them off everytime we crossed a gravel road. He made it though about 15 minutes after I came in.
Towards the end as the temperature rose to about freezing I started getting hot as I was just a tad overdressed. I took off my hat and unzipped the ventilation ports under the arms of my jacket ( reason I wore the jacket). I quickly cooled back down. The finish line was just as unceremonious as the start, we crossed a bridge and stopped in the parking lot of a bar. You walked inside told them your name and they wrote it down. There was a bar tab established for racers however which was a plus.
Unfortunately I couldn't stay to long as I had a family event going on later in the afternoon, so I grabbed the first shuttle back to my car. All in all this was a good race and fun. I finished in 2:16:49 which is not a PR but is 15 minutes faster than the last half marathon I did. That last half marathon was also on dry pavement so I felt pretty good about my time. I think next year I will probably do the Marathon.