Thursday, October 21, 2010

Race Review: The North Face Endurance Challenge

Last weekend, The North Face brought its Endurance Challenge to Georgia. The event featured seven races – from a 5K run to the grueling Gore-Tex 50 Mile competition. And all these races were run on trails.

My friend and colleague Kevin Coffey hit the ground to run the 10K race. Having never run a trail event, I wanted to learn more about Kevin’s experience and find out what it’s really like to run a race on a trail.

How long have you been running?
I started running a year ago. Running was something that I could easily fit into my schedule and it gave me the opportunity to explore my neighborhood.

Not only was this my first trail run, but it was also my first organized running event.

So, how was the trail?
It was definitely a challenge. The trail featured all the obstacles you could imagine – rocks, tree roots, stairs, streams, bushes and branches – with lots of elevation changes. For the most part, the trail was narrow and racers were forced to run single file. Some parts of the trail edged along the side of a very steep hill –one wrong step and you’d find yourself off the trail and sliding downhill.

While it took longer to run the race on a trail vs. a paved surface, the scenery was extraordinary. I liked the challenge that the trail presented. Overall, it was a great experience.

What shoes did you run in?
I wore trail shoes from La Sportiva. I liked the fact that the sole was durable while the upper part was mesh.

How many runners were on the trail with you?
There were probably around 200 runners for the 10K race. Most of the other races seemed to have 100 participants each.

It’s amazing to think that there were seven races taking place at this event. Was it well organized?
Definitely. There was a festival center with a runners recovery area, massages and live music. And for kids, there was a fun run that included costumed characters who ran the race along side the kids. The North Face also hosted a panel discussion with Dean Karnazes and other elite runners. They talked about tips and techniques for trail running.

What about the swag?
Each race featured different types of swag. Along with Kleen Kanteen water bottles, 10K runners received a branded bag and two technical shirts. There was on-site screen printing were runners could have a design for their specific race printed on their shirt.

So, is there another trail run in your future?
Yes – I’m already looking for more trail races.

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