Radnor Red Steeplechase 5K

Woohoo!  First obstacle race COMPLETE!  This morning Matt and I ran the Radnor Red Steeplechase 5K at Radnor Hunt in Malvern, PA.  The event web site proclaims that this is “NOT YOUR ORDINARY 5K RACE!” and they aren’t kidding!  The course included multiple horse jumps, ditches, and three trips through muddy, mucky water jumps.  What fun!

Water Jump #1 - we went straight through that muck and up the bank!

I spent hundreds of hours of my childhood on the grounds of Radnor Hunt.  In the 90s I was a proud member of Radnor Hunt Pony Club and I used to love dashing around and jumping over the horse jumps on foot after finishing up on horseback.  (I’m pretty sure this is why I became a hurdler once I started running track.)  I must admit, however, that clearing the jumps today was harder than I remembered… probably because as a kid I wasn’t also running a 5K in between the obstacles!

Today’s course was challenging, with steep hills and tall grass (and jumps, obviously).  By now I’ve done a few XC races but it still surprises me how much harder it is to run on grass than pavement, especially with soaking wet shoes!  Nevertheless, I ran hard and felt pretty positive throughout the entire race.  I’ve been doing speed workouts on the track for 3 weeks in a row now and I kept finding myself thinking in terms of track intervals like, at the halfway-ish point: “only 3 x 800s left to go… I can do that!” or, at the .25 to go mark, “just one more lap!!”  Despite feeling really tired on some of the steep uphill climbs, I was happily surprised at the finish as I kicked it in with what felt like a whole new level of speed than I am used to having at the end of a race.

I finished with a chip time of 27:49, 26th out of 265 women and 5th in my age group.  Matt finished in 27:05, 91st out of 289 men and 6th in his age group.  We agreed after the race that the hardest obstacle was by far the sequence where we ran into a water jump (deeper than the one shown above), then had to climb out of the water up a ~3 ft. bank before going over an enormous log jump.  That’s the one jump I actually sat on in the process of climbing over… it was big (and wet and muddy from everyone’s waterlogged shoes!)  I definitely gained a new appreciation for horses on today’s XC course.  🙂

Our next race will be the Firehouse Pickle in the Streets on August 28th.  This is a prediction format race where you guess your time in advance and then there’s a beer garden and BBQ afterwards.  Oh, and the course is fast, flat and ON PAVEMENT!  🙂 Looking forward to it!

Miles since last post:  72.5
Days since last post:  14
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.82
2014 TOTAL MILES: 1095


Related Posts:
•  Riddlewood Swim Club 5K (8/3/14)
•  Swarthmore Lions Independence Eve 8K (7/18/14)
•  Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10/14)
•  Media 5 Miler (6/20/14)
•  Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1/14)
•  Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30/14)
•  Run for Victory 5K (5/18/14)
•  Elwyn 5K (5/3/14)
•  St. Tim’s 5K (4/26/14)
•  Rick’s Run 5K (4/19/14)
•  Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/14)
•  Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4/14)
•  New Year’s Eve 5K at the YMCA (12/31/13)
•  Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14/13)
•  Turkey Trot 5K (11/28/13)
•  Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2/13)
•  Oy Vey 5K (10/27/13)
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19/13)
•  Run-A-Muck 5K (9/21/13)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Kirkwood Preserve

Guess what?  In 2 hours I will be running in my first distance race since 1999!!!  The 5K is hosted by Willistown Conservation Trust, a local non-profit land preservation organization in Willistown Township, Pennsylvania.  To prepare for the race I’ve been running like crazy on my treadmill AND, because the real world isn’t as flat and smooth as a treadmill, Matt and I have also been hiking (and sometimes jogging) in lots of local parks and preserves.

This week in honor of the upcoming race we visited Willistown Conservation Trust’s Kirkwood Preserve.

Kirkwood PreserveKirkwood features 83 acres of grasslands along a stretch of the picturesque Crum Creek.  The preserve has been classified as an “Important Bird Area,” meaning that you’re likely to see some endangered grassland birds on your hike.  More importantly (for me, at least) this also means that dogs are strictly prohibited from all areas of the preserve.

Kirkwood Tree

I actually have a very personal connection to the rolling hills of Kirkwood Preserve because I grew up about 2 miles away from here.  When my brother and I were kids we would walk here from our house with my mom all the time.  This was back before the land was preserved (it was just a cow farm then) and we spent hours and hours of our childhoods here hiking, playing, cross-country skiing, fishing, picnicing… you name it!  With all of those memories in mind it was really neat to come here with Matt and see that the land is still here and open to all.  (Of course the barbed-wired cow fences are all gone and the fields are full of natural grasses now, but that’s fine with me!)  Here are some photos from our walk:

Kirkwood Preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset and has well-mowed walking trails.  We did the outer loop on our visit and our total walk was just shy of 2 miles.  The only access to the preserve is via the gravel parking lot on Grubbs Mill Road.

Kirkwood Map

OK… time for Matt and me to start stretching and getting ready for the race!  Here’s my running tally as of yesterday evening:

Miles since last post:  60.2
Days since last post:  11
Average Daily Miles since July 18th: 5.56

Wish us luck at 4pm…!  🙂

Kirkwood Jump

Other local hikes, parks, and preserves:

Ridley Creek State Park (Edgmont Township, PA)
Okehocking Preserve (Willistown Township, PA)
Darlington Trail (Middletown Township, PA)
Linvill Trail (Middletown Township, PA)
Stroud Preserve, (West Chester, PA)