Trap Pond Marathon Race Report

Trap Pond State Park

Trap Pond State Park

The Trap Pond Half Marathon, Marathon and 50k in Laurel, Delaware is an old school trail race.  No big sponsor arches, or even awards for the top finishers, max of 100 runners total, a cool medal and the chance to run laps around the namesake Trap Pond at the Trap Pond State Park.  I am in the process of running 50 marathon in 50 states before I turn 50, and I had to be in DC for work, and this race was the weekend before I needed to be in the Nation’s Capital.

As I mentioned in my open I am working on 50 marathons in all 50 states before I turn 50 in 2027.  I travel a bit for work and I am always looking for a race if I am traveling.  I prefer trail races if at all possible and have run several ultras in addition to 18 marathons before this one. However, I only had 9 states.  I can now say I have completed a marathon in 10 states.

Trap Pond Marathon

Dogwoods were in full bloom!

The Trap Pond Marathon intrigued me because it had the half marathon and 50k distance in addition to the marathon. The course is a loop course around Trap Pond in Trap Pond State Park. You drive through rural Delaware past farms to get to the park which is an island of trees in an area of large open farm fields.  The race is put on by Altis Endurance Sports, and they offer several races of various distances throughout the Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia area.  As I mentioned it is a no frills race, but well supported with three aide stations on the 4.5 or so mile loop course. The aide stations had typical ultra fare – sweet and salty snacks, water, Gatorade, and Pepsi beverages. It is a small race with a max of 100 runners. There were 18 in the marathon, 21 in the half marathon and 24 or so in the 50k.

The course for the marathon and 50k starts with an out and back, then laps around the lake.  The marathon runs 5 laps, and the 50k was 6 laps. The half marathon starts in a different spot and does almost 3 laps.  The course is almost all crushed rock trail with a couple small road sections at each end of the lake.  The front half of the course where the race starts is a very wide gravel road and the back half of the loops is wide enough for two runners but felt very much like single track. The back half of the course is also very curvy with what seemed like no straight sections but rather small turns every 20 to 30 feet as the course wove through the forest.  There course plays peek-a-boo with the lake with the exception of the start finish line and where you cross the lake on the road.  The trail is not technical and is very flat.  My watch showed 59 feet of gain over the course of the marathon.

Trap Pond Marathon

Trap Pond Marathon Start

I made the mistake of checking the entrants list on Ultra Signup and saw that I was the top ranked runner in the marathon.  I was nervous about this because I have never won a race and I am typically slow in the 4-5 hour range for a marathon. However, I was also excited and figured if I could maintain a 10 minute per mile average I would finish in 4:20 and beat the Ultra Signup predicted time of 4:32.  I am glad to report that I was able to maintain a 10 minute per mile pace and finished in 4:19 and was third overall, and the second male.  I never really knew who was in front of me but I was told my place as I came through each lap. I was in fourth place for the first three laps, but moved into third place on the fourth lap, and that is where I finished.

Trap Pond Marathon

Trap Pond – the namesake of the race

Pacing is important. I find that most runners start too fast.  I try to follow my mantra of would I be happy with my starting pace at the beginning when I get to the end? In this case, I had to hold back to stay at or just under 10 minutes per mile at the beginning.  I am glad I did though because it was definitely tough to maintain at the end.  I try to use my watch for pacing, but found that weaving in and out of the trees made it difficult to maintain a steady pace on the Suunto so I relied on running by feel.  I visualized my pace and really thought about how I felt and the amount of exertion in each stride.  It may sound hokey, but I think it important. I just worked on being smooth and steady with good breathing.  I am happy with my result today, and it is only the second time I have ever had a podium finish.

Trap Pond Marathon

Trap Pond Marathon Finisher Medal

No race report is complete without a discussion about my running kit and nutrition.  My clothing consisted of Nike Pro Combat compression shorts, Nike Dry Fit running shorts, a super lightweight technical tee from Stoic, Injinji Performance Run 2.0 socks and a wicking ball cap.  I also wore my buff as a neck gaiter for the start of the race but ditched it after the out and back because I warmed up and didn’t need it.  I wore my Altra Lone Peak 2.0’s which still look pretty decent for around 250 total miles on them.  I used Body Glide to prevent chaffing including around each of my toes and finished with no chaffing and no blisters.  Hydration wise, I carried my trusty Ultimate Direction Fast Draw and no vest since the aide stations were so close together.  My nutrition was on point today.  I used Carbo Pro to start with and then again at the beginning of the third loop and the fourth loop.  I used GU energy gels, the first one about 40 mins in, then again around the last third of the second loop and one more on the 3rd loop about half way in.  I also grabbed a few chips at the aide stations since I was craving some salt.  It was in the low 60s and I was sweating pretty well, so I considered taking an S! cap, but I never did.  I did use Gatorade and water in my hand bottle from the aide stations, but since I was working hard to stay on pace I did not linger at the aide stations very long to take advantage of the smorgasbord of goodies.

Overall the Trap Pond marathon was a great race. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a low key race that harkens back to the early days of trail racing.

Trap Pond Marathon

Bridge over the Trap Pond Outlet

The following pictures are of the course in the direction that the races are run, after the out and back at the beginning.

Trap Pond Marathon

Trap Pond State Park Nature Center

Trap Pond Marathon

Trap Pond Trail 1

Trap Pond Marathon

Trap Pond Trail 2

Trap Pond Marathon

Trap Pond Trail 3

Trap Pond Marathon

Trap Pond Trail 4

Trap Pond Marathon

Trap Pond Trail 5

Trap Pond Marathon

Trap Pond Trail 6

Trap Pond Marathon

Trap Pond Trail 7

Trap Pond Marathon

Trap Pond Trail 8

Trap Pond Marathon

Trap Pond Trail 9

Trap Pond Marathon

Coming to the finish