I spent the last week in Michigan, vacationing with family. Not one to miss a running opportunity, I tweeted to Derek, the Michigan Pace Per Mile Reporter. He suggested a Michigan Half Series race for the weekend I would be in town. I checked out the race. It was a trail race! And, in Mt. Pleasant, where I went to undergrad. Yay! I signed up right away and secured a running friend.
On Saturday, May 26, 2012, my friend from high school and I ran the RTOG Trail Run. The race took place in Deerfield County Park in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Deerfield Park is a great park facility way out in the Michigan countryside. It was one of my favorite running destinations in undergrad, so I was delighted to be back. The race was organized by Hackett Event Management. Ryan, the race director, organized a great race. At race time the weather was rainy, cool, and wet. It had been pouring all night, with thunderstorms and heavy rain. It was muddy, and rained off and on throughout the race. Trail runners are a hardy crowd, not easily discouraged by mud and rain, so there was a nice sized group at race time – and even some day-of-race registrants. You can count on trail runners to be out there sloshing along in all conditions.
In this mini race recap, I’ll present the highlights from the 2012 RTOG Trail Race.
The trail was excellent! Deerfield Park has miles and miles of wonderful trails. The ones Ryan selected for his race went past the mighty Chippewa River (a favorite tubing location due to its clear, cool water), around a marshy area, and through fern-covered forest. The trails were well groomed, sandy, and easy to navigate. My friend, a road runner, did well on the trail. It wasn’t technical and we were able to run two across nearly the whole time.
The event was well organized. Despite crazy rain and lots of mud, the trail was easy to find and navigate. There were very clear trail markers at every turn, and helpful signs along the straightaways to let runners know they were on the right track. The event included a 5k, 10k, and half marathon distance races. The 5k was one loop on a trail, the 10k was 1.5 loops, and the half was 3.5 loops.
At the loop intersection a very friendly and supportive volunteer helped runners navigate the loops, making sure everyone headed in the right direction at the right time. This race was well-marked for a road race. For a trail race, it was outstanding! The courses passed through a nice covered bridge, up a few decent hills, and through a variety of different running surfaces. The terrain was varied and interesting.
Ryan himself greeted finishers at the finish line. Despite having three events with the same start and finish, he had it all organized well. At the finish, there were snacks (bananas, water, energy drink, hot dogs, and the best monster cookies EVER). For age group winners there were nice prizes of gift cards to a local running store. Everyone who entered got a sparkly headband.
Did I mention that they had the best monster cookies ever?
All in all, I loved the RTOG Trail Run. I would recommend Hackett Event Management and the Michigan Trail Series to anyone who lives in the central Michigan area (Bay City, Midland, Mt. P, Saginaw). There are several races, both road and trail, coming up. Find out more on the Michigan Half Series website or Facebook page.
Results of the RTOG Trail Run can be found here.