Today was the 5th Annual Winter Buckeye Trail Run. This is a challenging course that offers a variety of distances to chose from: 5 miles, 8 miles, 13.1 miles, 18 miles, 26.2 miles, or the full 50k (31 miles). The course consits of two loops, the Brandywine Falls loop (5 miles) and the Pine Lane loop (8 miles). Both loops were out and back, ending at the Boston Mills trailhead. Lucky for us runners the weather warmed up a bit this weekend compared to the sub zero temperatures we experienced earlier in the week. At the start of the race the temperature was in the low 20's, which is a great for running. Unfortunetely we got a few inches of snow overnight, to go with the foot of snow that was already on the trail. This presented a huge challenge for all runners, as we were limited to running single file for the majority of the course. It was hard enough running on flat sections of the course (which are few and far between) but it was almost impossible to run, or even hike, uphill. Running downhill was down right dangerous, as most of us were just tyring to stay on our feet and avoid running into trees. With that being said my day started out pretty good. For the first 2.5 miles I stayed on the race leaders heels as he blazed the trail with his fancy yak trak trail gripping shoes. He killed me on the uphill sections, as I had no grip (it was like running up and down sand dunes), but I was always able to catch back up on the flat sections. At Brandywine Falls I was passed by another runner and the two leaders took off at a pace I couldn't match. By the time we got back to Boston Mills I was in 3rd place with my friends Kevin Martin and Patrick Fisher in 4th and 5th; we were about 200 meters behind the leaders. Right after passing all the screaming spectators (i.e. my wife, in-laws, and my dad) Kevin took over the pace and absolutely put the hammer down. Kevin was flying up the hills and dropped me immediately, but he did bridge the gap between the leaders. I eventually caught up with Kevin and the 2nd place runner a couple miles out from Pine Lane but the leader had pulled away and was out of sight. The three of us blazed on for about a mile before the runner in second pulled ahead on a downhill section...that might sound strange but running downhill on technical trails requires a lot of skill, especially in foot deep snow. After flying up the hill heading up to Pine Lane I had caught back up to the runner in second and to my surprise the leader was in sight. That was all the motivation I needed...I caught the 1st place runner right as we arrived at Pine Lane; he stopped for aid and I carried on. I ran alone in first place for the next 8 miles (what a thrill coming through Boston Mills as the race leader!). On my way back towards Boston Mills, after completing another Brandywine loop I lost my footing coming down a technical downhill section with stairs. I twisted my knee and with that one miss-step I knew my day was pretty much over. I had built up enough lead that I wasn't run down until we were in sight of Boston Mills, but he would continue on another 13 miles and my day was over after 18. I guess I can still claim that I won the 18 mile race but I had my eyes set on the 50k prize. All in all it was a pretty fun day out in the snow. Since I didn't push myself too long on my sore knee I think I'll be back on the trail after just a few days of rest. I'll live to fight another day.