When training for a half or full marathon, adding small races to the mix can be beneficial. The schedule I used, “Hal Higdon’s Half-Marathon: Novice,” suggested running a 10K midway through. In the Sheridan area, summer months are loaded with activities and races are no exception. So, finding a race in my time frame worked out very well. The fact that it happened to be at Antelope Butte was icing on the cake.
One project that our community has been focusing on is the reopening of the Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area. While our family had never been past Burgess Junction in the Bighorn Mountains, my husband took a particular interest in Antelope Butte. He wanted to check out the area and what better way than at their annual Summer Fest.
I signed up for the race based on the date and distance alone. Like a newbie, I never thought to ask about the trail or elevation. The night before the race, my mother and I were talking about my upcoming adventure. Due to the high altitude, she warned me not to be discouraged if my performance was not what I thought it should be.
Being a headstrong person, I kind of brushed her off. After all, not long ago, I had finished a 13.1 mile trail run. This is just 8 miles. Easy peasy…no problem.
Ha! Boy was I wrong.
I arrived full of anticipation for a good, quick run. The morning was bright, crisp and absolutely perfect. There were about 40 people in the 8-mile category. Which was a bit smaller than I have become accustomed to. As nine o’clock rolled around, we began lining up at the start line ready to go.
BANG! We were off!
The race started immediately with an uphill climb. It was then that my mother’s warning became real. As I tried to run this intense mountain trail, my head started to feel a little foggy. Breathing was more labored and I began to question my sanity. This was no Mickelson dream path. There were tree roots sticking out, run offs from heavy rains, loose rocks and deep ruts.
Eventually, I made my way through the grueling woods and was greeted by the most stunning piece of earth I had ever seen. The glory that surrounded me was so breathtaking I almost stopped to drink it in. Trying to describe what I saw would not do it justice. It is definitely something that has to be seen in real life. Looking back, it was this part of the course that made all the crazy, dangerous obstacles worth it. I would run this race over and over just to catch a glimpse of this mountain splendor.
We finished the morning listening to the Dave Munsick Band, while sipping cold drinks. The atmosphere was light and casual. A delightful, relaxed, family oriented gathering. People came to have a good time and support a wonderful cause.
Already my children are looking forward to next year. In fact, they mentioned that summer fest should happen every weekend. While that may get old fast, we have been inspired to take a camping trip in the area. I look forward to sharing what I experienced with my family as well as becoming more involved with restoring the Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area to its original glory and then some.