What can I say about the Inaugural Bald Peak Half Marathon?
I mean, other than "Ow! OW! Make it stop! MAKE IT STOP!!!"
Ah the Bald Peak Half. We (Jules and I) knew when we signed up that it would be tough, and we knew when we drove out to the course a couple of months before the race that it would be really tough, and we knew when we drove to the course the morning of the race and it was raining that it would be really, really tough.
It turned out to be insanely tough.
And also beautiful and challenging and filled with interesting wildlife. With amazing course support and excellent company throughout. Except for maybe that last mile where if I had let Jules get too close she probably would've smacked me for being too perky. But more on that later.
The Bald Peak Half was held out in rural Hillsboro. The start was at Hagg's Tree Farm, so with a total of 93 finishers there was plenty of parking. With 93 finishers, the race director pretty much knew all of us by name. We had told him the night before at packet pickup that we would probably be DFL. He laughed and said "oh, the other people in here just said that too!" We weren't kidding and we told him so, but then waiting for the race to start I spotted two ladies in the bunch and just knew by the backpack one of them was wearing that there was now a distinct possibility that we would be next to DFL.
You'll notice there's really only one stretch of anything resembling flat road between about mile 11 and mile 12.5. At which point the course went STRAIGHT UP. We had to stop about every 20 feet to rest, it was that brutal. At least 300 feet of elevation gain in a very short stretch. I think overall we ran maybe three miles worth of downhill out of the whole 13.1 mile course. We finished in 4:03 and change. Oh, and those two ladies I saw at the start? They finished around 5:30. The guy who finished first? A six minute mile average. Eeep!
Despite the course being an exercise in diabolicality (is so a word!), and my not being prepared for it and Jules having a wicked head cold, it was a great race. Even with some low clouds and the rain it is very beautiful out there. We saw some great houses plus a camel, llamas, alpaca, very vocal cows and sheeps, and one memorable piece of roadkill that I'm still not sure what it was.
Best of all, the course support was amazing. There were five aid stations along the course and although a couple of those were no longer being manned by the time we reached them they were still well stocked with water, Heed, gummy bears and gummy fruits. The volunteers were extremely encouraging and such good sports to still be out there for us in the rain. In many spots the race director was out to check on the course and probably on us as well. There was even a huge thing of the promised pancakes and bacon for us -- still warm!! -- and water and gatorade.
The bling was really nice too. Oh, and I almost forgot: flush toilets with hot and cold running water at the start. Although there was a snafu with the honey bucket people so no potties out on the course. But hey, plenty of trees and bushes so they almost weren't missed.
So, would I do this race again? I think I would. I'd really like to be in shape for it though. While I'd still walk a lot of those sharp, steep hills there were plenty that with proper conditioning I could have run, and the downhill would've been easier if my ass hadn't been shredded. I also wish I'd had more room for pancakes and bacon (even if it was turkey bacon) but I lost my appetite on that glute killing hill at the end.