Moon Over Croom is a night trail race run on the trails at Croom park in Brooksville, Florida. It coincides with the full moon, although the cloud cover on Saturday evening did not present the full moon like I was hoping. There are three race distances: 21 mile, 14 mile, and 7 mile. I’ve been running shorter distances lately, so I registered for the 7 mile along with Sean, and we decided we would run the race together.
The race has staggered start times an hour apart, so that each race you are starting out when it is still light out, but finishing in the dark. The 7 mile race started at 8:00pm. Our first 1/2 mile had been hit by the rain pretty hard, it was a rooty, downhill section that was slick and covered in mud. We managed to pick our way down the trail until we got to some of the drier sections. We were now able to pick up the pace a bit, and follow along the rolling hills of the trail. We were wearing headlamps (mandatory), but did not need to turn them on quite yet. It was dusk, but still light enough on the trail to see.
Just before we reached the aid station (around 3.5 miles), I turned my headlamp on. The visibility was still pretty good, but the lamp helped light the way as we headed down a steep ravine and climbed our way back up. We passed through the aid station, and now had only about half of the race left. And then it got dark. Very dark.
The pack of runners had thinned out, so Sean and I were pretty much on our own for the last half of the race. I was running in front, and it was very surreal to be running with only the headlamp and glowsticks to navigate my path. It’s a different running experience to require so much focus on just SEEING the trail, that you sometimes forget you are running at all! It was very quiet and peaceful in the dark, night forest. My headlamp would illuminate only the path right in front of me, giving me tunnel vision for the trail I was following. We did pass a few runners here and there, but it was a quiet night out there.
The final half mile or so was a gentle uphill climb on Croom Road to the finish line. We turned into the finish line where the post race cookout was in full swing. We saw several of our friends finish up the race, and looked for a few more (although it is hard to find everyone in the dark)!
I’ve always loved the races at Croom done by Tampa Races, and this was not an exception! This was a really cool experience to run the trails at night and partake in a really cool race. I would definitely run Moon Over Croom again!