Viking Dash at Alum.

img_4770Race report alert:  Viking Dash 20k.  Had. A. Blast.

Let me start with the very beginning.  Last spring, my husband and I went out to run this course and map it for the company I work with.  I had never been out there before, but I’d heard it was a great trail.

It is. Beautiful views, huge, old trees, rolling hills.

I ran it with Dan, and we tried a couple of different directions to see how we could make it into a 5k, 10k, 20k course.  Beautiful.  Yet, even when there hadn’t been any precipitation in the area for a while, muddy. Hmmmm….interesting.

We ran a few more times out there, in the spring and summer, and then again in the fall when the kids were back in school.  One word….muddy.  It seemed like no matter what was going on with the weather, that was a constant.  I figured it would be a fitting course for a Viking race.  It never disappointed.

When we ran it in the fall, we had had recent storms go through, so there were some parts of the trail that were almost impassable.  Trees, very large ones to boot, were down and it was difficult to get around them.  The grass was really high, too.  Oh yeah, and there was mud.

So, of course, the week before the race date, we had several (yes, several) days of rain.  Non stop. Oh boy.

This course is great because the trail is wide in parts, it’s not too technical, and the elevation is really nice.  It’s not too easy, and it’s not too hard. But…the mud.

So, we showed up on race day, not really sure what to expect.  But, I’ll tell you what, it was a beautiful day to be a runner!  Low 40’s, sunshine, beautiful fall colors.  You can’t beat that.

We went out with the first group and entered the trail.  Yep, there was mud, but not too awful at first.  People settled in to their paces and began to spread out a bit.  The trail was wide, and much more cleared than it had been.  And, oh the colors.

There’s a spot where the trail comes out to a wonderful view of the lake, and it was gorgeous.  The water was so calm and beautiful, so serene.  Then you dive back into the trees.  We came upon the first water crossing.

This first loop, the water crossing was about mid-shin.  Icy cold water that kind of felt good in a way.  I remember commenting on how that would serve as my ice bath on my Achilles post race.  We headed up hill and continued on.  Some trees were still down, but definitely easy to maneuver, and it really added to the feel of the race.

As we continued, the mud got thicker and began to try to suck off our shoes, but it was still just a minor issue at this point.  The volunteers on the course were fantastic, as usual, and there were many smiles being exchanged with fellow runners.  It truly was a great day to be a runner out on the trail.

With the leaf cover, it was a little tricky to see the roots and walnuts, but we took our time knowing that we have another race in just a handful of days.  No way were either of us going to chance a last minute injury.

We came out from the first loop fairly muddy, but still in good shape.  We shared a little fuel, chatted a little, and powered on.  The day was warming up nicely and the sun was a welcomed sight after so much rain and gray skies the past week.

We came to the water crossing again.  Mind you, many people had passed through once or twice already, and there were close to 500 runners this morning.  This time, the icy cold water came up to my knees.  Talk about putting some pep into your step.

The muddy spots started not only having shoe prints but we saw some handprints as well.  It was definitely getting harder to navigate the sludge and people were going down.  Still, in some weird way, I was having a blast!

We joked with other runners about the mud and water crossings, and I suggested we do a shoe weigh in before and after the race to see who carried the most mud with them.

As we neared the end of the course, right before it opens up to the park area, I was a little sad it was going to be over. But, at the same time, I was looking forward to a warm shower after peeling off my muddy clothes, socks, and shoes.

As we finished, we were rewarded with Thor’s Hammer, which was super awesome (and heavy).  Warm food awaited us, as well as good company.  What a great way to start a Sunday.

The next Viking race has a Mace for the medal, so, of course, I signed up.  This was the most fun I’ve had in a long time, and the dirtiest I’ve been, too.  I felt like a kid again, running through the water and playing in the mud.  And the best part, I got to do it with my best running buddy, my soul mate, my hubby.


Run Happy. Run Long.



Amy is a marathoner and triathlete, a mother of four, an Exercise Physiologist and a Physical Therapist. She lives with her husband, Dan (also a marathoner and triathlete), and kids in Ohio.

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