Apparently, I’ve become an Uberendurancesports junkie. Last year, I ran their 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut Marathon in June, and the Sloppy Cuckoo 12 Hour in October. This year, I signed up for the Naked Bavarian Marathon after convincing myself that it would be a great training run. I’m also signed up for 3 more of their races in the next 6 months. They put on well-organized races, on fun trails, with great aid stations, at an awesome price. It’s hard to beat that.
In any case, last Sunday I ran the Naked Bavarian Marathon. Don’t get too excited – the “naked” refers to the no frills aspect of the race, not anyone who actually ran sans clothing. I signed up several months ago, but found myself with a lack of motivation the day before the race. It was the first time I was facing a marathon alone in several years, and that, coupled with the knowledge that my family was not planning to attend, made it hard to get excited. Fortunately I reached out to several running friends online, who reminded me that sometimes it’s important to just go out and run for yourself. Armed with that thought, I organized all of my running gear and nutrition the night before and crawled into bed.
I awoke in the morning quite refreshed, and set about with my pre-run routine. The race was a little over an hour away, so I enjoyed my oatmeal breakfast in the car as I made my way to the start. One of my favorite things about trail races is how chill things are at the start. I arrived about an hour early, parked, and then got out to use the bathroom and pick up my race bib. I took it as a good sign that I had such a fun race number. Superstitious, I know, but it made me feel better about the race. I returned to my car, where I spent the next 30 minutes relaxing and staying warm. Naked Bavarian had three different race distances that started at staggered times, and I had the opportunity to watch the badass 40-mile runners start their race. After making sure that my hydration pack was properly stocked, I strapped it on, locked the car, and headed to the marathon start with just ten minutes to go. At the start, I briefly caught up with my friend, Nicole, who was running the 20-miler and listened to a few brief instructions from the race director. Then just like that, we were off.
My awesome race number
The race course was fantastic. We started with some rolling hills through the woods, ran across beautiful open fields, and then returned to the woods. I found myself behind a pack of five runners who were clearly together and knew what they were doing. Whenever we approached a significant incline, they would slow and hike until the trail leveled out again. I decided to just tag along and let them set the pace, and I think this was one of the keys to success for me in this race, as it kept me from going out too fast in the early miles.
Some of the great open fields that we traveled through
The course was a 6-mile stretch out, at which point the marathons split from those who were running 20 or 40 miles. We did a 6.2 mile loop, before rejoining the rest of the group for a 7 mile loop and the final 6 miles back to the finish. I found that having the course divided into 4 different sections really helped me out mentally, as I chose to just focus on one section at a time. It was also a nice boost rejoining the main race about halfway through, as it gave us a chance to chase down some of the 20-milers who had gotten ahead of us. The course had several impressive climbs and plenty of rolling hills, but it was surprisingly runnable throughout. We were fortunate that our mild winter had left the trails a bit muddy in spots, but otherwise in good condition.
By the time I made it to the final 6 mile stretch back home, we began to pass the first of the 40-miler runners who were heading back out for their second loop of the whole course. This ended up being one of my favorite aspects of this race, as the vast majority of the runners were happy to cheer one another on and offer up high fives or words of encouragement as they passed. There was never a feeling to me of anyone being “better” than anyone else because of the distance that they were running. Rather, it was just a big group of people who all love being out on the trails and wanted to celebrate that feeling.
The hills in the final few miles seemed to have grown and multiplied, as hills often due in the late stages of a race, but I hiked up them as best I could and was happy that I felt strong enough to run all of the flatter stretches at a good pace. I managed to cruise in for a 5:12 finish, which put me exactly in the middle of the pack. As this was my first trail marathon, I wasn’t sure what to expect for a finishing time, and I was pleasantly surprised with the results, especially after learning that the overall elevation hovered around 2500 ft.
The volunteers at this race were fantastic, as I’ve experienced at every Uberendurance event that I’ve run. The aid stations were spaced about every 3-4 miles, and they contained not only the standard water and Gatorade, but all kinds of delicious treats that one could want along a race course. Coke, Twizzlers, potato chips, oranges, and M&Ms were all available, along with my favorite treat – boiled potatoes that you could dip in salt. There was also a delicious spread at the finish line, which included pasta, grilled cheese, potato pancakes, cookies, and more. The low entrance fee meant that there were no t-shirts or medals passed out, but we did receive cool bottle openers as a finisher treat.
Stephan puts on top notch events, and this was another win. I can’t say enough good things about this race. In fact, I had so much fun that I’m thinking of adding Blues Cruise 50K to my fall lineup, as it features many of the same trails. If you’re looking for an early season event, I highly recommend Naked Bavarian!