On Wednesday night I ran the first Dirt Cheap Trail Race of the year at Black Creek Park. This was my first race in over five months which I believe is the longest gap that I have had between races in the past decade.

As the first race that I have run in the middle of the pandemic a few things were a bit different. The race operated as a time trial with runners free to start at any point within a two hour window. With the starting times so spread out, and the field limited to those who (like me) signed up for the series back in March, it was a bit lonely on the course. I only saw five other runners the whole time, and (by definition) none of them were running at a similar pace to me. I understand that the race has to follow whatever the current state guidelines are, but I would have preferred to see a traditional race format. For a race through the woods with such a small field, everyone was going to spread out fairly quickly anyhow.

For the race itself, I finished the course in 47:20 which placed me as the 22nd fastest finisher, but was slower than 2019 and 2018. Perhaps I was slow because I lacked the energy and adrenaline of a standard race. Perhaps it was because I am out of shape after having an empty race calendar all summer. Or maybe the 85 degree heat, and that fact that I had been working outside all morning meant that I wasn’t going to put up a great time on this day even if this had been a normal year.

Overall I found this race format a bit uninspired. While I will complete this series (another race is scheduled for next friday), I don’t plan on going out of my way to sign up for many races until they start looking like races again.