The early morning was gray and foggy as we took the ramp on I-30 west heading to Arkadelphia for the DeGray Lake Trail Run. The clouds were gathering, blocking out the sun. The skies opened and the heavens poured rain as if a faucet had been turned on. I was in the passenger seat, fumbling with my iPhone, checking the weather. Looking at the huge glob of green that looked as if it was targeting a line along I-30 I hoped that one of the gaps in the green would hang out over Iron Mountain for an hour or two for the run. The heavy rain slowed to a sprinkle as we arrived in Arkadelphia, maybe we’d get lucky.
Runners willing to hit the trails in the rain may be slightly more rare than those willing to do it in fair weather but we arrived to find several friends already at the trail head, waiting for the start. The route would be a 3.7 mile figure eight and there was time to take a lap on the upper loop just to check on the trail conditions. It was wet from the early rain but draining well.
The race would begin on the road a couple of hundred yard south of the trail head parking lot to allow the runners to spread out before hitting the single track. As shoe tread hit the dirt, we were on a smooth track with a general downward flow. After an uphill switchback, the crux of the figure eight would provide a water station as we continued on to a new section of the Iron Mountain system. This part of the trail has only been open for about a month and I was distracted from my run by thoughts of getting my bike tires on these trails. Bermed turns, free ride jump ramps and flow, it’s going to be great riding and a wonderful addition to an already incredibly fun trail. Passing the water station again, there was just about a mile left of the race and up ahead I could see a few runners in the turns start to speed up just a bit so I had to try to keep up. I started to hear cowbell. I knew that meant Chad Cragle was up ahead, cheering runners. Was he at the finish line? Surely the finish wasn’t that close. It wasn’t. About 2 tenths of a mile before the finish line, Chad had perched himself upon a stump and was enthusiastically ringing the bell and yelling at runners to catch the person in front of them. And encouraging the person behind to “GET” that person in front. Everyone needs a little push at the end.
The rain had held off for everyone to finish. That’s when I decided to take a warm down lap trying to fit in some mileage for my training. Apparently the weather luck couldn’t hold and it soon began to pour buckets again. I returned to the parking lot soaking wet and tired.
Here is a little video to see some of the fun you may have missed.
Thanks to DLT Events for organizing this race. Race #4 of the Arkansas Trail Series is in two weeks at Burns Park in North Little Rock, see you there.