The inaugural Starkey Stomp Trail Race took place in J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park on March 18th, 2017. I happen to run in Starkey Park all the time, as it is only a few miles from my house. Last year, when Endeavor Racing announced they were going to host a trail race there, I signed up as soon as possible! The race offered a 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon Distance. I signed up for the half marathon. I was looking forward to my first trail race in my backyard trails!
In January, Kip, the race director, was out at Starkey working on his route for the Starkey Stomp. Sean and I talked to him for a bit about some of our favorite trails and options for him. He asked us to help him route the 10K and Half Marathon Loops. I was honored to help Kip plan his route for the Starkey Stomp. You can read about my route here:Design Your Own Trail Race.
Time to Stomp!
Race Day came, and it was a perfect morning for running the trails! It was a little chilly waiting at the start line, but I knew I would warm up once the race started. Maria and I checked in and got our chips, then stashed our stuff in the car and headed towards the start. We met up with our friend Chris who was also running the half marathon. I wasn’t sure how I would do at the race, I haven’t raced half marathon distance (or longer) since last year at The North Face Endurance Half in DC. But I knew these trails and the course well (I designed it!), so I was comfortable with this race. I was hoping to run splits in the 9:30 – 10:30 range. I wanted to be closer to a 9:30 pace, but the course has a few sandy spots and some single track that can slow you down.
The runners lined up at the start line in the horse corral. Kip counted down, then started the race! There were about 125 runners, so the start wasn’t too crowded on the double track trails. Maria and I started out together, and within a few minutes we were in a small group of some other runners that we see regularly on the Starkey Trails. The small group was keeping a great pace, so I stayed with them as the runners thinned out.
The Starkey Stomp Half Marathon course is two loops (the same loop that the 10K runs, with a little extra trail for distance). I wanted to stay steady on the first loop, so I could see what I had left for the last loop. I was running pretty smooth, even through the soft sandy sections. After the first sandy section was done, I managed to take a few pictures, even! This is the group in front of me, and another of Maria right behind me.
I was surprised at how quickly the miles were ticking by. I was holding a steady pace between 9:30 and 9:40. There were several aid stations, but I had brought water with me so I didn’t stop at them. We were heading back to the corral to complete the first loop. We rounded the turn, and headed out for the rest of the run.
At this point, I had lost the pack I was running with, as they had stopped a bit longer at a water stop. I was running by myself, which I don’t mind on the trails. I find it very peaceful to trail run alone. My pace stayed right at 9:30, but I had a few quicker miles on the hard packed oak canopy sections.
With about 3 miles left to go, I was starting to feel tired, but was able to hang on to my 9:30ish pace. I could see my friend Chris up ahead. He was running strong and smooth, and that motivated me to keep pushing towards that finish. I made it through the last sandy section, then started my final push to the finish.
The finish line was just off the main trail in the horse corral. I crossed the line in 2:03:10 (my garmin showed a 9:30 pace)! I was happy I had met my goal and felt great for the whole run. Maria crossed the line just minutes behind me. We met up with Chris and had some post race goodies while we cooled down.
Results were posted, and I managed to earn first place in my age group, and 10th female overall! The age group award was a nice pint glass. Endeavor Racing always puts on great events, and I was especially happy with the inaugural Starkey Stomp Trail Race. They have already announced that they will return next year on March 10th, 2018. A Florida trail race that should be on everyone’s list!