After running the Beat the Blerch half marathon in Lewis Morris, back in September, and almost hating it, I knew I had to get my butt back out there and redeem my feelings and my pace. [[I wish I was blogging back when I ran that race, so I could explain my almost hatred for it]] — I love trail running. It is a totally different sport than road running. It’s challenging, it’s exhilarating, and it’s oh so beautiful. When I searched for trail runs in October, I came across one held by REI. If you have not heard of REI before then you are totally missing out.
REI is the best recreational equipment company out there. Their mission is to get people outdoors. And if you know anything about me, you know being outside is my– f a v o r i t e– thing EVER! My husband and I are members at REI, and we spend more money there than we would probably care to admit. BUT it is always worth it when you get to be in the middle of such a finite part of our big, beautiful world. Whether it’s hiking up the side of a mountain && rendering yourself speechless by views that cannot even be described, or whizzing by trees and barreling over rocks on your mountain bike, being lost in the wilderness is being found.
So when I found out I could run a race sponsored by my favorite store, you better believe I was one of the first ones to sign up. The race was held at Lewis Morris Park, which is one of the top parks in New Jersey, known for its mountain biking trails, and it is a very popular venue for trail runs.
Registration was great. They had so many fun nik-naks to give away, and the event staff was beyond friendly. They were engaging and interacted with everyone. They cared about how you were feeling and doing. The race coordinator was the best! She cheered on every single person, and gave me a hug when I crossed through the finish line. She took whatever pictures you wanted, and never stopped smiling! Another reason why REI is such a great company. Their staff should be commended and applauded.
The course was well marked and staff was present at every questionable turn. We trekked uphill for the first mile– about 300 feet up. The trail was surprisingly visible, despite all the fallen leaves. It was gorgeous, as the sun filtered its way between tree branches, and left a soft glow on the ground below. The leaves were damp and slick, but I managed to stay upright the entire race. Mile two was filled with a lot of uphill//downhill turns, and mile three was mostly downhill with some pretty sharp turns. The start and finish were at the same location, and the other runners were great sports.
All around, I absolutely loved this race. I managed to keep a decent pace given the hills, and most importantly, I kept myself upright as I balanced on rocks and tree roots along the single track trail. I was the first woman to finish the 5k and came in at 29: 53, giving me a pace of 9:35.
The winners prizes are so cute. I love the Klean Kanteen steel cups. The winners also received a Nathan’s hand held water bottle ((valued at $35))! All participants were given REI Run Series shoe laces, Nathan Lock Laces, and as many Cliff Bars, Gel Blocks, and Cliff Builder’s Bars as you wanted.
I cannot wait until the REI Run Series comes back to NJ. I will be joining them again. I want to thank REI, the event staff, and the event coordinator for an awesome time, spectacular views, and great memories. Job well done!
———-REI will be closed on Black Friday, proving their commitment to getting people outside, and helping make our world a better place. Spread the love. Let’s pray other companies jump on board, and opt to close down shops on Black Friday! #OPTOUTSIDE