I ran the North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon last Sunday and I must say that I absolutely loved it! I will definitely be doing it again next year.
This was the Course Description form the Participants guide:
The DC Endurance Challenge Half Marathon is so sweet that runners will want to run it twice! From the start at Algonkian Park, the trails narrow to single track and wind through lush flood plain. The course is mostly flat, fast and well shaded. Where the Potomac has eaten away at the shores the trail traverses up the hillside then back down to the water’s edge. Runners will feel as though they are cruising through dense lowland forest all the way to the turnaround point and back.
It started at 8:00. I left the house at 6:00 in order to get to the parking lot where the runners needed to take a shuttle bus to the event. I got to the event grounds around 7:15 and walked around for a bit.
I wasn't sure what to expect as this was my first trail race. Almost all of the trail was in the shade and that was awesome! The first 3 miles were flat, but right after that we came to a huge hill that EVERYONE hiked up, there was no point in wasting all our energy running up that hill! I felt good the whole time and was really enjoying the scenery. There was a bit of mud along the trail because it had rained the night before so I was careful to pay attention and go slowly when going up hills in the mud.
There were definitely parts of the trail that were single file and I tended to get stuck going slowly behind several people. For the longest time I didn't pass anyone because I kind of felt bad doing it, but after awhile of seeing others do it in a nice way, saying "passing on your left" at times when the path was wider, I started doing the same thing
There was also a part of the trail that had a huge puddle/stream that we had to run through and since this was an out and back course we did it twice...I have to say I enjoyed this too! Also, there were quite a few wooden bridges that we ran over as well as a lot of logs/fallen down trees that we stepped over or jumped over. I only got a few scratches and bruises from jumping over logs.
Because this was an out and back trail, towards mile 5 the winner and runners after him started passing us on the trail...and it seemed like they were flying, there were parts of the trail that were so narrow that we had to stop running and step to the side to let them pass.
Overall, I had a great experience. I think the only downside to the race for me was getting stuck behind slower runners on the narrow part of the trail. I think next time I will start out a bit faster and find more opportunities to pass people on the left.
As you can see from the elevation chart we had quite a hill to climb after mile 3 and on the way back too.