O2X – Windham Mountain 2014

* From: Ellen Duffey 10308268_555086614612414_3782403764330128507_n

* Event Details
Race: O2X Windham Mountain
Race Date: Saturday, October 25, 2014
Location: Windham, New York

I want to start out by saying don’t even consider registering for one of these races next season.
Do not waste your time.
And by that I mean – don’t STOP to “consider” doing it, just register. It’s that damn good.
Would I like the crowd to stay small and maintain the intimate environment I observed at Sugarbush and participated in at Windham? Hell yes… and I hope they manage to somehow grow and succeed yet keep that feeling… where it’s just a handful of people on a mountain, where the only thing being conquered are one’s own limitations.. with O2X, you do not conquer the mountain as much as you simply enjoy being on it.
Yeah…that may sound a little earthy-crunchy for a Spahten, but it’s true. O2x is a green company and they promote a natural racing experience while preserving the environment (read more here: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/06/19/former-senate-hopeful-gabriel-gomez-running-mountain-launches-new-summit-racing-venture/m3Mx14K93JsiPsFRqO4tfM/story.html)

The event was on Windham Mountain, ironically the setting of my very first OCR ever, Warrior Dash 2009, so it felt like coming home in a way. Plenty of free parking and a great lodge with clean bathrooms (big plus!) and vendors with everything from local honey to natural stone jewelry. I came home with one but not the other : )

* Race Details
The course started with a trail run leading to a cave-like tunnel and then the uphill portion began in earnest. Elevation points were well-marked throughout and there were enough switchbacks to allow you to catch your breath or, if gunning for a quick finish, to really make up some time. The separately timed “Scramble” portion had some really intense climbing and rock faces that I enjoyed figuring out how to get up. I’ll take those instead of a 6 foot wall any day. It was challenging and exhilarating to get to the top and see how far you had come. After another trail run, then the final ascent was quite steep, I bear crawled most of it and certainly didn’t look back until I got to the top!
Mother Nature’s bout of recent rains plus the sudden loss of foliage added an unforeseen obstacle here—the wet leaves made for a very slick course, and they did a great job at hiding rocks and gnarled tree roots so even when I wanted to run, I did so with very careful steps. I think the 3 earlier races in the series lucked out by not having to contend with that. Windham only offered a single diamond course, though my husband (who did double diamond in VT) said the level of difficulty was very similar.
The course was well staffed and I liked seeing medics throughout the course as well (plenty of photographers, too! I can’t wait to see the pictures and yes, they are free)
The gondola ride back down the mountain was a great finishing touch!
Add that to the “schwag”: killer canteen “medal”, super soft t shirt, a free Oktoberfest beer and Lululemon shorts- why would you NOT want to do this race?
O2X races offer a full experience race weekend, with an eco-friendly base-camp and camping the night before and fireside chats by inspirational and motivational speakers, sadly I was not able to partake in that part of the event so I cannot comment, except to say that I definitely plan to next year.
Overall this race is amazing and I hope it succeeds for years to come. I have faith that the race directors will find a way to keep the field small and the atmosphere cozy since their main goal is to leave the mountain the way they found it. I am not sure how they can balance that with successful growth, but I am rooting for them to do so!

* Rating

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