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Race Result

Racer: Aaron Schwartzbard
Race: Cross County Trail Fatass 50K
Date: Sunday, March 16, 2003
Location: Fairfax, VA
Race Type: Run - 50 km
Age Group: Male 25 - 29
Time: 4:34:12
Overall Place: 1
Comment: 1st overall, 27 starters, 21 finishers

Race Report:

Hmm, race report... Okay, how bout this: The morning was blustery. The sun rose over a distant horizon to illuminate the waiting faces of the world-class athletes who comprised the field. Clearly, I'd have to go out hard from the beginning --- I'd have to take no mercy as I went for the kill...

Oh, no, wait... Wrong race report. Ahh, here's the right report:

In the middle of last week, I decided that since my run up Whistler had been preempted, I needed some other long run in the near future. I decided to do a Fat Ass 50K on the Cross County Trail (CCT) this weekend. (The Cross County Trail runs across Fairfax, VA. It's a 40 mile trail, but due to construction, this year's run was shortened to 50K.) It's a small, low-key thing, and there were only about 30 folks running.

The CCT is actually not a single trail. Rather, it seems that at some point someone realized that if you cut across a stream here, and run a few miles along a busy road there you could link up a bunch of trail to get from the south end of the county to the north end. Thus, the course description, as a single-spaced computer printed narrative was four pages long. "Go 100 yards along the stream then turn left under the power lines, and when the main trail goes to the right, turn left on the smaller trail and look for the orange ribbons."

Really, this was more of a "long run" than a "race." At the beginning, I tried running with a guy who said he knew the course, but since I felt like going a bit faster and since I didn't want to push someone else to go faster than what felt comfortable, I went ahead. After about two miles, I had to stop to try to decide whether I was supposed to go left or right. After about a minute of deliberating with myself(ez), I heard someone yell "GO LEFT." I decided that I might as well be a little social, and wait for him. He knew the next 10 miles of the course, which was rather helpful.

Eventually, we reached a portion that neither of us knew. We took a couple wrong turns, but never got very far off course. He was starting to fade, so I would end up running ahead about 50 meters, then I'd stop to read the course description, and wait for him to catch up.

Near the end, the course passes about a mile from my house. Once I got to trails that I knew, I just took off. Run run run... It was a nice stretch to be able to run for several miles without fear of getting lost. After that section, we had six miles that were new to me. Once again, I'd have to stop every once in a while to try to decide if I was lost. At one point, I ended up going down a long hill, then decided I had taken a wrong turn. I climbed back up the hill, then stood at the intersection trying to match the course description with my surroundings. "GO LEFT," yelled someone. It was the guy I had been running with earlier. We were back on a section of course he knew. So I waited for him to reach me, then we took off. After about 50 meters, I realized that even though I was trying to take it easy, I was pushing the pace faster than he wanted to go. I took off, and in another half mile, reached another intersection that I couldn't figure out based on the course description. So I waited. And waited, and waited. I ended up taking a seat and relaxing for a minute or two. Once the guy caught up, he pointed me in the right direction. Again, I tried running with him, but again, I decided we'd both be better off if I went on my own.

The finish is in Great Falls Park, which is in a pretty high-income area of town. I knew I was getting close to the end when I started seeing all the collared shirts and khakis. I said to myself, "these people would not walk very far." So then I jogged over to the visitor center and stopped my watch. After a couple of minutes, I found some folks who were waiting for someone else who was doing the run, and who were watching over the clipboard with the sheet where we were to record our finishing times. So we chatted. Then the guy with whom I had been running arrived. Eventually, more folks started to finish (the next finishers were 45 minutes back). We had a nice little gathering with food and drink and merriment in the park. The end.