I have some time to write some comments about the course. If anybody has any further questions, let me know via email@example.com and I'll answer your questions to the best of my ability.
The photos are here... http://gofarthersports.blogspot.com/2011/02/south-mountain-trails-pictures-ahead-of.html
1) I only ran on part of the eastern 10 mile loop of the course, which is much more frequently traveled by people in the park. The western course is less frequently traveled, and could be different in terms of snow and ice.
2) The temperature at the beginning of my run was 30 degrees.
3) I initially was going to run the whole eastern loop, but had to cut the loop in the middle because of time constraints. I was going very slow out there due to the conditions. I did not photograph the middle part of the eastern loop. I only photographed the initial 3 miles and the last 3 miles of the loop.
4) I wore XC shoes with a 1/4 inch spike on the trails. Even though the spikes worked to some extent, I did come close to slipping several times out there, especially the downhill at the end of the eastern loop.
5) The trails that I encountered were HARD PACKED with ice and snow. And it was still very deep. My guess is that two warm days on Thursday and Friday will *not* clear the trails of the snow and ice. I would highly suggest anyone running to take Microspikes, Yaktrax, screw shoes, XC spikes, etc. with him/her to this race. You might need them.
6) There are DEEP RUTS in the ice that can potentially injure an ankle. I did run in 30 degree temps, so this *can* change for the better with warmer weather conditions on Saturday. Hopefully the slushier snow will squash the ruts during the race.
7) There were some sporadic spots on the trails that were devoid of snow. That was because of running water through those spots. Although better than ice, they were very muddy.
8) The downhill at the end of the eastern loop going into the start/finish area is partially paved on the upper part by a bulldozer (was parked there when I went by it). The lower part however was slick with ice. Please be careful going down that hill! I almost fell a couple of times despite running with the spikes.
That's about it. To all those people who are running, I wish you well. I will be down there to either volunteer/spectate/cheer you on on Saturday!
See you then. :-)
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