Saturday, December 27, 2014

2014 Pere Marquette Trail Run

2014 Pere Marquette Trail Run

Justin Stewart
1st Place Overall
49:36 (6:37 pace)
7.5 Miles 
Grafton, IL 

The Pere Marquette Trail race went into my top 10 favorite races instantly. At first I didn't realize that this race was so popular and that registration closes up within minutes. I had wanted to do this race for a few years but never could make it but this year my schedule opened up last minute and I was able to race. I had to reach out to the race director last minute and swap registration with an athlete who couldn't make it so it ended up working out and I'm glad it did.

The Race
I didn't know much about the course other than it was pretty difficult with a few decent climbs for the Midwest at least. Racers were sent off in waves of 10 or so based on predicted times and past finishes. I was lucky enough the guy I swapped with was in the fast/first wave and I promised the race director I would disappoint. I was able to warm up on a few of the trails and knew the first mile was a decent climb.

On the line introductions were made stating last years winner and I thought I'd fly in under the radar undetected until the starter stated I was an elite stair climber racing this course for the first time. Gun went off into a narrow trail so I got out in first so I could see where I was running without any hangups.
Justin Stewart (Front & Center White Top)
After a few yards the trail started going up and up with natural steps every once and a while as well. At this point I wanted to push but stay under control. The first downhill came and I surged to see if anybody would go with, a couple did. We got to the top of the first climb within the first mile and I was leading the way with two other on my heels. I surged again and let my stride out on the long downhill. I put a decent gap on the field and just kept pushing. The course was really hilly so I couldn't get into a rhythm so my plan was to attack the downhills and tough out the uphills. After a while I found myself a ways out in the lead. I checked my watch at the mile markers and I couldn't get a good read on my pace because it was so hilly and inconsistent. The course took me back down by the start and I knew the last 1.5 had another hard climb with some old stone steps at the top and then it was a downhill stretch to the finish. I was able to run up the historically marked steps at the top. As I started on the downhill stretch towards the finish I started to tie up. I wanted to push the downhill to a suicidal pace just letting my body go but I couldn't because every step I felt my calves were tying up so I pulled back a little not wanting to pull anything with .5 miles to go.Came through the line with a good reception from the crowd and saw 49:30ish. I was about 3:30 off the course record which was what I was shooting for. Maybe next year. Who knows what the course looked like 14 years ago but the course record is one solid mark and it will be something to chase in years to come.

Overall, great event and great people. I got a sense of the history that this race has had and I will most likely be back next year to defend the win and go for the record.


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