I showed up over an hour early to a parking lot, seeminlgly in the middle of nowhere, outside of Birkerød. I had no idea if I was near the race start, but then saw two women get out of their car in running clothing.
As I walked over to them, I couldn't help but noticing their conversation: "I heard there is a famous American woman running in this race. I've read lots about her. She has a blog." The other one then says "I think I saw her on tv the other day". The other woman interjects "no, I don't think that was her".
My head grew a couple of sizes. I asked them if they were here for the race, trying to hide my American accent, but to no avail. Of course, when I turned around and saw Kara Goucher, my head shrunk to a much smaller size than before. Okay, I'm kidding about Kara Goucher.
As I warmed up and saw the race markers, I realized that we would not actually be running on trails, but just straight through the woods. And up steep, steep hills. Mountains by Danish standards. Everything was wet and muddy from rain that morning and I had only brough my Ecco Bioms (there are few shoes on the maket with less tread), thinking this would be on regular and untechincal trails. I was very wrong and of course regretted my choice of shoes.
The race had two distances: 5k and 10k. Then there was an additional prize for the first man and woman to sprint up to the top of the first and highest "mountain". The top was after 500 meters. Two days before I had run miles in 6:02, 5:58 and 6:19 (it was a brief interaval session - and okay, I took a brief break half way in the first two :() and was feeling confident I could win the moutain sprint AND the 10k. Jakob, who would also be running, kind of rolled his eyes at the start line as I indicated I wanted to win both. He said (and SR said) it was a bad way to start a 10k.
At the start line, I was right next to the local favorite female, Rikke Nygaard Monrad. She was running the 5k and looked to be in her mid 20's. I knew I had very little chance of beating her, but I almost false started, tripping and stopping myself right before the gun, so excited to simply TRY to beat her (perhaps this gives away how few people there were there that some females also lined up in the front).
We took off and I passed Rikke after about 200 meters. The crowd was yelling her name. It was exciting. We really battled up that mountain and I actually may have sort of elbowed her off of track at some point. I know, I am 31, not 5. There were only 2-3 men ahead of us and then with 50 meters to go, she pulled ahead. Here she was, just after the top.
(thanks to Helle Holm Clausen for this and the next 7 photos)
And here I come, now feeling incapable of running one more step. That's Jesper and Jakob close behind.
But that little mountain was just the beginning. Here are Jesper and Jakob from the back, shortly after they had pulled ahead of me for good. I was in really sorry shape.
I think this gives a fair idea of the terrain. We would not actually run on the muddy trail, but simply over it into more hilly forest (oh yeah, that is me there).
Here was the altitude change over the first and second 5k.
There were also areas simply over large holes in the forest floor where one would slide in and then crawl out again on hands and knees.
I came through the first 5k in 29:20 minutes, with Lene and Mette (a Mette I didn't know beforehand) close behind. The 10k consits of simply running the fist 5k again. Since I saw they both had their eyes on me, I sprinted again, thinking this would be a good scare tactic: making them believe I was full of energy. Sounds stupid, but it worked in the sense that I made myself believe I had lots of energy. I ran the second 5k much smarter and right behind a guy who basically picked a good path through the woods and made my run a lot easier. I came in through the second 5k in 29:29, which is without a doubt the most even 10k split of my life. I was thrilled!!!
I took first place for the women in the 10k with a time of 58:49. Here I am with Rikke, who took first in the 5k in 27:13 (and won the mountain sprint, in case you forgot).
We won a 300 koner ($65) gift certificate to a running store. Rikke also won a t-shirt for the mountain sprint.
Here I am with Lene, who took 3rd despite a wicked sinus infection. Lene, I'm sorry, I know this isn't the best picture of you!
Lene then convinced me to take a picture of Jesper's and my shoes.
It is hard to imagine a more challenging 10k unless one ran in real mountains. It was absolutely a wonderful race, which I hope can continue next year. Here is the race website with results.
Helle happens to live a 5 minute walk from the race start. She had Jesper, Jakob, Lene and I over for a really nice Facebook Løbeklub lunch afterwards. I made a broccoli salad, which I thought was a fool-proof thing to make, but perhaps I was wrong. Luckily, I brought some good brie.
Sorry, no music today!