I am very behind in blogging but I have to recap an awesome race that we did a few weeks ago. On March 24, my fiance and I ran Into the Wild's 21K at Irvine and Santiago Oaks Regional Parks. I read reviews about last year's race and it seemed well-run, so I signed us up for it a few months ago. A week before the race, we went to pick up our bibs at REI; I was very impressed with the T-shirts and goody bags.
The morning of the race, we arrived early and enjoyed free admission to the Irvine Regional Park. I loved the low-key atmosphere of the race and that it was obvious that the race organizers were runners who had family members helping out with race details. The race started on time after the RD gave an introduction and told us how the course was marked.
The first mile was on pavement and then we hit the trail; the RD told us that the first few miles were flat and that we hit the climbs from miles 4-10, and that the last miles were downhill and flat. We cruised along, taking it very easy as this was run 1 of 2 of the day for us (yep, double necessary to get in distance needed for the day). We left Irvine Park and entered Santiago Oaks Park; I was very impressed with the trail marking. Not only did they use ribbons and chalk, but they had large XXX to prevent us from turning on the wrong trail anytime a new trail (even a very obviously wrong on) was encountered.
The race became very scenic and the hills were no joke; before the race, I doubted the estimated 2900 ft of climb but the race made me realize they were not exaggerating the amount of climb. We took it very easy on the climbs and, by the last one, we were with other people who were also joking that the RDs found every possible climb in the park. I was happy that the hills were done and enjoyed the downhill and then flat last few miles.
The only negatives of the race were the lack of aid stations and the seemingly endless run on pavement at the end; however, I am accustomed to being prepared for few aid stations during a race and the finish was designed to make sure we hit at least 21K. There was aid at mile 1 and 12 and then around mile 7 (I think); the RD said water was stashed around mile 10.5 but that they had already dealt with random people taking part of it so he could not guarantee it would still be there; we were mid-pack so I knew not to look hard for that unmanned water. The aid stations and post-race aid area were well stocked with tons of ultra/trail goodies and the volunteers and co-RD were awesome at manning those stations.
Overall, I highly recommend this race and any other ones they organize. It was the best marked course I have seen and the trails were very pretty. The medal and other goodies were high quality and it was obvious that the RDs worked hard at giving everyone a superb race experience.
Post-race, we stretched and grabbed some fuel; then we drove to UCI to buy organic veggies at the Farmer's Market. Then, we immediately headed out for our second run. I knew a flat section of dirt that was about 1 mile out; so we separated and did out/back on that path until we hit at least 13 miles. I "learned" the importance of fueling and carrying water as the afternoon hit took a toll and I wished that I had water with me. In the end, I hit 28 miles for the day and my legs felt the hills but I loved the trail run, so I was a happy girl!