I put this race on the schedule because it was close to home and on a trail system I was familiar with. This is the second year for the Xterra Trail 10k which is held on Saturday with a Trail Triathlon held the next day in the same location. I run quite a bit on this trail system as it is only 15 miles from my house but I had never raced there.
I arrived about 2 hours early with the intention of putting in a few easy miles in before the race. The race was going to be just part of my normal training day. So I arrived about 0720 for the 0900 start, checked in and then went on a easy 5 mile run on some of the trails that were not being used for the race. I arrived back at the start about 40 minutes before race time. I geared up then spent time chatting with Eric and Javier some acquaintances from my running group. Eric was going to run the 5K and Javier was volunteering.
The race start was pretty laid back as was the whole race. They just announced over the PA that we would all line up by the big tree. I knew that we would run down a gravel road for about 1/3 of a mile before we took a left onto the single track. I wanted to get behind the fast runners but before most of the slow ones because I knew there wouldn't be much passing on the trails. The 5K and 10K runners all started at the same time.
So we got the READY, SET, GO!!! and everyone took off. The 10K course included the easy and intermediate mountain bike trails which as I said before were single track and very hilly. I managed to get ahead of all the slower runners and was with a quick group as we entered the single track. At that point I had decided to go ahead and actually race the race so I was pushing it and my breathing was labored. I had someone right behind me and he pushed me over the first 2 miles but I managed to stay ahead of him and I settled into a comfortable breathing pattern. I really let it go on the downhills and kept a steady pace on the ups.
Eventually we popped out of the woods and hit the point where the 5K and the 10K split. The 5K runners took a right and headed back to the start while the 10K took a left and continued up about 300 meters of steep gravel road. I passed the guy who had passed me at this point and also passed one other runner at the top of the hill. I took a right and entered once again onto the single track. There was no one in front of me as far as I could see and the two guys I had passed were right behind me. Over the next 2-3 miles we would have our own mini race. We stuck together as I really picked it up on the downhills with them right on my heels. They even tried to engage in some mind games with me telling me about a big hill that was ahead ( Not sure which one they were talking about because they were all big). We traded position back and forth with me in the lead or in second, with the other guy right behind me. About 4-5 miles into the race as I was trying to take a picture on the downhill ( I had been taking pictures the whole race) I tripped on a root and paid for my lack of attention. I did a head over hills combat roll with my cell phone flying one way and my sunglasses the other. I was OK beside my hurt pride. Both of the guys I had been running with asked me if I was ok and as I dusted myself off they took off down the trail. Now I was chasing, Over the next section I managed to catch up to and pass one of the guys but the other one had found a new gear and he was out of sight.