2016 Cross Country Trail Race Report

I ran a half marathon on a weekday, five days after the NYC Marathon. I didn't even have my sights on this local race, but Jody mentioned it and it didn't take much nudging for me to jump on board. Then I found out that Andrea "Rhode Hazard" was going to run too, and offered her a place to crash the night before the race.

The Cross Country Trail Marathon and Half Marathon are part of Altis Endurance Sports, a series of races that mostly take place on non-technical trails. This one was in Springfield VA in Lake Accotink Park. It was close to home and there were several people I knew running that day. Altis races are no-frills. There is a cotton shirt and a simple but nice medal. There are well-stocked aid stations that include candy, cookies and other treats to provide carbs and sugar to the runners. Timing is by "gun", not chip, and the courses are typically multi-loop.

With Jody and Andrea before the race

For Cross Country Trail (named for the actual trail we ran on), we started out running a short out and back section along a lake. We half marathoners turned around sooner than the marathoners. Then we returned to the start and began multiple out and backs on a different stretch of trail. For the half we ran 2 loops and the full marathoners ran 4 loops. Since we were constantly passing other runners, it was a good opportunity to see friends multiple times throughout the morning,

The crowd before the start

I really liked the first out and back with the view of the lake, and the short bit of dirt trail we ran. It was scenic. The rest of the course was through a beautiful park, where we passed sports facilities and picnic areas, but no lake.

On the first out and back section
The lake 
Entering the short stretch of dirt trail; I'm standing on a beach

Most of the volunteers were high school students who had the day off school for Veterans Day. Some of them worked at the aid stations and some of them formed cheering sections. They were pretty much our only spectators.

The course was not terribly challenging in terms of hills or technicalities, but my legs felt tired and heavy, coming off NYC Marathon days before. I had no time goal for this race, so I just took it easy and enjoyed the brisk run through the park. The weather was perfect for running.

That's Andrea ahead of me on the trail
Fast guy passes legends Larry and Matthew (if he only knew)
Jody on the course
We had one water crossing with stepping stones

There wasn't a lot of fanfare at the finish. My time was recorded, I received my medal, and I had an Oreo cookie. After a few photos I said my goodbyes to Jody, Andrea and to Dave, who was going out for another loop of the full marathon.

With my medal
If you're looking for a simple, supported run through a park, Altis is a great way to go, and I would recommend this race for next year. Don't expect the perks and excitement of a big race, but do expect to run with others who are out there for the love of the sport.


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