This morning, January eighth, 2022, I joined different loopy, like-minded, runners at Veteran’s Acres Park in Crystal Lake to start out the 12 months off with the Frozen Gnome path races placed on by Ornery Mule Racing. That is the primary race I ever ran with Ornery Mule, and regardless of the at all times frigid temps that this race appears to supply, I used to be hooked from the beginning.
Race Director, Michele Hartwig, and her superb employees and volunteers at all times placed on a stellar occasion. And this 12 months was no completely different.
Temps started within the single digits because the 50K-ers crossed the beginning line at 7:45 am to sort out the troublesome course. 10K runners started shortly thereafter at 8 am. All runners began and ended simply outdoors of the principle shelter at Veteran’s Acres. The OMR workforce had draped plastic round an out of doors shelter and supplied heaters to assist heat runners as they waited for the beginning.
The power was excessive as Michele counted down the beginning for each distances. Runners took off, ran across the baseball discipline, and started the winter journey by means of the park district path system. This course is very technical with roots, bushes, and different nature objects protecting the path. There was practically 800 ft of elevation by means of the one 6.2-mile loop. Runners had been challenged with a number of inclines and declines, together with the notorious butt slide hill. This 12 months the OMR workforce supplied a rope for runners to seize onto on their approach down. I took the rope and nonetheless discovered myself sliding down nearly all of the incline. There’s a cause this hill has earned its title.
There have been parts that had been practically un-runable as runners slowed to a stroll to climb up a rock-filled terrain or to descend a slippery slope. Your complete course was coated with packed snow, which provides an additional problem in itself. I’ve at all times in contrast working on snow to working on sand, as you sink power into your footfall, fairly than propelling from a tough floor.
Though the course is a problem, it’s extremely stunning and well-marked. The OMR workforce has indicators and markings positioned all through your entire path, making certain runners know precisely the place to twist and switch. This race can also be well-known for its swag, which adjustments yearly. This 12 months runners acquired a delicate, cotton baseball tee with the frozen gnome picture throughout the chest and an enormous finishers medal.
Congratulations to all runners and an enormous thanks to the Ornery Mule Racing Group for an unbelievable occasion. You can check out all of their races here.