Night Moves Trail Races

Night Moves Half Marathon was held September 12 at Stephen F. Austin State Park near Sealy, Texas.  With race time scheduled for 8pm I arrived at the
park entrance shortly after 7:00 and took advantage of the free runner shuttle to the start line.  The atmosphere was alive.  The race was billed as a night race with a disco flair and the runners were ready.

I found a place to set up my chair near the perimeter.  Before races, I like to watch the scene, relax my body and focus on the upcoming effort.  With gear ready and a headlamp check I took a few moments to visit the Altra footwear table.  The representative had the new Altra Lone Peak 2.5’s and I lusted over them.  I’ve wanted to try them on for quite some time, but had not yet found a store to do so.  I received a pair of new Altra socks for my visit and left thinking of my Night Moves Start Areaupcoming trip to Utah where I hoped to stop by the Altra headquarters.

Runners lined up at the start and took my typical position in the upper half mark.  The course would be four loops of 3+ miles.  Run entirely in the dark, my Petzle Nao was a great choice.  It lights up the trail and everyone in it.  The race included 5K and 10K runners, many of whom were likely running their first night trail race. Some had handheld flashlights and others had simple hat clip on lights.  When I would come up on them, lighting up the world, it would make me think they didn’t have a light at all.  One pair of runners exclaimed, “I want your light!” followed by the other saying, “Forget the light, I want his legs” as I flew by.

The route was a fun course.  It was generally flat with dips and bumps typically not higher/lower than four feet.  There were several locations where water was running across the trail.  Two could be leaped over and two others required running through.  I was happy to discover that I could slap my feet down hard and quickly high step through the longest water course without getting water into my shoes!  That was fun.  However, on the fourth loop water did penetrate the toe box.

Besides the water, there were also a couple stretches of mud.  This mud was the slick, greasy kind that allowed no traction and only caked your feet with additional weight as you skated through the mud.  It wasn’t until next morning when I looked at my shoes in the light did I discover how much mud remained even after running on final jeep road stretch with mud chucks flying off.  I wore my Salomon Mantra 2 and they performed well. I really like their wash up ability.  A couple minutes of yard hose spray and they looked clean as new.

Night Moves Trail Races Finishers MedalMay favorite memory of race was flying through the start/finish line giving high fives to kids along the rope.  In the middle of the party atmosphere, they called out my name.  For the following mile, I struggled to figure out how they knew my name.  I didn’t bring any supporters to the race, how did they know me?  I eventually figured out that the race director had the chip reader show the runner’s name on a monitor. The kids were having fun calling out names as we flew through the checkpoint!
At the finish, the scene was electric.  Trail Racing Over Texas had disco balls and black lights at the finish line and fun 70-80’s dance music playing. The swag t-shirts and finisher’s medal glowed in the dark.  I thanked the race director for a great race and consumed a sandwich from the food truck onsite.  I changed my shoes and packed my stuff, taking the shuttle back to my car near the entrance to the park.

It was a fun event and I was happy with my performance.  It was my way to prime for the upcoming 50 miler just two weeks away.

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