The Murph 5-Mile Trail Race is run on the Whiskeag Trail here in Bath, Maine. It is run in memory of Lieutenant Michael Murphy, a Navy Seal who was killed in action during the War in Afghanistan. He was the first member of the U.S. Navy since Vietnam to receive the Medal of Honor. In addition to many dedications in his honor, a Naval destroyer, The USS Michael Murphy was built at Bath Iron Works between 2002 and 2010.
I picked up my bib and waited for the last shuttle to take me to the starting line. It was raining pretty hard and I wanted to stay dry as long as possible. I saw a work friend, Tiffany, at the start and we were both surprised to see each other as we didn't know the other was running. Before long the announcements were made and we were off.
The race started on a paved road and up a hill before turning into dirt and then to the trail head. I started a little faster than usual, but I wanted to take advantage of the easier terrain knowing that I'd slow down considerably later because of it. With the exception of a couple of spots, most of the trail was very technical. I knew some of the areas were running next to great views, but there was no way that I could look up from where I was placing my feet or I would have for certain done a face plant. I had to even plan ahead when I could even glance at my watch. Most of the beginning miles were on single track.
|The Murph 5-Mile race course|
I followed close behind one girl for the first mile or so, but she dropped off pace on a hill and I passed. Then I was behind another girl (green shirt) for quite some time. I felt more comfortable seeing where she was running and following her feet than being the one keeping the pace. It seemed to take forever to get to mile two, there was a lot of mud, roots, rocks, and narrow log bridges to navigate.
Just after reaching 2.5 miles we came out of that section of the woods and onto the road. I had passed green shirt girl and another guy I had been following and again took advantage of the flat and wide area to pick up the pace again. We turned and ran along the edge of a horse pasture and back into the woods. I was now following behind yellow shirt guy and followed him for the remainder of the race.
I wondered if I was bothering him my trailing behind, but he was running at a comfortably hard pace and any faster I was sure I'd fall down. At one point he turned his ankle and said I could pass as he was slightly falling off pace, but I felt fine running at his speed and we hadn't slowed by much. He told me that there was a big hill right before we came out of the woods at mile 4.25. I thanked him for the warning and was glad he told me about it and I could focus on catching my breath before getting to it. It was really steep! After the hill we ran on the dirt roads of a cemetery, through some trees and headed down a hill to the finish area at the athletic fields. I remember him saying something like, "we are almost there, but I don't want you to pass me," and I laughed. I really don't think he wanted to be 'chicked' by the girl in a pink skirt. I was thinking I would almost feel bad if I did pass him, I felt that he helped me keep a good pace throughout the second half when I was the most tired. We raced to the finish, me one step behind. It was a bit narrow and there wasn't a great place to pass so I gave him the win. ;-) I have to say this was one of my favorite parts, we were flying. My Garmin stats show that we were moving at a 5:45 pace for the last tenth of a mile.
Yellow shirt guy and I congratulated each other on a great race and I waited to see Tiffany finish. I only saw a couple of women waiting around at the finish, so I was pretty sure I was in the top-10 women.
|Tiffany and me|
Tiffany and I headed up the hill to the American Legion hall for the awards and BBQ they had for the racers. The awards started a bit late, but once they posted the results, I knew I had to stick around.
47:46, 9:34 pace = 2 minute 11 second PR
21st out of 94 overall
4th out of 48 women
1st out of 12 in age group (30-39)
My Garmin measured the course short at 4.86 miles, but looking at the tangents on the map it recorded, all of the tight turns and switchbacks were cut off slightly resulting in a shorter distance than I actually ran.
|I don't know how they stayed relatively clean!|
I would highly recommend this race. I love supporting the races held in my city, not to mention they are convenient to get to! There was support staff through the entire course, even deep in the woods. They would tell us if a slippery or tricky part was coming up or just offer encouragement. I made sure to thank every one I passed. Even though it is incredibly difficult to run fast, the course was a lot of fun and a great challenge. Perhaps if I actually ran on trails more often than twice in the last two decades, I could run faster. The free BBQ was amazing at the end with burgers, hot dogs, homemade potato salad, a fresh garden salad, chips, soda, and BEER! Gotta love free beer! The entry fee is low at only $20 for early registration. A race shirt was extra and there were only a bowling coupon, pencil and peanuts in the reusable swag bag, but for such a low race fee, I don't have any complaints about this. I don't race for the free stuff and I already have a drawer full of race shirts. The dog tag awards are a nice touch, something special, and fitting for a race run in memory of one of America's military heroes. I'm pretty sure I'll be scheduling this into my race lineup next year...I've got to defend my title, right?