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Jun 9, 2015

Flirt with Dirt 10k race review

Short Version
Finished in 1:00:38 (official time); no new PR
Overall Place:  116/371
Overall Men:  88/182
Men 45-49:  16/35

Race #92

This is my first time running Flirt with Dirt.  I was really impressed with the park that seems to be a hidden gem for the City of Novi.  The trails, while not very challenging, were very nice and had some awesome single track to run on.  It was well organized by Running Fit and was not over crowded which is nice.  While I enjoyed it, I did this one for the Serious Series and probably would not drive the distance from my home for a 10k but I'm really glad I ran it.  A perfect event for runners who want to try trail running for the first time.


Long Version
Registration/Packet Pickup
Registration was very easy.  I signed up for the Serious Series and this was the second race in that series.  The first one was the Trail Marathon in April and the Legend in August.  Running Fit has an easy to follow website for the race which makes it very simple.

We got there about 7:00am and had a little time to wait for the 10k which was at 8:15am but got a nice parking spot near the start/finish area.  We were able to find our bib numbers posted but you could also get them online via an email the race sent out early.  There was also packet pickup the day before the race as well which is a nice option.  Given the distance to my home, we opted to pick up that morning.  It literally took minutes and we had plenty of time to get back to the car and put out stuff away.

As you can see, there were not tons of runners in line when we got there so it was very simple.

Start Area
The start area was all set up by the time we got there.  It was a great day for running trails!
Food area
The park had plenty of room for runners but not plenty of parking.   We even ended up parking on the grass.  It did work out pretty good since the 5k started 45 minutes earlier from the 10k so many of the runners had left by the time we got finished.
Really nice park!
Finish set up
Finally, we were ready to run and the race had people lined up by pace.  They did three waves to keep the congestion down at the start.
Runners in front of me
Runners behind me
My plan was to keep things fairly easy.  While my paces were faster than my training paces, this was also a flat course and I'm used to training on hills.  Given that, I could run it faster but still keeping an easy pace.  I had a 19 miler the next day so I didn't want to push it too much.
Splits, Map and elevation per Strava
Please note that I forgot my regular camera so all photos were taken with my iPhone 6.  I did the best I could with what I had to capture the course.  While the iPhone has a great camera, it's not great for trail running.
Started in the second wave
As you can see, the crowd was not too bad.  We did an okay job lining up and still had to pass some people at the start but overall were in a good position.
Little crowd to start
 The start ran around the park a little bit.
Kevin kicking butt
We then ran through the parking lot.  We had some 5k runners leaving at this time.  It was not very safe as the cars were packed in and people were trying to leave.  The race should have organized this a little better to keep the 10k runners safer.  Overall, nobody got hurt so that was good but they should have had more volunteers in this area to stop cars until the runners got past this area.
In the parking lot - weird
 We then headed for the dirt on some wider trails.
Back to dirt
Onto the trail
 This area was still fairly easy to pass runners if you wanted to.
Nice and wide to start
Easy to pass
The course was beautiful and had some nice variety on the course.
People helping
The course was very well marked as it usually is for all the Running Fit events.  There was one area where the 5k and 10k split where there were plenty of signs but probably should have been a volunteer there as well to keep people going in the right direction.  I'm sure some of the runners missed this split and went the wrong way and ended up short.  A key rule in running trails, follow the flags and signs - not the runner in front of you!
Nice trail
 The park had several awesome bridges as you can see below.  I took a quick picture of the first one.  I almost fell into the water as I got started running again.  That would have made for quite a story!
loved this bridge
We were then onto single track.  The brush was fairly high and while you could pass people, it was much harder in these areas.
Single track

More single track
 As you can see, the course had some really nice variety on it.
My kind of trail
We also came upon this really cool bridge that had names carved into the entire bridge.  It's hard to make it out in the picture below but it was cool.
The bridge with names
 There was even some technical spots with tree roots on the course.
really nice area
Continued single track
We ran past a nice creek as well.  It truly was a very beautiful park.  I'm told that they get lots of bikers so it makes it harder to run this course but we didn't have any issues with bikers today.
Nice creek
Reflections in the water
Back to single track(most of the course)
 The course had mile markers and were pretty close to being on based on my watch.
Well marked - sorry for the blurry picture
More bridges
The course then opened up again near the end, and as you can see, the single track turned to wider trails.
 Even with the single track in this area, it was easy to pass as the sides were more clear.

Marks for turns

Love this area

Markings to keep you on track
You can see from the curves in the trail below that these are well used by mountain bikers.
Tight turns
The finish was on a hill - the biggest on the course and people were there cheering you on to finish strong.
Almost there final hill
Aid Stations
The aid stations had water and gatorade in a few spots.  The volunteers did a great job telling runners what they had for us as we were coming up on the aid station.  I only got one good picture and that was one of me turned around going backwards!  This is why you can see a runner coming towards me.
Great volunteers
Finish Area
After we finished, there were volunteers there offering bottled waters.  If you ran both the 5k and the 10k, the race offered a race glass for finishers.  There were runners cheering us as we finished.
Volunteers with bottles

A little walk from the start had cookies, pretzels and bananas.  I love the cookies Running Fit gets for their events.  They are always great!
Cookies, pretzels and bananas
 The race also had a First Aid station too and there were several runners in there getting worked on.  Nothing that looked too serious thankfully.
First aid
With that, we headed out and it was very simple to get out and was not crowded at all.  You can see the lake near the park.  It was a very nice area.
Lake next to the park
For your race entry, you received a custom race bib with QR code to find results.  You also received a well marked and supported course.
Race bib
 The race management company offers small race magnets so everyone got one of these for the race.  These are neat keepsakes.  They used to offer pins but changed to magnets.
Race magnet
The race also offered an A4 tech shirt.  Most of you know my feelings on these shirt.  To make it perfectly clear, I HATE THESE SHIRTS!  These are the worst training shirts in the history of training shirts.  They make you feel like you are wearing a garbage bag.  The race company needs to go back to offering Brooks shirts which are much nicer, fit better and breath when running.  I'd pay more to get a nice shirt.  I'd be happy without a shirt for less money since this one will sit in my closet 98% of the time.  I'd rather just have a cheap cotton shirt - at least that one would get worn.
Shirt front
Shirt back
Organization for Running Fit events has always been good.  I would not run their races so often if they were not organized.  They did a great job overall and if they can fix that part of the course in the parking lot to make it safer, it would help.  The course came out good on distance and markers.  The volunteers are always great.  The communication via email was good.

Overall, this was a really fun race and a perfect race for that first time trail runner.  It's not extremely hilly or technical and makes for a great race.  As I mentioned, I did it because of the Serious Series of races and I'm happy I was finally able to run this race.  If it were a little closer to my home, I'm sure I'd run this one again.  If you have not run it, it's definitely one to put on your list for next year.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Disclosure:  I paid for this entry with my own funds.  All opinions are my own.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like some easy nice tracks to run on... I know you didn't push yourself because of the long run planned for the next day, but what sort of times did the front guys run?

    Yes I hear you about the race shirts, now while you don't like the shirt, I think the design is OK, so maybe what you need to do is contact A4 and tell them to improve there shirts... 2 years ago my wife ran a ladies time trial competition and loved the t-shirt they got! Then last year she ran it again, but they had a new sponsor and the t-shirt was so awful she gave it back and didn't run the competition this year...