This wind-chapped smile plastered across my face is a result of finishing the Freakin’ Eurekan 15k (9 miles) trail run in early February at Lake Leatherwood near Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
My training schedule called for a 9-mile run. A runner-friend and co-worker suggested the Freakin’ Eurekan as an option. It was only $35 to enter. The location was a scenic, one-hour drive from home and the race distance was perfect. Done. I was in. Race morning arrived with a temperature of 17° F and a north wind gusting to 20 mph.
Despite the stinging winds sweeping across Lake Leatherwood, 90 runners arrived early Saturday morning, checked in and hustled back to the warmth of car heaters. As race time approached we gathered at the starting line, most of us wearing hats, gloves and sensible layers of high-tech fabric. Others wore only running shorts and light-weight shirts. The race was on.
Trail running is as different from road running as mountain biking is from road biking. The trail was rocky and root-covered. There were a number of boulder-strewn creek crossings before and after steep ascents and descents. Rocky sections were ice-covered where rain water froze on the mountain days before.
Negotiating steep climbs and descents required cautious footing and concentration as the race continued. The challenging 9-mile course ended with a significant mile-and-a-half climb straight up a steep mountain and ultimately, straight down to the finish line. By then, weather was hardly a factor compared to the leg stress of steep climbing on rocky terrain.
I was glad to be finished. I got the t-shirt and a fantastic hour and forty minute training run in preparation for my March half marathon. I’m still smiling. It was a fun test of will and skill. Plus, it’s fun to say: I ran the Freakin’ Eurekan!