I don’t remember much about my first Leesburg 20K back in 2004 other than it was hot, humid, hilly, and left nothing to make me want to run it again. Fast forward to 2014 and then 2015 when I decided to give the race another chance and quickly learned that I really liked the change in the course and for whatever reason, I could tolerate heat better these days than back then, so of course, there had to be a 2016 Leesburg 20K.
Perhaps it was the cow and barn motif on the logo in the new and improved race that got this farm girl’s attention, but whatever the case, it’s become one of my favorite annual races.
After some back and forth with my MRTT and Cruiser friends, Erin and Beth, we agreed that running the 20K at an easy and laid back pace made the most sense for each of us. Between business travel, vacations, and illnesses, none of us were in race shape (or at least a racing state of mind), and a fun relaxed run where we could all catch up with each other sounded like a lot of fun!
Since I had picked up our race packets on Friday afternoon, Beth said she would drive. Erin and Beth arrived at my house bright and early on Sunday morning, and the three of us took off with Bill in hot pursuit – on his bike – on the trails…
We parked in downtown Leesburg and walked over to the starting line and took jumping pictures before heading to the porta potties. The lines seemed long for that early, but they were moving very quickly, and before we knew it we were heading back to Tuscarora Mill for our multi-chapter MRTT group picture.
While waiting for the everyone to gather for our picture, Erin, Beth, and I saw our friend Jenny and learned that she, too, planned to run the race at a comfortable pace so we invited her to join our little gang of laid-back racers.
From our MRTT group picture, we casually moved to the starting chute and while waiting for the race to start, Beth and I got a quick picture together. Some day we’ll have to compare race notes and figure out how many races we’ve run together over the years. We’ve been Cruiser buddies for twelve years, and I know that together we’ve run a lot of marathons, 20-milers, 20K’s and 10-milers. Aside from the races, I can’t even begin to guess how many training miles we’ve run together on the W&OD Trail.
Turning my focus back on the race, I flipped on my Garmin and with only a second or two to spare after it found satellite, the gun fired and we were off!
Very early in the race a guy next to me tripped up with a girl on the other side of him. Knocked off balance, his foot hit my leg and somehow, after the three of us stumbled forward a few steps, none of us fell. Luckily, we continued on unscathed.
About a mile later, Jenny said something about us running four abreast and then corrected herself saying that we were running two abreast. Beth and I were right behind Jenny and Erin so I responded that actually they were running four abreast if they counted each of their breasts. Two guys running near us cracked up and one even gave me a high five. Looking back it doesn’t sound all that funny, but at the time it seemed hilarious. I’m nothing, if not someone who loves ten-year-old humor…
We still hadn’t seen Bill on his bike yet, but were keeping an eye out for him. We knew that he planned to be along the trail with the GoPro capturing some of our fun as we ran by. Perhaps the best video of the day was taken at one of our three porta potty stops!
Of course since this was a race, Bill captured us running… and chatting!
I did my one and only “fartlek photo sprint” when I ran ahead to capture this picture in one of my favorite spots along the trail. With the majority of the race being on the W&OD Trail, it got crowded at spots once runners turned and we had two-way traffic. It’s never too crowded to be a major problem and getting to see your friends either in front of or behind you is worth a little congestion along the way.
I made a ridiculously stupid mistake after I stopped to take this picture of the new tunnel and turned to rejoin my friends waiting on the other side of the trail. As I stepped back onto the trail, I stepped right in front of an oncoming runner. He was behind this guy running toward me in the photo and was not at all happy that I caused him to bump into me. I apologized as he speed away and I felt like a complete fool. It was an honest mistake, but I am not a rookie runner and should have known better. Thank goodness that I didn’t cause one of us to get hurt (especially him) in a more serious collision.
After our turnaround, we continued on sometimes running strong – when we saw a camera…
And occasionally taking short walk breaks…
While we were still out hamming it up on the race course, the men’s winner, Graham Tribble, finished in 1:09:33 (5:36 pace)…
And less than six minutes later, Perry Shoemaker crossed the finish line as the women’s winner with a time of 1:15:22 (6:05 pace).
With about a quarter mile to go, Erin and I saw a photographer and flashed peace signs for this fun picture which, without a doubt, is our favorite race picture together – ever!
We crossed the bridge, rounded a corner, and picked up the pace the best we could as we headed up the hill toward the finish line. Erin and I finished together with a time of 2:15:56 (10:58 pace) – much slower, but much more fun than our previous Leesburg 20K races.
Dripping with sweat, I grabbed a water bottle, got my medal, and headed off with my friends to find Bill. I realized that the ribbon on my medal was the only thing I had that was dry so I used it to wipe the lens on my phone’s camera. I had accidentally grabbed my phone out of my SpiBelt (affiliate link) with my sweaty fingers and noticed that a few of my pictures had a fuzzy quality to the upper left corner.
While choosing what looked best from the post-race food tables, we saw fellow-runner and the guy who should be every injured runner’s best friend, Aleck. Aleck (aka Dr. Wong) is well known in my circle of running friends and has gotten many of us through various running injuries.
We bumped into our Cruiser friend, Ravi, as we headed back to our car and asked someone to take our picture. It’s always fun to see friends at a race!
As we cut through the sponsor area on the way back to our car, Jenny and Beth grabbed one last well-deserved treat!
As I mentioned in my opening paragraphs, the cow and barn motif on the medal and shirt are super cute and Erin captured the medal perfectly with a red barn in the background.
The ladies’ cut race shirt fits perfectly…
And the little race pin is super cute!
I highly recommend running either the Leesburg 20K or the 5K if you happen to be in the area in mid-August next year. Whether you’re racing or running for fun, you’ll be glad you did!
- Have you run a 20K?
- Do you race in August, or do you consider August too hot for racing?
- What’s your favorite summer time race?