It wasn't my fastest (20:47) or my slowest (32:10), but I felt that 26:07 was a solid effort. The course, while beautiful, was not designed with me in mind. Lots of steep climbs, not my specialty, with very few long runnable downhills, which is my specialty. I knew I wouldn't be winning the race when after climbing for an hour to the high point on the course, and soaking in the spectacular view, we headed out for what I thought would be a long down hill patch, in which I could catch the field. Well, as we were at the pinnacle, we did descend, sadly the descent was straight down through jagged rocks. I kept looking for Sam and Frodo as I was sure this section known as Blue Hell was near the gates of Mordor. I know for sure I saw Smegal at some point. Needless to say my specialty is NOT climbing hand over fist down a mountain and I caught no one.
The course wasn't the only thing that slowed me down. There were 7 falls along the way. Some gnarly! I hit my knee, my elbow, my wrist, my other knee, my arse. I was a stumbling and a bumbling! Those were some slippery, and well hidden rocks. In addition to the stumbles there were the "Pit Stops." Sylacauga, Alabama isn't known for fine Italian food, but it is known for greasy food. Well when you combine Pizza and grease, you get 5 pit-stops in the woods. I had carried enough supplies for 3 pit stops. Let's just say that there are two cotton running gloves a few miles apart in the Talladega National Forest than I wouldn't want to wear again, ever... under any circumstances!
Later on there were some very nice downhills and I was very happy with the way I ran, but in general given the course and my poor selection in trail shoes for the first 1/2 of the race my time wasn't nearly as good as my effort would have dictated. Happily, I was ok with that. I just wanted to run as well as I could and I did that. I didn't waste any time at aid stations nor did I walk when I should have run. For the most part I just relaxed and used that savvy veteran patience and let the course dictate my action.
Here it is in a school interview. My part is from 1:45 in till the end (boy do I look tired, er, I was!):