I ran the Do it in the Bush 5K at Cottage Hill Park in Mobile Saturday morning. DIITB is one of the few trail races that we have here locally. Cottage Hill Park is actually the place where Daniel and I first met!
The main event of the weekend was Daniel’s triathlon in Auburn on Sunday, but I was able to do this race Saturday morning before we left to head up to Auburn. The race started at 7:30 a.m., which was nice, not only to beat the heat a little bit, but also so that we could go ahead and get on the road a little bit earlier.
We got to the park around 6:45 and I was able to register and go to the bathroom before warming up on the course. I was
a little bit worried about getting lost in the woods and I wanted to make sure that we ran the course beforehand just to make sure I knew what I was doing. I wasn’t sure if I would have anyone to run with, as you never really know who is going to show up on any given day. We talked briefly with Aaron Freesmeier, who marked the course, before the warm up. He gave us some pointers and we set off to see what the trails were like.
We didn’t have any issues at all navigating the course at all! Every single root was marked with orange paint (that must’ve taken a lot of time) and there were lots of arrows, etc. showing you where to go. I definitely noticed that I was working harder than normal to run my “easy” pace on the trails.
The race started off in the parking lot at Cottage Hill Park. It used to start on a soccer field, but apparently there were some “issues” with the course measuring long in the past and they decided to change that up this year. It’s a trail race though, so accuracy really shouldn’t be a huge concern. We were only in the parking lot for the first tenth of a mile or so and then it was to the grass around the baseball field (same as it always has been). We were on the grass for less than a half of a mile before we headed into the trails.
I was in second place overall as we entered the trails. The first place runner almost turned off course not too long after we got on the trails and I passed him briefly as he got his bearings back. I really didn’t want to be leading this thing through the trails, but here we were. At least I knew where I was going! I knew that was going to come in handy.
I led the race through the first mile. The mile split was 6:29. The course winds in and out of the woods a few times during the second mile, but you are primarily on the trails the entire time. I love being in the woods and running on trails! I really wish that we had more trails and more trail races. I can totally see myself turning into one of those crazy ultra trail runners at some point down the road. Ha.
I likely need to invest in a pair of trail shoes though. I wore the Brooks Launch for this race (definitely not a trail shoe) and it worked out fine for a 5K, but if the race had been any longer, I likely would’ve wanted some better shoes. I love the Brooks Launch for road running though (I don’t want them (them being my shoes) to get their feelings hurt, so that seeemed worth mentioning).
I got passed back by the lead runner right around mile two. The mile split was 7:19. I didn’t know the split at the time. I decided during the warm up that I wouldn’t look at the splits since I knew I would likely feel like I was giving more of an effort than the splits showed.
After he passed me, he almost ran off course two more miles in the last mile, but I was able to yell at him and tell him where to go. The last mile took us back into the parking lot for a brief moment, back into the woods and then back on the grass. Lots of varied terrain! I finished a few seconds behind the leader with a time of 20:02.
It should be noted that the course was a tad short, but with a cross country style race, that is to be expected. My watch read 2.95 miles and my pace for the last mile was 6:37.
I LOVED everything about this race! It was such a laid back, fun approach to “racing.” I stayed upright, which is always good. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of my easy run on the trails Sunday in Auburn, but … it happens. I’m already looking for another trail race to do!
Have you ever raced on trails? What was your experience like? If you have any good race recommendations, send them my way!