Location: Rock Bridge State Park; Columbia, Missouri
Trail Type: Single Track
Host: Columbia Track Club
Distance: 7M, 25K, 50K
Atmosphere: Due to starting in the middle of the autumn months within Missouri; you can expect a cool start and comfortable finish. The sun can get somewhat toasty towards the end, but the vast amount of cover keeps most of that off of the runner.
Terrain: This is a gorgeous trail system. The beginning of the 25K/50K course weaves through the rockier section of Columbia, Missouri and the high Ozark region. The rest intertwines through the deciduous timber. There are a few steep sections on the 25K/50K section, but there is also sections that run along a creek that are extremely flat. Plus, bonus points for a legitimate water crossing (note: if it is a flooding kind of fall, there are several water crossings).
Logistics/Aid: For the 25K route there is only one primary aid station near the turn around point. There is also a water stop closer to the beginning, but definitely should not be depended on for assistance. The one major aid station has everything you need at a standard station. The coordination of the race is not bad, but some logistics issues resulted in one of our runners getting lost in the woods. At one point the running group that runner had traveled with was getting their shoes back on to go back into the woods to find them. Part of this was due to the lack of volunteers later in the day at aid stations and guiding points to assist runners. Additionally, the failure of urgency by the race director was very concerning to the runners, and the missing flags along the path during that section of the course is very disheartening.
Post Race: Bring out the Chik-Fil-A! Seriously. There were sandwiches catered out to everyone, along with dessert, Pepsi, and everything else afterwards. Nothing flashy or fancy, but a place to chill afterwards while waiting for other runners to finish. Do watch out for bees getting into your pop cans though; stings to the lips hurt.
Beginners Luck: This was my first race past 10 miles (25K). It was my wife’s first every trail race, and even the guy I hung out with for five miles had never ran a trail race before either. By way of course, it is a great beginners course. The only concern this year was the noted issues of logistics towards the end of the race.
I greatly enjoyed this race. It was a bit of a challenge, but it was a great opening for me to try something in the 25K category. Unfortunately, the frustration that came with the race director and lack of volunteers during the late end of the race makes me somewhat hesitant to return. Course is great, but leadership needs some adjustments heading into the fall of 2017.