One of the many beautiful views along the course.
Dirty German 25K was my second Uberendurance race this year. Dirty German offers three race distances. I had originally signed up to run the 50K, but I was questioning my decision when I realized that the race fell just 6 days before I would be taking on the challenging course at the Worlds End 50K. Fortunately, I had several friends who decided to run the 25K, which allowed me the excuse to drop down to the shorter race distance.
Dirty German takes place at Pennypack Park. I arrived at the race start around 7:30am, which gave me an opportunity to watch the 50 mile runners take off for their race. I then stopped by to pick up my bib and sweatshirt and then joined a few friends who were relaxing under a nearby tree. I love the laidback atmosphere at the start of most trail races. It is such a refreshing change from running on the roads. We chatted a bit, watched the 50K runners start their race at 8am, and then prepared ourselves for our own race start at 8:30.
About two minutes before the start, we ambled over to the starting line, received a couple of brief notes from the race director, and then we were off. Dirty German starts on the same course as Sloppy Cuckoo, which was wonderfully reassuring, as I have run Cuckoo the past two years. I like knowing what to expect in a trail, especially early on in a race. The small field quickly spread out, and my friend and I settled into a comfortable pace.
So happy to celebrate my running buddy’s return to racing after a tough winter battling health issues.
I usually like to describe the race course in depth, but to be honest, my memory’s not as sharp on this one as it usually is. Because the race course overlapped with Cuckoo’s course at both the start, and near the finish, it was difficult for me to distinguish exactly what parts were the same and what parts were different.
On the whole, I found the Dirty German course to be a bit easier than Cuckoo, which was backed up when I realized that even at the relatively easy feeling pace, we were running close to 10 min/miles. Dirty German covers a lot of relatively flat, smooth single track trails, which makes it a wonderful introduction to trail racing for beginners who are making the transition from the roads. This year, the course had to detour slightly due to some bridge construction, which added an extra two-ish miles on the paved trails in the park. All told, I think we were only on the paved section for 4-5 miles total, but it felt like we were running there FOREVER. I guess I’ve officially converted to trails when I find myself complaining about a straight, flat paved section of the course. 😉
Even the paved portions of the course were beautiful.
We hit three aid stations along the 25K course, and they were wonderfully stocked, as they always are at Uberendurance events. Really, the volunteers at these races are top-notch. At the last aid station, there was a little confusion, as runners from all three distances were pulling into the station, but then turning in different directions to leave. A few minutes after leaving that station, I was surprised to see one of the volunteers sprint by me with a jug of water in his hand. I was completely confused until I realized that he was trying to redirect a 50-mile runner who had mistakenly made the wrong turn. The girl had headphones in, and he had to tap her shoulder before he could get her attention. Talk about a dedicated volunteer!
Entering the “roller coaster” section, my favorite trails along the course.
One of the best sounds in a race has to be when you can hear the finish line party. In true Uberendurance fashion, we had an accordion playing us into the finish. We raced across the grass, happily crossing in just under 3 hours, a really solid run for a race that was supposed to be just for fun. I happily collected my new pint glass, and returned to my blanket for some post-race stretching and snacks.
I’m not sure if it was my familiarity with the Pennypack trails, my increased fitness level after a winter of hard running, or a combination of both, but I was pleased to realize that this race really felt quite easy to me. As I was returning to my car, I heard a fellow racer complaining that the last four miles were considerably harder than the first eleven. True, the last four did have most of the overall elevation, along with the more technical trails, but compared to what I’ve gotten used to, it really didn’t strike me as hard at all. It was just the confidence booster I needed as I prepared to take on Worlds End.