Linville Gorge from the summit of Table Rock

Linville Gorge from the summit of Table Rock

Sunday, October 4, 2009

2009 Triple Lakes Marathon

In 2007, I ran the 40-mile event at Triple Lakes, which includes an out-and-back not on the marathon course. As best as I can remember, the terrain along the out-and-back was essentially the same as the rest of the marathon course. So, for everything I write here, add 54% more.

The race(s) take place in a seemingly remote part of Greensboro. I say that because you turn off I-40 before entering the main part of Greensboro (coming from the west) and drive quite a ways out to Bur-Mil Park. I can't report on the history of the park or the lakes, but it's near an upscale a residential area, only a little of which you'll see during the race. There is now a half-marathon, which drew a surprisingly large crowd, that starts an hour after the marathon and 40-miler's 8:00 start.

The first mile or two of the course are pavement as you head out the entrance road, turn onto the street for a while, then come onto a greenway/bike path. You're not on pavement very long before it's into the woods, where you'll spend 99% of the rest of the race. I thought I had reviewed this course before, but it may have been on our old message board. The single biggest obstacle in this race is the roots. Rocks come into play every now and then, but the roots seem to be everywhere. The trail is well maintained and winds through the forest while making its way around the lake. You'd expect there to be a lot of shade running through the woods, and there was, however, from time to time, sunlight would break through the trees and make it a bit difficult to watch your footing. There are rolling hills, but rarely will you come to a hill that you can't run. One of the toughest parts of the course is on a trail that has technical obstacles for mountain bikers. Pyramids of logs and crevasses about eight feet wide can really slow you down, but that's part of the challenge. One interesting thing you don't find at many races were boardwalks that I assume went across swampy areas. If a couple runners were on them at the same time, they would create a "wave" like a water bed and it could actually throw off your stride.

It got a little confusing toward the end of the race because we were rejoining the half-marathoners. That meant from about mile three (when the marathon and 40-miler runners began to spread apart through mile fifteen, you were only around a handful of people. At mile fifteen, you were sharing the course with the half-marathoners who were on about mile 4.5 of their race. While they were all considerate if you needed to pass, the single-track trail made it difficult at times.

The race could easily have been called Triple Lakes Labyrinth because it was very easy to lose track of where you were in relation to the lake, starting line, etc... The course was clearly marked, though, and mile markers were placed at every mile.

The finish area had a small, but enthusiastic crowd. Post-race food included pizza, nacho chips, cookies, jelly beans, fruit, and bagels--with optional peanut butter and jelly. The pizza, however, was short-lived and was probably mostly consumed by the half-marathoners and volunteers. It was there when I finished, but we took a walk for a bit after the finish and returned somewhere around the marathon's four hour point. By then all of the pizza was gone.

While we walked along the greenway, the half-marathon awards were being presented. When we returned, we heard the announcement that marathon awards would not be for another hour and a half. I do not know what the awards were because we did not feel like hanging around that long. I do know that it was ten year age groups and there was no masters division. The medallion is stamped metal about 1" x 2" but it's nice. I'm saving the best for last--the t-shirt. This was probably the coolest t-shirt I have gotten at a race. It was a black, short-sleeved, technical shirt with some purple writing and three pictures of pirate heads. My description does not do it justice, so I will try to post a picture as a follow up to this review.

The organizers do a good job of putting on this race and the volunteers were all cheerful. I can't say much about the aid stations because I really didn't pay much attention to what they had beyond water and gatorade. I remember at one station, a lady asked if I wanted an "energy gel packet." In summary, it's worth a drive to Greensboro if you like trail races and aren't necessarily concerned about running a fast race. Area races that are competing against Triple Lakes at this time of year include: Medoc Trail Marathon, the New River 50K, and a few weeks later, our own Ridge-to-Bridge Marathon. There was also the DuPont Forest Marathon, which--at least for now--has been discontinued.

Triple Lakes Trail Races

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