– By Ky Kastes
Although Forge Racing’s motto, “Off the Grid,” is very fitting, after this weekend, one could definitely say it should be more like, “It’s not the Destination, but the Journey.” It wasn’t just a race, but a test of instinct and strategy. The Dirty Soles 5k, 10k and Half Marathon was the start of this year’s Subaru Trail Series. The 10k is the chosen event for 6 races throughout the year with a variation of points given to the top finishes of each race. At the end of the series, prizes are awarded to those with the most points for the series. At Dirty Soles this past Saturday at the Northlake Nature Center, was nothing but an adventure to say the least. With the second Polar Vortex of the year blanketing Southeastern Louisiana a day before the event, it left icy and dangerous driving conditions for the runners. Although the trek across the lake was long and strenuous, it was so worth it.
Racing started around 10 a.m. after race director, Jeff Beck, gave a speech about the course, marked turns, and more importantly the lack there of. The saying goes it isn’t the fastest person that wins trail races; it’s the one who can navigate the terrain. Boy, isn’t that the truth. The start of the race was a quick funnel through the narrow trail covered with wet leaves and plenty of obstacles to jump over and duck under. After finishing the second mile of the course, it was clear that the lack of markers in some places didn’t only lend to the experience, but seemed to even the field for some of the other runners, when faster runners made some wrong turns in the beginning.
The most entertaining and enjoyable part of the race was definitely crossing the icy waters of a sand creek bed. For shorter people, the water was almost waist deep. Plunging into the icy water and trekking over two giant hills to a marker on the course, and then back into the water for the final home stretch really added some excitement. The finish of the race left runners feeling humbled and rewarded for completing such an unforgiving course. It had some stiff competition and the winners Laura Carleton and Shane Walsh, rightful took their places at the top of the leader board. As the rest of the runners crossed the finish line, the real fun began. Delicious home brewed beer poured into cups, warming up runners from the inside out. The difference between road races and trail races seem to be the amount of comradery between the runners. Although winning is always great, it seemed to be more about the adventure getting there that makes the beer at the end taste all the better. And I can tell you, at the end of that journey, the beer has never tasted so good.
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For more info on the 2014 Forge Trail Series visit: Forgeracing.net