Vineyard Stomp Trail 5K Race 2 – Stony Knoll Vineyard – August 4, 2012

This morning I ran in my first trail race and it was certainly an interesting experience.  This was the second race in the Vineyard Stomp series, a series of 4 trail runs at local wineries.  I missed the first race as it was the same day as Ultimate Runner, but it sounds like I didn’t miss much, some mud and creeks to traverse and two loops around a small vineyard.  I don’t care how short a run is, you start that second loop and think “crap, I gotta do all that again?” This route, while quite circuitous was just a single loop.

For the trail running purists out there (like my friend Carmen) there was only about a quarter mile of the race that was hardcore trail, through the woods, over fallen trees, narrow single file path etc.  BUT.. every inch of this race was most definitely cross country.  A mowed path around the vineyard and through and around several fields. A tiny portion was on a gravel road, but even that was rutted and big rocks, not the smooth road like at Salem Lake.

As I pulled into the winery I saw where the course crossed the road and saw the mowed path and the orange flags and several steep hills and immediately thought to myself… “Oh boy… this is going to be interesting”… The course started in the grass parking lot, cut out in front of the tasting room and up the rocky gravel road past several 100 year old tobacco sheds and then turned across the main entrance along the road, after this point it was all grass from here on out.  At about 0.5 mile there was a very steep downhill portion (about 45 degrees), which they had warned us about, and you had two choices, walk down or roll down, I decided to walk.  After the mega hill, we carefully trotted around a pond (the path angled towards the pond, of course!) then began a series of back and forth runs up and down the vine rows.  This was interesting to actually run IN the vines which didn’t even happen during the Shelton “Running the Vineyard” race.  The we circled around two fields that had something other than grapes planted, not sure what… then this is where things got dicey.  At about 1.75 miles we ducked into the woods (literally ducked under branches) onto a very narrow trail, which race director Bill Gibbs described as a “virgin trail”… the first part in the woods was a steep uphill so I made a quick tactical decision to walk through this portion.  This was hardcore trail, dodging branches, stepping over fallen trees, very narrow path definitely single file through here.  After clearing this it was back out to the fields and crossing behind the tasting room building, similar to the way we started, then down across the road again for another series of shuttle runs back and forth through the vineyard, the second vineyard had grapes on the vine.

(No, I didn’t take these while running)

I was very tempted to grab some grapes off the vines, but I had no clue if they were even close to ripe and good to eat.  I’d hate to be choking on bitter grapes at the end of the race.  After the last couple trips through the vines we followed the edge of the vineyard down to the finish.  Now for some reason I can’t explain (because I trust that Ultimate Race Management got it right) my Garmin measured this race VERY short, at 2.85 miles.  I don’t know if the elevation changes mess with the “horizontal distance” measurement.  You would think the Garmin could triangulate if it measures both distance and elevation change but maybe those two functions are separate.  The elevation change was not too bad overall, 400some feet ascent and 400some feet descent, but most of the elevation changes were steep and sudden.  So it’s flat for a while, and then, for example, the one hill that’s 100 yards straight down, well maybe the  Garmin is reading that as the straight distance at the bottom of that triangle, which would be much shorter, but can a couple of hills knock off 3 tenths of a mile?  I don’t know.  I can’t explain this.  The course was well marked and as far as I know I didn’t miss any of it.

I purposefully took this race slowly, I had no idea what the terrain was going to be like, and this was supposed to be more of a fun run than a hardcore race.  My splits are all over the place thanks to where I had to walk portions, and of course with the distance being funky, that effects my pace.  Mile one was 13:00, which is not bad, I was on an 11:30 pace until the huge downhill, so that slowed me down, then mile 2 was 16:58 which included the walking in the woods portion and then mile 3 (or the 0.85 mile according to my Garmin) was 11:48 or a 13:58 pace.  Overall pace for 2.85 miles of 14:41.  However, if that were 3.1 miles (and I believe it was) then that pace is actually 13:48 per mile, which is not bad at all for being purposefully slow.  And I didn’t fall down!

After the finish was a pretty good spread of food, surprisingly NO BANANAS! but plenty of other fruit, which was nice for a change, I grabbed a big bunch of grapes and a bottle of water and found a spot to sit down.  They had a table that had hamburgers and hotdogs and they were pointing us that way… only to find out the hamburgers and hotdogs cost money… (no signs… they told me as I was grabbing a plate..) which… is all well and good.. but I didn’t have any cash since I never carry cash.  So I grabbed a croissant from the free food table and made do (and grabbed a Krispy Kreme for the road as I was heading out).

Now that I had some food in my belly it was time for the wine tasting! This is one of the main reasons I was here.

Very cool glass they gave us to use for the tasting (and to keep of course).

They had three smaller wineries with tables set up outside, places I had never heard of and I tried one wine from each of the three and wasn’t terribly impressed with any of them.  So I headed inside hoping that a tasting from the host winery was also included (they didn’t specifically mention this, just the “wine walk” with the wineries outside, but it would be stupid for the host winery not too, and turned out it was included).  I did a full tasting flight for the host winery, reds, whites and sweet.  Surprisingly, while I don’t normally like red wine, my favorite was the Merlot and I actually bought a bottle of it to bring home.

Thanks to Stony Knoll Vineyards for hosting us, and big thumbs up to Ultimate Race Management for another great event! Between Ultimate Runner, Beat the Heat and now this, these guys are on the ball, and three totally different events.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Race #4 (I have another race the day of race 3) at Round Peak Vineyards in October.. weather should be beautiful by then.

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2 Comments

  1. wow sounds like a great run!! Bill Gibbs does not disappoint! The Wine glass alone is reason enough to do it- that and perhaps the option to roll down/ ski down the hill-

    • I can’t decide whether the glass should be in the kitchen or on the trophy shelf, but a friend told me “Good wine glasses should be used!” and also, when I run the one in October, I’ll get a second one.. so maybe one is a glass and one is a trophy? Bill Gibbs does not disappoint. After Ultimate Runner, Beat the Heat and now this I am seriously impressed with Ultimate Race Management.


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  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.