Twists and Turns Through the World of Virtual Trail Racing

Race report written by ATRA contributor Laura Clark. Laura is an avid mountain, trail and snowshoe runner who lives in Saratoga Springs, NY, where she is a children’s librarian. Normally held in Bolton Landing, New York, the 4th annual Amy’s Adventure Race took place October 1st to 4th as a virtual event. Photos by Matt Miczek.

If you are like me, you have pretty much had it with virtual racing. What was once an appealing opportunity to at least get out of the house and do something other than hunt for toilet paper has lost its novelty. I crave more of a community connection and am tired of pretending I am the front runner forging new paths. Who am I kidding? But Amy’s Adventure Race succeeded in jolting me out of my ennui. Race Director Michele DeRossi Vidarte added a hefty dose of reality with a marked trail on the actual course. This was a pull I couldn’t resist as I would ordinarily hesitate to run this tricky route without a guide dog. Plus, Amy’s is my only remaining streak and I was determined to hang onto it.

Amy’s Park is located in the Adirondack town of Bolton Landing, New York and is part of the Lake George Land Conservancy. But this area of ponds, marshes and forests has none of the tourist hype. Despite the COVID-induced back-to-nature call there was plenty of parking. When Matt Miczek and myself were running, there were perhaps ten adventurers, including one dog, out on the trail, but we only encountered one person—not typical for any mainstream Adirondack area.

Amy's Park

Having gotten spatially disoriented every year, despite markings and folks ahead and behind me, I came forearmed with a course map, not wanting to depend on non-existent cell phone coverage. In fact, the retro approach was liberating, relying on way-finding rather than technology. We actually got to think!

Helpful Hack: I normally trim as much as possible from the trail map and then cover both sides with clear plastic package tape. In a rock/paper/scissors game, sweat and rain always win out over paper.

Since this was a race, the plan was for Matt to run at his faster pace, finish, take some scenic photos and then double back to rescue me. This worked! And because I had to pay attention not only to the course route and also the trail colors, I learned that the trail markers were well-placed and frequent. The bonus is that I will now not hesitate to return and follow some different paths. The course itself is a mix of twisty turns, narrow rocky steep trails and stretches of riverside grasslands. For the locals, the twisty trail would be roughly comparable to those of Moreau State Park (without the Staircase of Death).

This COVID year(s) will continue to prove a time of thinking outside the box, and while we would all undoubtedly prefer to return to “the way we were,” along with the trail grime we have acquired a gritty layer of resilience, confidence and creativity that will stand us in good stead once life returns to some semblance of normal. I see now that virtual racing events are as much a mental test as anything else, one that should stand us in good stead during those inevitable times during a long race when we are tempted to opt for easy and throw in the towel.

Virtual Racing

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