Wrong turns part of trail racing | SierraSun.com

Wrong turns part of trail racing

Peter Fain
Running on Dirt

Itand#8217;s a race directorand#8217;s biggest fear, that a runner makes a wrong turn and gets lost. So, they go out of their way to overly mark courses to ensure that doesnand#8217;t happen. The bummer is people will still miss turns. It sucks, but it happens.

This weekend I won a race because the leader made a wrong turn and#8212; rather, he missed a turn at around mile 17. Who knows if he would have held on for the win? But chances were good.

This past weekend often marks the start of racing season for many of us in the mountains. Some of our trails are clear, so we can actually run on dirt. I know, this year is special. Often we head down the hill earlier in the year to experience dirt, but that always feels like a tease.

The Silver State 50/50 and Half-Marathon is in its 26th year. For those of you who havenand#8217;t done it, you should really mark you calendars for next year. The event starts in Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno and heads up and over Peavine via singletrack trails and fire roads.

Each distance has its own unique challenges. I choose to return to this race for a number of reasons: I really like the course, the aid station crews are really helpful and nice, and most importantly, I get to sleep in my own bed before the race.

But this course poses some difficult scenarios for the first-time runner. There are many trail crossings and junctions, which make course marking extra challenging. This means you canand#8217;t just drift off into la la land and stare off into the distance. You have to pay attention.

Recommended Stories For You

There are plenty of opportunities to stare off, like when youand#8217;re midway through your climb to the top of Peavine. Otherwise, watch the trail. And just because you may have run the course in the past doesnand#8217;t mean youand#8217;re not at risk of making a wrong turn. There is a section of the course that does a loop and I caught up to Grae and#8212; a longtime ultrarunner and#8212; and had to yell out to him to choose the other direction.

With only one variance on this race day that Iand#8217;m aware of, everyone else made it through the course. But the moral of the story is pay attention to where youand#8217;re going, whether youand#8217;re in a race or just out for a long run. My buddy Paul has had one-hour runs turn into three-hour runs because he wasnand#8217;t paying attention somewhere. La la land.

and#8212; Peter Fain is a local trail runner who competes regularly in regional trail races and snowshoe runs in the winter. He may be contacted at runondirt@gmail.com.