Race Report: Otter Creek Trail Runs

I’ll admit to being a bit of a fair-weather runner in some situations. I don’t take pride in suffering through miserable conditions — treadmills exist for good reason. And when it comes to signing up for December trail races that are an hour away … Consider me a bit noncommittal. 

I love the Otter Creek Trail Runs and have gone down for the 8 miler (you can also do 16 or a marathon on the loop course) a number of years. But typically only if the weather is favorable. This year though, I really wanted to go and I signed up in advance. The day before, my friend Stephanie texted to ask if I was still going to go in the rain. I said yes, thinking she was wondering if I’d want to join her the next morning if I wasn’t going. Instead, she had found a way to join me! 

This race has always been my birthday present to myself. The race date is normally close to my birthday and it’s a race I just really like to do, whether it is running hard or running for fun with friends. I love it even though I sprained my ankle there once a few years ago and it still clicks when I walk up stairs.

It had rained all day Friday — lots and lots of rain — and continued overnight Saturday and the whole way down to the race. We carpooled and got there without a ton of time to get ready (I’d suggest moving the start time back to 8:30 or 9, really, since it isn’t even light until 8 and most people are driving an hour — it’s not like it is going to be hot.!). We basically didn’t warm up but we did get ample warnings about the condition of the trail.

Stephanie and me post-race.

Said warnings were not adequate. Within the first mile I ran through a puddle up to my KNEES that was at least four steps long, that’s like 12 feet wide. This continued throughout the race, with the trail covered in ankle-deep water and no way to go around. Other parts were just mud pits. The multiple water crossings were moving rapidly and no way to see the rocks underneath.

But Otter Creek is simply gorgeous. The trees sheltered us from most of the rain and a thick blanket of pine needles aided in footing in some places. The muddy, murky Ohio River was high in its banks, rushing alongside  us. As we crested the main hill around mile 6, the views were amazing as long as you could still breathe. 

I splashed, I slipped, I sat down in the mud, I did some walking. I kept my HR in the range coach wanted — we treated it as an 8-mile tempo effort — moving up to third place female after the giant hill. 

I ended up with a couple bruises, a couple scrapes, and really wet shoes.Stephanie was fifth overall and first female; I was twelfth and third. Aaron, who you might remember from my Harrod’s Creek report, went out with me for the first mile and edged me by about 10 seconds to the finish (if I had known, I would’ve tried harder to catch him!). 

A big thank you to Headfirst Performance and all the volunteers who worked to clean up the trail before the race and added support ropes overnight so we wouldn’t end up in the river. And all the people who made chili for the after-party this year, WOW. Thank you. Until next year, OTC. 

Gear and fueling:

  • Rx Bar on the way to the race
  • Oiselle Portman shorts, New Balance half-zip lightweight long sleeve, Balega Crazy Crew socks, New Balance Summit trail shoes, hat, cheapie gloves (it was about 44* and raining, I could’ve gone with a short sleeve but opted for a long sleeve with a zip that I could vent in case it started raining harder)
  • Hammer Nutrition Recoverite immediately after the race (no fuel or water during)
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