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Paris Mountain Half Marathon Trail Race 2022

  • Saturday, October 08 2022 @ 06:53 PM UTC
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Running and Fitness

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After finally getting over some Plantar fasciitis that had me doing a lot of cycling including making poor decisions like signing up for the long course of the Pinnacle Punsher, I am back into regular running and building my fitness.

The Paris Mountain Half Marathon is a challenging course! The route covered almost every trail in the park with very little repeat and a number of sections that aren't generally considered "runnable" due to the rocks, roots, and steepness. And I was ready for it!

The weather was perfect with temps in the 50s.

This race used old-school timing chips.

I run at Paris Mountain State Park almost every time I am in the Greenville area so I knew what the course was going to be like ahead of time. I made a race plan and feel like I executed very well.

From the start there is a short stretch of uphill pavement which is good to spread out the field a little bit. Then there is a pretty steep downhill through the main parking lot, across the road, and onto the stone stairs. This is a tricky part of the course due to the speed and the number of people around and the un-evenness of the stairs. After navigating the stairs there is a flat section and another tricky downhill to cross the bridge below the dam. I wanted to get out quick to avoid getting stuck behind a train of people on the climbs but not so fast that I would blow up. I settled into 6th place thinking I'd be holding that for a while, but by the time I got to the photographer I had moved up to 5th place.

I felt good about my 5th place position and let the runners in front of me go. I took the opportunity to take my first Gu gel.

Then the climbing began. I didn't see anyone in front of me again until the second section of Sulpher Springs Trail, the "hike only" section, which is the steep part above the dam. I caught up with one runner and tucked in behind. Then we both caught up to another runner. The trail here is very technical and very steep but I felt like we were going a little slow. Once we got to a wide spot I made my way past both runners and suddenly I was in 3rd place!

After that very hard climb there is a nice gradual downhill on Sulpher Springs to catch one's breath. At some point I looked back and could see a runner not too far behind. I picked it up a little bit but stayed under control. Then we turned onto Brissy Ridge and began to climb back up the mountain. When I got to the top of Firetower I saw that I had gained on the 2nd place guy. The whole way down the side of the mountain from Firetower to the North Lake I tried my best to catch 2nd place. He continued to be just ahead around the next switchback and while I closed some distance it was clear he did not want to be caught! Eventually I realized I was pushing too hard and needed to ease back... I still had half of the race to run! The gap increased a little but my breathing returned to something manageable.

Then we started around the lake. This section is relatively flat and less technical. I thought again maybe I could catch 2nd place. The next time I started to get closer, much to my surprise.... the 2nd place runner stopped and stepped off the trail and motioned for me to pass!

I was now in 2nd place!

I continued around the lake and across the dam. Knowing that the path across the dam was a nice smooth surface, here is where I took my second Gu gel. I also took a look over my shoulder to see if anyone was back there and sure enough, yet another pursuer.

Thus began the hard climb from the lake back up the mountain and some of the steepest and most technical sections on the course. I walked just a few of these sections but kept pushing up up up knowing I'd have a lot of downhill to get to the finish. After hitting Sulpher Springs again and the long series of switchbacks, I didn't see anyone behind me the rest of the way to the finish line.

I earned 2nd Place overall with a sub-2-hour finish (1:57:14).

I raced in my shiny new Upstate Running Club singlet. The Inov-8 TrailTalon 235 were a great choice for racing fast on this course. Picture includes race t-shirt, finisher medal, and 2nd place award:

The Paris Mountain Half Marathon trail race was held on October 8, 2022. Results:

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/7930840292
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