Saturday, January 28, 2012

Alumni Weekend Running

Last weekend was a cross country alumni weekend of sorts.  Many runners, past and present, competed in a local 5k, racing on either the current runners team or the alumni team.  Our scoring was cross country style, naturally.  The remainder of the weekend was spent eating, eating, reminiscing, and running, since, well, we are cross country runners.

On Sunday, the team visited the Mala Compra Trails (I've also heard it called HOBOS Trails) which was designed as a mountain bike trail.  I am not much of a biker, and I really have no idea how many trails like this exist in Florida, but I can say that I have never seen anything like it.  The trails twist and turn, rise and fall suddenly and constantly for the five and a half mile wooded loop. 

A few miles in, I got separated from the others since it was mostly the men's team.  I ended up exploring most of the trails alone.  Somehow I ran my first loop in about thirty minutes, so I clearly took a wrong turn somewhere.  It was difficult to get my bearings because of all of the little twists and turns, but on my second loop I eventually ended up on the other side of the park by a road and another entrance where a large map was posted.  Once I took a look at the image, it all made sense.  I hopped on the large and generally straight hiking trail and made my way back to the start. 

The run ended up being around 10. 5 miles, which was a little short, but my legs and hips certainly felt it.  It was a unique, fun, and challenging run.  I recommend going with a few people who are around your speed so that you can stick together and enjoy the crazy course.  It's great for distances from 5-8 miles, but a bit repetitive for much more than that.  Even though it was relatively hot outside, the trail stayed cool because it is completely shaded by oaks.  I can imagine that it would be very nice in the summer, as well.

Here is a video of someone biking the trail.  You can get an idea of how crazy parts of it are.

At the end of the weekend, it was sad to see everyone go.  Even though I had just met these people,  I felt like I knew them well.  We have many, many shared experiences, from running the same old routes, to trying Celebrex for hip pain, and ultimately knowing what it is like to be part of something so unique.  Only these few people know what it is like to wake up every day and be a member of this cross country team.  I am very excited to be racing with them next year and keeping in touch until then.

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