As I came out, my wife, Alba was standing there taking a picture. She held out the water bottle I had forgotten and I snagged it diving back into the trail. Sometimes it is so uncanny how much she and I think alike. The water couldn’t have come at a better time, as I really prefer my own bottle over fumbling with a paper cup. As I ran the second half of the race, it would prove invaluable as I used it to stay hydrated throughout the race without stopping.
In the process of grabbing my bottle, I pass Stan who had decided to grab water from the water stop. We almost ran into each other as we reenter the trail. I give him the motion to get back in front of me. He politely responded for me to go ahead. I informed him that I liked his pace and would prefer he hop up front instead of just passing me later.
Not more than 50 yards back into the trail began what would be a frequent occurence during this second half loop: a steep, steep, rocky climb. In the very rocky trails of Uwharrie, a fall could lead to a loss of teeth, broken bones or a concussion.
As we got about half-way up the first steep hill, Stan and I passsed a couple of fellow racers. Further along the second half, Stan began to extend the distance between the two of us. We came across two other runners who we had been following several paces back for most of the race. They had stopped for some reason which gave us the opportuniy to pass. At that point, Stan really picked the pace up a bit. He later tolds me that he did so to ensure a decent lead on the guys we had just passed. I had the same thought as I picked my pace up as well, both to extend my lead but to also try and catch up with Stan.
We dump back out onto the gravel road we had raced up in the beginning. Stan is nowhere in sight. This proved to be somewhat deflating as I had hoped to have caught up by now. Stan would later report that he attempted to keep just ahead of me to keep out of my sight. His strategy had proven to work just as he planned. Had I seen him around one of the turns ahead, I would have been motivated to catch up.