This year the American Team Trials were held in conjunction with the US Individual Championships down in Carrollton, Georgia. I and fellow HPP athlete Alex Bergstrom made a special trip South for the occasion.
The first big A-meet of the year is always interesting because nobody yet knows who's who after the winter. Also, the terrain was a bit of a mystery since the maps were entirely new and the 14km Blue course supposedly had only 120m of climb when the model map looked like this:
The weekend started off with an urban sprint on the University of West Georgia Campus. The course was reasonably technical with a few interesting long legs towards the end. You can see Alex's killer instinct surfacing as he runs through the spectator control:
Next was the mystery Long. As it turns out much of the course traversed the flood plane of the river which was pretty flat. Even then I ended up climbing 270m, more then twice the advertised amount. Admittedly some of my route choices weren't quite optimal but nothing significant. It was a fun course with a few technical challenges, particularly the occasional expanse of featureless woods to test your compass bearing.
Finally on Sunday we ran the Middle. This was the race I was most looking forward to. Having run ~16km quite hard the day before I knew I would feel more tired then usual but also that everyone else was in the same boat. What I wasn't prepared for was the prickly nature of the forest. Spear grass, cacti and hard to see, unforgivingly spiky vines that don't break when you unsuspectingly dive into them, made running fast and focusing on the course a constant challenge.
In the end the race went well for both Alex and I. The RouteGadget for the Blue course is a real nail biter. Select all the runners then watch as the top five of us finish within a single minute!