Contemplating how to add trail racing to your snowshoe racing and road racing calendar? Here’s how: pick an event like the Harmon Farms 10 Mile, enter, and go at it. If you’re not yet ready or confident for the ten, sign-up for the popular one loop option for an invigorating five miles. Don’t share this with anyone, but I can reveal to you the trick to running or racing trails: Do it . . . once. Once is generally all that is necessary to hook you for at least the next decade. After that, you’re on your own.
Harmon Farms is a metro park in the south Twin Cities area, an easy drive. It’s a Sunday start, which works well for some to be able to add this date to a schedule. Then, and importantly, the race is run on undulating dirt trails that challenge but don’t bend one over in mountain agony. Yet these paths provide a mini-version of how distance on non-paved paths is different from pavement or concrete.
The two-loop 10-mile version is my suggestion though the 5-mile is the bigger pull for entrants. Ten miles will teach one far more in experience than just twice the five-mile length; one can find clues on hydration that would not show in a 5 km race for example. Chafing that might not occur in a 25 km road race can show on the trail. It’s the turning, climbing and declines creating a different feel than just highway miles.
Further, one of the biggest surprises for road racers making their first start on dirt is the different “feel” of trail racers. It’s not that the competition wanes, not at all, some of the top road racers have added trails to their résumé, but rather the natural environment somehow brings out the “better angels of our mercy” as Abe Lincoln once called it. Located in a mini-forest even near a major metro one forgets about the real world, becoming totally engrossed with the scenery, the woodsy smells, the narrow trails at times, the twists and turns that highways just don’t have.
Harmon Farms has a feel somewhat like a mini Superior Hiking Trail without the ultimate difficulty. As a tune-up for the next longer event in your area like the upcoming Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon or Wild Duluth 50/100 km or perhaps a comfortable race post a 100-mile behemoth like the Sawtooth earlier in September, the 10-mile distance can fit the bill.
Besides, their long-sleeve shirt is one of the coolest fall-looks going . . . .
Photos: Courtesy Todd Bauer, Sports, Inver Grove Heights Patch