A few interesting, "I don't get trail races" comments on my last post.
Well, that being only my second trail race, I can't pretend to be some kind of transcended being who has found enlightenment and will now deign to preach the good gospel of The Trail to you poor philistines still wandering in the dark.
No. I am probably closer to that infant state of consciousness of Scott and Jon. And even Bob, who at least admits to enjoying a non-event trail run. But I guess I have some insights and I can feel strange stirrings within.
All I can do is try to offer a couple of thoughts that have occurred to me in the past couple of days. The thing that distinguishes a "race" from a casual training run is that it is an event. On top of that, it is physically very, very demanding, and therefore not likely to be something you will attempt without the surrounding hoop-la of the event. So the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing something very, very demanding, and in often beautiful surroundings, is really unlikely without the event to push/pull you through it.
Like parenthood, these things are also something that you will never, ever be truly able to explain to anybody. You can only understand it by participating. Even to fellow runners who only ever do hard-top races. So there is a real sense of camaraderie and shared experience with your fellow trail hounds (I don't really call myself that, by the way). And this is why events like Six Foot Track and Hasetsune 72 km (this was the first time the 30 km version was has been run) take on such legendary status among those who keep coming back to take on the challenge they offer. I mean look at the profile of Six Foot:
That's pretty awesome. Yet, to me, after running this considerably shorter Hasetsune, I look at that profile and think, Ha! look at those long easy sections: the bottom of Nellies Glen to Cox's River is all clear running, then from the top of Pluviometer it all looks eminently runnable, though the descent to Cave's House would be truly agonizing, as many a race report attests. In Hasetsune you were always either really going up, or really going down. I think in general that the grades were probably steeper than what they would be at Six Foot, yet it is really impossible to compare. Those elevation gains and falls at Six Foot are undeniably big: 250 m at Cox's to 1200 m at caves Road ... this is alluring. Why wouldn't you want to take something like that on? And why would you take it on without the pull of the event?
Hasetsune 72 km literally scares me. And maybe that reason alone is enough to give it a try.
So those are me thoughts on this matter.