Gary Brown Memorial C&O Canal Race Recap

***Congratulations to Ashley H, who won the free Spartan Race Entry!! Hope you have a great time at the location of your choice!***

This morning was ideal for a race! The air was cool enough to wear a jacket on the way and I did not feel an ounce of humidity. It was going to be perfect! No heat to slow me down!

The race also took place on the C&O Canal, which is where I typically run...just downstream about 20 miles. The path is fairly simple, mainly flat, but when you encounter any hills, they are very gradual and easy to withstand. 

These are the type of racing conditions that lead to PRs. You are not your wasting energy on hills. You are also not dying of a heat stroke half way through as the majority of this course is shaded. You are able to focus solely on your pace!

I arrived, trying to keep myself from competing. I felt that if I went into the race, running at a 5K pace, I would die before the end. My goal was to maintain my regular pace of 8:45 and whatever outcome that would bring, then I would live with it.

My running pal, Monica (purple) and me (turquoise) prepping
for the race
When the race began, I had no choice but to begin at an easy pace. The canal is not wide like a road way, therefore, it was difficult to pass other runners. You simply have to wait until some distance themselves from the pack or fall behind. It really helped me keep my pace goal. Even when the bulk of runners dissipated, I was able to maintain my pace without letting my adrenaline get the best of me.

Since this was an "out and back" course, I began seeing the elitists already on their way back when I was barely 15 minutes in. I found it exciting rather than discouraging to see how these runners pushed themselves ahead! I cheered the top 3 on when they passed by.

During a lot of the race, I felt like I was alone. I was in a "No Man's Land" for about 3 out of the 5 miles and preferred it that way so I could keep the non-competitive attitude. I continued to check my pace and saw that I was keeping to goal. After the first 2 miles, I decided to kick it up a little bit. I was feeling strong and felt that an 8:30 pace would be appropriate.

After the first half was complete, I began to wonder if I was going to PR. I saw my time was closing in on 22 minutes at 2.5 miles. At that rate, I was seeing a finish time around 43 minutes. I decided that on mile 3, I would kick it up again. This time, my pace was around 8:15. It wasn't until mile 4 that I felt a little bit of fatigue, but at that point, I was not going to slow down. I briefly checked my Garmin and saw that my pace was 7:45, my fastest mile in a 5 mile run ever.

As I approached the finish line, I saw the time clock approaching the 42 minute mark, so I booked it (thankfully, it was a downhill stretch).

I made it. Finish time of 41:35, a PR. I came in 81st out of 132 runners. I was the 23rd woman out of 48. There were A LOT of really strong competitors in this race. Most seemed to be high school students who participated on the Track and XC teams.

Although I enjoyed the race, I did not like how they grouped us age-wise. My age group was 18-29, which was the widest age gap in the entire race. So it was a little discouraging that the majority of the age group awards were given to those under 20 in that category. But that was my only gripe.

I still finished with a smile. Not only did I have an incredible PR, but I also had my #1 Fan, Peter and our puppy, who was joining my cheering squad for the first time. Everyone just loved him!

This race definitely gets a high rank 9/10. It only loses the 1 point due to my annoyance with age grouping. But definitely a great race for those who like taking the race off the road for a change. Also, some great competitors, like Susan Graham-Gray participated. She won the race despite being legally blind. Obviously, this woman has not let that affect her! She has been in the Olympic Trails. CRAZY!

Anyway, on to the next race! 2 more weeks!!!
Have a great Saturday!!!

1 comment

  1. Congratulations! The C&O Canal towpath is a great place to run! We at the C&O Canal Trust, the official nonprofit partner of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, are raising funds to help maintain the integrity of the towpath and improve the visitor experience at the Park. To learn how you can help preserve this national treasure, please visit


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