Before I get into all the squirrelly details about this race, can we stop for a moment and reflect on how awesome the running community is? I have some pretty awesome friends, and when they suggest I sign up for a race, I usually jump on the chance. Immediately after I sign up I usually get this “what did I just do” feeling, and along comes self-doubt and all the other little things that I tell myself in an effort to sabotage my results on race day. I know, I’m horrible, but stay with me.
All that being said, after “The Frozen Snot“, when my friends suggested running Squirrelly Tail, I thought a nice half marathon in the woods seemed like a good time. So I signed up and like most runners shared my excitement on Facebook. Before any self-doubt crept in, the vast array of running friends I have all chimed in with the same excitement having signed up to run as well. At that moment, I was feeling pretty good, having a nice handful of people running the event there that I know gave a much-needed boost to my confidence. Running Community Awesomeness, Check!
To make the deal even cooler, the day before the race, my local running club buddies reached out and mentioned they were going as well. Carpool anyone? Heck yes! Running Community Awesomeness, Double Check!
Held at the Gifford Pinchot State Park, Squirrelly Tail is an amazing awesome half marathon through the wonders of rich Pennsylvania landscape. As unpredictable as Pennsylvania is, the course is muddy, frozen, wet, boggy, dry, rocky, dirty, woodsy, icy, rocky… you name it. Welcome to Penn’s Woods!
The race began at 10am, which is a little odd of a starting time for me since I know I’ll be running through lunch, and I already have much to learn about fueling before/during/after a race. Start time aside, I decided to stick with what works for me, my peanut butter protein shake around 7am, a snack of almonds around 9:30am… so far so good. Also, I realize I’m a Nuun Ambassador, and the time will come for full product reviews and so-on, but for now, I decided to use up the last of my Tailwind Nutrition. After all, I’m sticking with what I know. Hydration aside, I packed some Honey Stinger goodies: chews, waffles, and gels – but I know I’ll probably be eating those post race on the ride home.
As we gathered around the port-o-john before the race and starting line, I saw all my friends, I recognized my friend’s Mom (who played a major role in marking the course), my friend and his wife (who continuously encourage me to sign up for “fun” races) and all my running club buddies – it felt like more of a fun time than an actual race. Running Community Awesomeness, Triple Check!
The race course is 13 miles through trails wide and narrow, some parts frozen, some parts mud, some parts snow. It’s your typical completely unpredictable February Pennsylvania day. At the start, I have to laugh at how every tip-toed around the mud and water crossings – as the miles increase your level of giving a f**k decreases and you find yourself barrelling through any and all obstacles.
Here’s my dumb face at one section of mud near mile 10ish where no f**ks are given. In my head, I kept hearing, just keep running. And so I did.
I’m going to be honest, I went into this race with zero expectations, other than to just have fun and enjoy my time on the trails. And that’s exactly what I did. In the beginning, I blew past a lot of people, and as humbling as trail running is, a handful of them passed me along the way later down the trail only to finish way ahead of me – and that’s okay. I enjoyed the ups and downs of the trails and the beautiful scenery on the way. I even snapped a picture during a full-blown runner’s high. Squirrelly Tail, it was a great time.
In the end, I crossed the finish line at 2 hours 49 minutes and 52 seconds. Not too shabby for just having fun, and to make it even better the legend Dave Strine was there serving up hot dogs! Let me tell you, after spending almost 3 hours on the trail in the mud and gunk, that complimentary hot dog and chili was the best meal I could ask for!
If you’re looking for a good time, low entry fees, no fuss, pure trail running race, Squirrelly Tail Twail Wun should definitely be on your list!
Where do I stand on this race’s overall rating?
Check out my BibRave review here: KEN STANDS ON THINGS