I’m a little late with this stage’s blog post as I was out and about all of yesterday after finishing the stage. Now, as I drink my coffee and eat my toast before stage 6, I have a chance to write about yesterday’s difficult stage.
Stage 5 is on a ski hill. It’s not a huge ski hill, but it’s still a ski hill. The course is 5 laps of 5.12km per loop. There were some course changes this year, which made it a bit more demanding than it already was.
From the start line, we run through a short flat section, toward the first ascent up a gravel service road. It is long, it is gradual, it is a pain. After reaching the top of the hill, we run along the top briefly, and then nip down into some trails. This section has a straight sandy “down”, and then it winds back up to the top of the hill. Once at the top, it’s back out the way we came in, but instead of heading down the service road, it’s straight down a ski hill. Hang a right at the bottom, run past the start finish area, and then straight UP another ski hill. I didn’t even attempt to run all the way up it this year. I’d run to certain spot just above the bottom and then walk up. After reaching the top of this evil hill, it’s across the top and into some more trails, which of course headed down and then back up, but it was gradual and there were small ups and downs throughout. I like this section. Once out of those trails, run over to another ski hill and run straight down it. At the bottom of this hill was the main change to the route. In past years, we would turn left at the bottom, but this year, it was into the woods to the right. This section contained some narrow boardwalks and trails and was quite flat. The flat didn’t last too long, as after this was another “up” through some trails between hills, but this one was shorter than some others. Once at the top again, run across the hill, and then straight down the final descent, hang a left at the bottom, run between the volleyball courts and the trees, and through the finish chute. Do this 5 times and you’re done.
With the course changes, I didn’t know how my time on this stage would be affected. Last year I ran the stage in 3:01:37, the year before 3:12:08. As I waited for the start of the race, I was hoping for sub 3, but not sure if I could accomplish it. I hoped to run around 35 minutes per lap. As the laps went by, I started thinking that I wanted to start lap #5 at 2 hours and 20 minutes so that I would have 40 minutes left to complete my final lap and have a PB. I did just that. There were some seconds on the clock as well, but when I passed through the start finish to start my bell lap, the clock started with 02:20 and I was very happy about that. I finished the course in 2:57 and change, finishing 3rd female. I also maintain my 3rd position in the overall standings.
Now it’s just about time for me to leave for stage 6, the 10K time trial, so off I go! I will post about the TT later today.