knoxville xterra race reportRace: Knoxville Xterra Half Marathon Trail Race

Runner: Tyler F

Race Date: 06/02/2018

Location: Knoxville, TN

Results: 28 of 89

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/248778416

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  1. Race Volunteers were all super rad and kind.
  2. Trail/Course was marked extremely well.
  3. Post race Trailhead Beer Market had free beers on tap for finishers.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

  1. The red clay mud on trail that stuck to your shoes and felt like you were carrying 10 extra lbs. I run these trails fairly often and it’s normally really nice and super fun single track. It had practically rained a week straight leading up to race day, and even rained the night before so there’s not much anyone could have really done about the mud factor that’s just part of it. It made it really slow going just trying to stay upright much less running.
  2. Everything else was honestly really nice. I really enjoyed this race.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

The weirdest thing about it to me was the registration process as well as locating post race results. The main web page reroutes you to another site that you have to register through. Also, if someone hadn’t posted a link on social media with the results I likely never would have been able to find them.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

Honestly having a plan and sticking to it was one of the biggest highlights of this race for me. My super rad coach gave me some solid reminders and things to think about pre race, and they were all spot on. In the past shorter distances like this I generally have a plan and then never stick to it, but this time around I stayed with it and was stoked with how it went. Crushing people on down hills was the real highlight though haha. Don’t get in the way of a big guy crushing some downhill!

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

This race was pretty straight forward to be honest. If I had any advice that would just be to have a plan and stick to it. Also, this race has tons of “micro hills” so take advantage of the down hills sections. A lot of it is single track mountain bike trail so there are tons of rollers and what I would call micro hills.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Stick to the plan. The main thing I took away from this race for me was that I had more to give and could have finished a few minutes faster easily. I was hesitant and more reserved at the front end of the race which was good but I think I waited a little too long to crank it up.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

There are a handful of road crossings and even a short section of road running. There were volunteers at most all those intersections guiding you but if for some reason there aren’t, a big leaf is spray painted on the ground to signify the urban wilderness route.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

This race is in the heart of Knoxville, and is mostly all wooded single track. It is def. pretty, but no great big open views or anything super fancy, but for its location, to have that much trail and be in the woods without ample traffic sounds and noise is awesome.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

The strava link posted on the race website which is referenced above says around 1300′ of elevation but my watch came in around 1,800. It’s a fairly easy course but those micro hills and rollers make it hard to get in a groove and will wear you out.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Everything felt great on the organization front.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

There were a total of 89 runners for this year, and a new course record.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

Honestly it was all straight forward and I registered like 4-5 days before the race. Super easy, plenty of hotel rooms in and around Knoxville unless there is another major event going on, and the bib pick up was the evening before and super easy to find. There is plenty of event parking, and directions are super easy to navigate.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

2 aid stations for the half.. One around 4.8 the other around 9ish. Standard fare otherwise.

Weather and typical race conditions

HOT and HUMID

This year it was suuuuuuuper muddy because of all the rain, but generally these trails stay fairly dry and are good to go.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

Just bring a smile and whatever type of hydration storage you prefer. I wear a vest for ease, and with it as humid as it is I drink a lot of fluids.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Absolutely tons of opportunities for them to hike out on trail if they wanted or at aid stations. Otherwise the Start/Finish is a great place to post up.

How’s the Swag?

Tech Shirt, and finisher’s medal

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

5 star race. I really enjoyed it and had a good time. This would be a good race for someone looking to do their first trail half or for seasoned vets.