Saturday, November 12, 2011

Arctic Commando Trail Run 2011

For the last three years I have been looking forward to the Arctic Commando Trail Run. "Arctic Commandos" is the nickname of St. Paul Central Sr. High Schools XC Ski Team and for the last four years they have been conducting a trail race at Battle Creek West in which I have participated every year. Since I started blogging, I wrote about it, too (see here). Outside of orienteering I do not participate in any sanctioned running events except for this trail run. I like the low-key atmosphere, the absence of crowds and the challenging terrain. In the past, the 5k loosely followed the ski trails at Battle Creek, occasionally switching to the single-track MTB trails. This year, the Sisu Nordic Ski Foundation worked hard at pulling a sanctioned event to this location and the 2.5 km and 5 km loops were homologated by the International Ski Federation and by the US Ski and Snowboard Association and the runners followed the new loops, benefiting from an additional 20 m of climb. (Ben Popp of Sisu said during last Thursday's Year Round Group that Doing 50k (or 10 laps) at Battle Creek at m will trump the Birkie's 1188 m easily with its 1900 m of climb, though I do not know whether I'd want to do 10 laps of anything, hills or no hills.

Off we go on this beautiful late fall day.
(Photo courtesy of  Ed Swain, available at
It looked like a good crowd again, a new record, according to co-organizer John Kendrick. It's good to see so many young kids participating in physical activity. We lined up across a wide open area just before the finish, as always slightly chaotic. And off we were. One guy took off like a rocket, he ended up winning, a good 7 minutes ahead of me. There were the usual suspects, athletes younger and/or faster than myself, that started to build a distance between me and them. I passed John, with whom I had a friendly rivalry over the previous years. Until now I had been able to keep him at bay.

Working hard to keep the next generation and some competitors closer to my
own age at bay (Photo courtesy of  Ed Swain, available at
One guy passed me confidently on the slight incline early on in the race. I let him go but caught up with him on the next hill. we stayed together on the down hill and when, approaching the next upward slope I heard him mutter "what, another hill?" I knew he wasn't going to be serious competition, since this was just the third out of seven or eight serious climbs. During the next climb, one of the young 2-milers challenged me. He looked like 10 and when I checked the results, he turned out to be eleven. We ran together till the split, he having the advantage climbing and me, taking it back on the downhills, thanks to my longer legs. He will doubtlessly have a career in xc running and track, a talented athlete.

I did the initial 2.5 km at a 4:34 pace, then I stared slowing down and that's when John K overtook me. I could not keep up and regretfully had to let him go. I finished in 26:06, with a pace of 4:58. As usual during peak efforts like this I started suffering from a runny nose. But it felt good to have participated, Improving my pace over that of previous years, in spite of the added climb and the slightly longer course. If there was a regret, it was not having Colin's (my older son) classmates cheering me on from the sidelines. They have all graduated from Central ...

The results are available at, as are a series of photos of the event.

Link to all Arctic Commando trail runs.

No comments: