On Sunday, February 28th, Crazy Legs Trail Races hosted their annual end of winter race, the Yeti Trail Half. This race company is owned by Paul Stofko, local ultrarunner and race director extraordinaire.
No one would ever say that directional capability is a skill I possess. As such, it is not at all abnormal for me to get lost in trail races, especially heavily technical races, which the Yeti Trail Half is. However, RD Stofko marks this course so well that I even I could stick to the course, although at times I certainly didn’t want to! It is so evident from pre-race communication to race day atmosphere to course markings that the RD is a runner himself!
This race is held in Westville, Indiana, just about 20 minutes past the state line, in the Bluhm County Park. Parking was onsite and race day packet pick up was available at the park shelter. Runners received multiple pre-race email updates from the RD with course conditions, shoe recommendations for the terrain, and a list of FAQ’s to prepare all participants.
The course is 3 loops, each approximately 4 miles long. Runners pass the shelter/aid station and restrooms at the start of each loop. Runners also passed their cars at the start so if they had to do a wardrobe change or preferred a specific fuel, it was convenient to do a quick stop.
This year’s conditions made the course extra challenging as there were portions where the snow was not yet packed down and runners had to high step it through 12 inches of the white stuff. There was also morning fog that encapsulated the start line.
Despite the fog and damp start, spirits were high as runners were happy to return to racing in a safe manner. Face coverings were required at the start/finish line, as well as at the aid station. Runners were distanced and participant numbers were kept low.
This course is highly technical with tree roots, mud, standing water, snow piles, hills, and even fallen trees that runners had to climb over, under, and around. There was only one section of standing water that went to calf height and it was over fairly quickly, but it was a cold shock for the few seconds it took to pummel through it.
But, there was also a calm beauty that surrounded runners as they dug deep to keep moving. Most of the course is within the forest preserve and runners were surrounded by trees and nature that is just about ready to transition to spring. There were moments on the course where I couldn’t see another runner and could reflect on the beauty that trails can provide. This is a big deal for a seasoned road runner like me!
All runners received a long sleeved, light blue, shirt, winter gloves, a hat, and a medal. I can’t speak more highly of the communication and organization from the RD and the helpful friendly volunteers that were spread along the course. I encourage you to put this one on your calendar for next year and check out the challenging course for yourself!