Tough Terrain: Repping Team Bacon at the Naylor Mill 7K

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Joe Andrews captured this action shot of me running the Naylor Mill 7K on Aug. 3. (Joe Andrews photo)

I knew going into the Naylor Mill 7K that I would not be going at a fast pace — and I was right. But despite the tough terrain, this race is a fun one. This was the second year this race was held, and this year, participants could be part of Team Bacon or Team Scrapple (for anyone not from the Mid-Atlantic, here’s what scrapple is). There were also a few people on Team Veggie.

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Here’s my Team Bacon shirt. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Each team had a unique shirt — Team Bacon’s shirts were light blue with a running bacon ahead of a running scrapple, and Team Scrapple’s shirts were green with the scrapple winning. Team Veggie’s shirts were fuchsia and had some nice smiling veggies on them.

For the race, though, a lot of people don’t wear the race shirt, so members of Team Bacon were asked to wear blue and members of Team Scrapple were asked to wear green. I wore a blue tank top.

I picked up my shirt and bib easily outside Smokin’ BBQ at The Pavilion at 1400 South the evening before the race.

The race was held at the Naylor Mill Forest Trail and started at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3. I’d seen on social media that there would be bacon doughnuts and scrapple doughnuts available at the race. I wanted to get there early enough to get one, because last year, I missed out on the doughnuts. I ended up getting the last one!

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Here I am with my bacon doughnut before starting the Naylor Mill 7K. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Since this was a cup-less race, I decided to bring a water bottle because I knew I would be out on the trails for a while.

The course starts by going around some of the softball/baseball fields at the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex, which I appreciated, because it helped to spread people out before we got onto the single-track trails. It also helped bump up my average per-mile pace.

I finished the first mile in 9:30, which would be my fastest mile of the day by far. Once we got onto the trails, it didn’t seem that bad at first. I felt like I was keeping up a decent pace, but the hills were still to come. I had gotten into a pretty good spot where where I did pull over to let a couple people pass, and I passed a couple people, but there was not an extensive amount of passing — there really isn’t much room for that anyway.

I ran the second mile in 13:40. There was a water and bacon stop when we were nearly three miles into the race (I’m recalling this from a week ago, but I’m pretty sure this is where it was). I got a piece of bacon that a young girl was holding out for runners, I got some water, and race organizer Trent’s wife, Denise, gave me a cool washcloth for the back of my neck. It was hot out there!

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Here’s my evidence of falling on my back during the Naylor Mill 7K. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I believe it was soon after this that I fell. I was going over what I guess would be considered an obstacle — a triangle-like shape of logs — when my foot slipped and I fell onto my back. I got dirty and ended up with a bruise or two, but I was not injured. However, I did walk a little bit right after falling to recover. It turned out that the person behind me fell the same way. After that, I avoided any sort of obstacle because I was worried about falling again.

That third mile, I ran (ran-walked) in 18:16 — nearly double the time that it had taken me to run the first mile. As we continued, it seemed like there were more steep hills to tackle. I walked the steepest ones — and I’m sure I walked some of the less-steep ones as well.

In the woods, the trails were narrow and there were plenty of roots to dodge.

Near the end, the course seemed to go back-and-forth a lot — I would see people who were ahead of me coming toward me and then I’d see the people who were behind me. The last mile or so seemed a little bit never-ending. Once I made it out of the woods, the finish arch was very close.

My finish time was 1:08:59 according to the results — 1:08:26 on my watch. My watch also logged the distance as 4.75 miles, which meant an average pace of 14:24 per mile. People’s watches and apps showed different amounts, and running in forest trails definitely could have affected the GPS. However, I was more than 10 minutes slower than last year, so I think (and hope) the course was a little bit longer — we did go around a baseball/softball field that wasn’t there last year.

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Here I am with a handful of bacon after the race. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Right before I crossed the finish line, I was handed a pink ice pop — my favorite flavor — by a little girl and then went over to sit on the curb. I felt exhausted! I ended up talking to a friend, and by the time I went to find more bacon, I didn’t see any. (Although I did see a lot of scrapple.) Later, someone brought out the bacon that I think had been at the aid station, and I had a handful.

My watch logged 288 feet of elevation gain. That might not seem like a lot, but it was a lot for Salisbury, and the terrain was tough — I didn’t want to go too fast down the hills because I might fall, and it was hard to make it up the hills quickly, too.

Although my time was a lot slower than a normal road or easier trail race (like the trails at the Salisbury City Park), it was nice to see that it wasn’t just me — I think all the runners were affected to some extent by the terrain.

The course was extremely well-marked. I have gotten lost on these trails before — when there wasn’t a race going on — but it was marked with pink flags, and at spots where it would have been possible to go another way, there was an “X.” The race also only cost $15 to enter, so it was very affordable.

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The bibs were really cool — and personalized! Here’s my bib with a bottle of Detach (review to come on that) before the race. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Team Bacon won the race — the Top 10 scores from each team helped determine the score, so I did not end up contributing to our team, but at least I did not hurt the team, either.

I knew a large number of the runners at the race, so it was great to be out at the trails on a Friday night with friends. I’m also friends with the race organizer, Trent.

I had fun and definitely hope to be part of Team Bacon next year!

Read my BibRave review here.

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9 thoughts on “Tough Terrain: Repping Team Bacon at the Naylor Mill 7K

  1. Great review Vanessa, and it sounds like you ran a great time! I know you said that your time wasn’t as fast as your time last year, but you have to ask if it was as humid in 2017 as it was this time around? I felt like the heat and humidity factor slowed me down more than the course itself did, even though it was a pretty hard course. I was also wondering if the course could have been a little longer than last year’s, ’cause this year no one broke 40 minutes whereas last year several people did… And there were some strong runners up front! At first I thought it was the heat, but now that you mention it, it is possible that this year’s course could have been a little longer than last year’s course. I wasn’t there last year, but if you say we ran around a ballfield that wasn’t on last year’s course, than maybe it was a little longer than 7K. I enjoyed the race, and I hope to be back.

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    1. It might be an interesting idea for me to track the temperature and humidity from year to year! It certainly felt extremely humid, but I’m not sure exactly how it compared to last year. I think my memory blocks out how hot some races are, because I keep signing up for them! 🙂

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  2. Perfect account of this trail run…..my first time, and although about half way through I was thinking , what have I gotten myself into?……I began more driven and I would consider this my favorite race to date…..certainly not my fastest, but definitely the most challenging and rewarding !

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