Sunday, March 1, 2015

Run for Ray

The 7th annual Run for Ray trail races took place at the Brunswick Nature Park in southeastern North Carolina Saturday, February 21st.

Proceeds from the race support the Ray Underhill Foundation which focuses on chordoma cancer research. Ray was a pro skater who passed from planet Earth way too young. Before the start of the races each year, Ray's former wife Kerry addresses the gathered trail runners about what our collective efforts help do, and tearfully thanks all of us for being there.

It's one of those moments in running and in life that I don't want to miss. It's one of those days of the year that as a runner I feel like I'm a part of something much bigger. It's also one of the most fun, and challenging races of the year that I compete in. And the race awards artisan made skate decks to the top 3 overall M/F in each race, that are some of the most coveted racing prizes in the running community.

One year the Elvis of the skate boarding world Tony Hawk showed up and ran.

I ran the 9 mile course this year. The race starts on an old logger road before plunging into the woods onto some fairly technical single track about a 1/2 mile in. As many of us are wont to do, I went out a bit too fast (6:20s pace on my garmin). After some brief moments of panic, and a bit of disorientation, I settled into a steady low to mid 7 minute per mile pace on the undulating trail. Which allowed me to get my breathing back under control, and my races senses back more in tune with the task yet at hand.

The next few miles I ran by myself until I latched onto the tail of 3 other runners. We chatted amicably, while also maintaining a keen focus on the terrain. The trail is rather root strewn, and a mix of dirt and sand indigenous to the terrain closer to the ocean. And seems to be continually going around turns. In fact it wouldn't be hard to take a turn too fast and whack into a tree. (Several runners DNF due to some nasty spills.)

The two men were running the 18, (a double loop), and the woman the 9. Me and her knew each other from the Wilmington Road Runners Club of which we are both members.

The two of us running the 9 eventually bid farewell and pulled ahead. Later I moved in front of her and ran the last mile solo again (6:05)on much more benign, yet muddy single track that meanders thru some meadows.I finished in 1:00:15, good enough for 3rd place in the Male Open division. And after several years and several attempts, my first skate board deck.

What a wonderful morning spent out in the wilderness.