Clinton Lake Trail Race Report

by Adam Hawkins

My New Year’s Resolution for 2011 was simple: I would participate in a race or a triathlon every month. Since I love trail running, I tried to find as many trail races as close to home as possible.  Luckily, there would be a trail race held in March in nearby Clinton.


This was the first year a 10 mile race was offered at Clinton Lake. It is held in conjunction with a 30 mile ultra on the same day. I knew a 30 miler was out of the question, but I figured I’d be okay doing a 10 mile race.


The past few weeks of training had not gone smoothly. I had been suffering a fever and chest congestion. In spite of being on vacation, my ailments did not allow for many good miles. Nevertheless, I had paid my fee, and I was going to race.


I took off for Clinton before dawn. I stopped at a Circle K in Forsyth to grab a few bananas. About 30 minutes later, I had arrived at the race start. The bad part…I had accidentally gone to the 30 mile race check-in. After traversing back to Route 54, I got to the proper check in and prepared myself.


Bus transportation from our area to the start/finish was mandatory. The bus left at 7am, our race was not set to start until 8am. That was a long time to be out on a cold morning. Everywhere I looked, people in tights were shivering. Some were hopping up and down in an effort to keep warm.  I can’t remember the last time I was so cold at a race.


After a few words of thanks and instructions, we were off. There weren’t a large number of runners. As usual, I started out slow. We were on asphalt for a bit, and then we turned into the woods.


The trails surrounding Clinton Lake were in great shape. I found myself in the middle of a 4-person pack. We were together for the first few miles. Knowing that my fitness was not where it needed to be, I took it easy, walking most of the uphills.

I felt pretty good through the first part of the race. There was an aid station just past mile 5. Since there was an ultra going on at the same time, the aid station had Success sports drink, fruit and salty snacks. I grabbed a quick drink, some fruit and headed back into the woods.


While I was feeling a bit tired, I kept concentrating on the next mile marker. I kept walking the uphills, but it seemed like my recovery time kept increasing after every one. I found myself walking more and more.


After mile 7, I found myself in quasi-survival mode. My lack of training was starting to become more apparent. Once I passed mile 8, I started hitting the water bottle. I passed mile 9 and felt my right calf starting to cramp. I paused to stretch, and thankfully, it never seized up on me.


I crossed the road and entered the parking lot, curving around the cars toward the finish line. I was going at a decent clip, and felt relieved that it was over. I had finished in 2:04.


I took some water and fruit and waited for the bus to take us back to our cars. The volunteers had made four kinds of homemade soup, and bread was available, too. There was also a pony keg of Murphy’s Stout beer.


The goodie bag included a LaSportiva technical shirt, a copy of Trail Runner magazine, a nice pen and two tubes of lib balm. Overall, a fine offering.


I was very impressed with the organization of this race. Mile markers on the course were great. The aid station was awesome, and the post-race offerings were top notch. The goodie bag was solid, and the race was close to home.


I recommend The Clinton Lake Trail Race to any trail running fan.



Adam Hawkins is the Creative Services Director for Neuhoff Media Radio.