In late summer a wild idea popped into my head. Our F3 group should do a trail run together in the rocky terrain of northwest Arkansas. I’m sure that is probably due to the event advertisement for the Bella Vista Back 40 Trail Run popping up on my Facebook timeline.
I had to talk myself into it before asking anyone else to join me. In the past I had told myself and others that I wouldn’t do a trail run due to the risk of injury.
After I decided I would do it, I sent a note to the F3 group and found out that Yazoo and Sniper were planning to go as well. So, we signed up for the 13 mile run.
Sniper and I trained together on the trails around Lake Atalanta in Rogers, Arkansas a couple of times. And I trained on those trails four different times.
I found out quickly during our first training run that I would need shoes specifically for trail running in this rocky terrain. I love my Brooks Ravenna running shoes. So the next week I went to Rush Running in Bentonville and asked them to give me the trail running version, it was the Brooks Cascadia 10.
My longest training run at Lake Atalanta was about 7 miles at a pace of 10:40/mile. This may sound like a slow pace to road runners, but I assure you I was moving quite well for a new trail runner in that terrain and elevation variance.
The Trails at Lake Atalanta in Rogers, Arkansas are well maintained and they are marked with various levels of difficulty. I highly recommend these trails for a new trail runner. It is near historical downtown Rogers and after your run you can quickly jog or drive up the hill and have a cup of coffee and breakfast.
There are also numerous paved trails around Lake Atalanta that I train on regularly including an option to train on the grueling hill between the lake and the Railyard Mountain/BMX bike park which adjoins the downtown area.
My first training run of two miles caused a good bit of soreness in the hips and calf muscles. So, I made sure to start using the lateral movement elliptical machine on my cross training days at the gym.
On the week of the Back 40 race I checked the weather forecast and everything looked clear but cold. So I geared up appropriately with my running gloves and UA Cold Gear top and leggings (I wore my branded gear from my online store). I also wore my Brooks Cascadia trail running shoes that I picked up at Rush Running in Bentonville and my Junk headbands to cover my ears and neck.
On race morning I ate my protein bar and drank a Zipfizz. I met Yazoo and Sniper at the parking area at Bella Vista Blowing Springs park and we started our pre-race prep. This actually just means that we went to the restroom a couple times until we had everything out before the race started. We also did a few active stretches and static stretches.
The starting line was packed and buzzing with excitement. The race organizers of this event, along with the volunteers, are amazing. The starting line area, as well as all the aid stations, are well supplied and supportive. And the runners are all kind on the trails.
This event had distances from 5K, 13 mile, 20 mile and 40 mile for the run. There was also a mountain biking event the next day with the same distances.
We started the race and had a fun time together running in the woods of Bella Vista. The trails were nice but challenging to a new trail runner. I definitely used a few different muscles and ligaments in my hips and legs that I normally don’t use as much in paved running. But my training helped mitigate that.
I really enjoyed the Back 40 trail run and the mumblechatter with the folks on the trail. And to top it all off, they had fried catfish for all the finishers at the finish line.