Great Falls Loop Preview

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Today I forced (in the nicest way possible) my buddy to run with me and we did a preview of the Great Falls loop of The North Face course.  I was scheduled for 10 miles but wasn’t pressed to hit that number after running hard yesterday.  I knew I would hit some hills and do a bunch of hiking in this section of the course.

I was told by someone who had run the course before to check out this section.  It’s very different than the rest of the course.  I’m quite familiar with the park.  We used to hike there often.  We had a park pass, lived closer, and would go on weekends to hike and sometimes bike.  Even though I knew the trails, I hadn’t ever looked at them with running a race in mind.  I wanted to figure out where I would need to hike/walk and be prepared for the different terrain.

I didn’t carry a camera or a phone today but I took many mental pictures.

Here is the course map with a few of my notes added:

My thoughts on the course.
My thoughts on the course.

In this section of the course some of the hills are big and just not runable for me.  Some of the terrain is technical and will involve switching back and forth between running and hiking depending on how my legs feel.  Some sections are narrow and I’m bit a concerned about the 50 milers who will be passing me.  The section after turn 8 is the most technical.  I’m prepared to hold my ground and make sure I’m safe but fully aware that I will have to let faster runners pass me.  I can’t quite figure out the timing of where people running the 50 mile race will be but they will be running a similar loop 3 times.  Theirs has an extra piece.

We ran a total of 7 miles.  I was happy with that.  We ended up maintaining the same pace that I ran yesterday.  I know on race day I will use a little extra time in this section at the aid station where my buddy is going to crew for me.  I will need to reload my fuel and probably my water and that will take time.  We need to practice so that I don’t lose too much time.

After we finished running we walked back to enjoy the falls for a few minutes and take a few pictures.

Great Falls
Great Falls
A closer view of the falls
A closer view of the falls
Hello to the people in MD.  (My side is better!!)
Hello to the people in MD. (My side is better!!)

This weekend I covered most of the course.  I skipped the easy part in the beginning, one hill, and the section between that hill and Great Falls.  I’ve run those parts before so I know what to expect.  I’m not sure if I will end up running the Great Falls section one more time during training but I feel like I know what to expect now.

One thought on “Great Falls Loop Preview

    Meagan said:
    March 13, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    This was so helpful to read! Thank you for sharing. Your notes on the course map are especially useful. It’s nice to know a little better what to expect, since I’m not able to get out on the course prior to race day.

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