Castlewood Cup does John Lawyer

By John Lawyer

The race was the Castlewood Cup 10 mile trail run on Feb. 28th. I was coming off of straining my knee a couple of weeks before so I didn’t have high expectations for this; I just wanted to enjoy a good trail run.

This was only my second trail run/race, the first ended in a knee injury so it scared me to do another. I went down on Friday to meet up with my good friend Ben. After a night of sushi, sake, beer, and shots we were good to go. It was a cold day and some snow flurries were coming down. I’ve never been out to Castlewood before so I didn’t know what to expect, just what Ben’s told me “it’s brutal”.

We arrived a little early so we drove around to try and scout out some of the course. I quickly realized that I wasn’t prepared for this race and definitely didn’t train for this. Oh well, time to wing it, at least I wasn’t fighting a hangover like Ben was.

The estimated number of participants was 350, it was a sold out event. They changed up the course a week or so before the race, the trail is real tight so they wanted to spread out the field a little by making us charge up a huge hill within the first mile. Snow flurries were falling and the man-pres were out.

The start of the race was flat cross country style running that only lasted about a half mile and then hill number one was in your face. My plan was to sandbag the hills so I don’t hurt my knee, and that’s what I did. Hill one was rough, steep, and long. I wasn’t sure how many of these hills were even on this course, I figured probably four or so, but I was hoping for only one, especially after that first climb.

The downhills were fast and dangerous, roots, rocks, and tree grabbing switchbacks.


The second climb started about mile 3, we crossed a road and were greeted by the race director saying “breath deep boys your about to climb”. On those encouraging notes we started the long haul uphill two. This stretch seemed to never end, back and forth slow climb. The field was spread pretty thin where I was so it was getting kind of lonely, everyone was about 20-30 yards apart and running close to the same pace. My legs were feeling great but I still didn’t want to push it up the hills. The halfway point had a water station, the only indication on where I was during the race. I hate drinking water when its 36 degrees out, and I was glad I didn’t, strait to a steep climb. Drinking water and climbing up a hill always sucks, and I had conformation of that from the guy behind me who was cursing the situation. I decided to slow up even slower to wait for the cursing water drinker so I wouldn’t have to run by myself, not sure if he wanted any company but he didn’t have a choice. We made conversation from time to time when the tail flattened out. It helped me relax and enjoy the run but I think he was pushing petty hard.

A few more ups and downs later (I started to lose track of where I was and how many hills I’ve climbed) we rounded a corner to the creek. After seeing some of the pictures of the race I realized that this was about 15 feet wide and close to a foot deep in the middle. Not fun, but oh so fun.

Right after the creek a guy passed us both and I quickly responded knowing we were nearing the end. Picking up the pace felt great, I started pulling away from my water buddy, the trail was smoothing out a little, and then it happened. I planted my left foot and the ankle rolled. My whole body hit the cold ground in pain. I grabbed my ankle and screamed some unknown sayings. Water buddy slowed to see if I was alright and quickly noticed I wasn’t. I crawled to a nearby log and sat down.

The slightest touch of the ground with my foot was unbearable. Two guys came running down the trail to rescue me, Jeff Bockhorn (team 180) and the race director. Thankfully we were only about a quarter mile from the tree line were there was a road. Being tall and lanky didn’t help when it came down to hauling me out but they were able to get me to the road and pick me up with a car and drive me to mine.


Dealing with any injury is no fun at all, especially when it’s at the beginning of the season and you’re unsure how long it will take to heal. Day by day is the way I’m dealing with this and it’s hard to hold yourself back from doing anything at all. But rest assure that there are people out there that have been though it and will encourage you all the way.

A special thanks to the 180 team that flooded my phone and e-mail with concern and support, it was well received. Two for two on trail runs with getting hurt, I think I’ll stay away from those for a while.

– John

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