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Passing on singletrack (Read 176 times)


Not dead. Yet.

    I have my first trail race coming up next weekend.  The last three miles are a pretty steep downhill singletrack, and in training I've found that I make up a lot of time by picking up speed as I run down it.  In training I average about 12 min/mile on the uphills, 8:00-9:00 on the flats, and on the downhill I get down to below 7:00 min/mile.  I'm worried that during the race, when I need to be running that downhill faster than I ever have, that I'm going to get stuck behind people who don't like to run them like I do.

     

    There is actually single track in the very beginning as well, but I'm less worried about it, as  it's a pretty steep uphill and leads to the biggest hill on the course.

     

    So, a couple of questions.  What it is the etiquette for passing on singletrack  during races?  Am I going to fall on my ass if I try to pass people that aren't getting out of the way?  Or am I making a big deal out of nothing and everybody at my pace will be running it as fast as me?  Any other advice?

     

    Also, how should I line up to minimize the damage in the first uphill?  Should I line up nearer to the front so I don't get stuck behind too many people?  I worry that if I do that it will force me to increase my pace too much in the beginning, and I will pay for it later.  Or should I line up farther back and just do the best I can through traffic until it clears up?  This way I'll save some energy for the end, but will probably sacrifice time up front.

     

    Appreciate your advice!

    How can we know our limits if we don't test them?

      Based on the handful of trail races I've run, I'd say play it by ear. If there's a pileup at a certain point everyone is probably just going to have to slow down.

       

      If there is a little bit of a shoulder, and it's just  one person, you may say "excuse me" and edge past after being acknowledged.    

      "If you have the fire, run..." -John Climacus

        To pass on single track, usually say something like "on your left" if you're going to pass on the left. Most trail runners will be respectful and get out of the way. Some may hear you coming and move whichever direction is easiest for them. If it's dangerous - like cliffs on both sides - try to time your passing so it's safe. You will find people who are better on ups than downs and vice versa. You may also need to be aware of someone trying to pass you on the down.

         

        If you're a strong climber, I'd line up closer to the front. But if you aren't a strong climber, you risk becoming one of those holding up others - or forces you to go faster than you planned. How much space is there at the start for the runners to sort themselves out. Some races I've done just have the parking lot, others have a large ski stadium then very wide ski trails before narrowing down.

         

        How long is the race - miles, vertical ft, duration, technical / groomed? IOW, is it long enough that you may be leap frogging if people that are stronger in ups vs downs and vice versa are passing each other multiple times - or is it short enough to just do clean passes?

         

        Downhills are frequently where the races are won or lost, but not everyone does downhill well. The best will try to hang with the strong climbers then pass on the downhill.

         

        FWIW, I've frequently had early starts in some of my races or doing the shorter version of a longer race (starts mid distance, common finish line), so deal with being passed by faster runners in some races. The fastest ones that are going for the win will usually give enough notice that I can pick my place to get out of the way, assuming there's that much visibility. You probably won't be dealing with paces that vary that widely.

         

        Good luck.

         

        MTA: "Single track" actually comes in varying widths - some with just enough space for a footplant and hands brushing shrubs on both sides; others where people can almost run side by side. Most skinny trails I've been on have some wider places. And the wider trails aren't that big a deal to pass on.

         

        I should also add that closer to the front, runners are better about pacing. Near the back where I am, there's some truly bizarre pacing - like structured run/walk so they end up running the uphill and walking the downs. I rarely see those folks after the first 5 miles.

         

        Steep hills near the start usually sort out the various speeds fairly quickly.

        "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

          Yeh, "On your left" if they don't get out of the way on their own, and you do the same when you hear others behind you.  In my (limited) experience with trail races, there are uphill runners, and downhill runners, and the twain don't always meet.  I pass people on the uphills, and they all pass me back on the downhills.  Leapfrog, leapfrog, leapfrog, all along the course, part of the fun.  The only real time there's a problem is the with the headphone-wearers.


          Not dead. Yet.

            Thanks for all the notes. Its 18k with 1800 to 2000 feet of elevation. The trails are groomed and nice, but there is a bit of light scrambling on the first mile. Im not a strong climber. I'll be happy if I can make the hills without having to walk, so I'll probably play it safe and line up a little farther back to start. The singletrack definitely has sections that are safer than others to pass, but the whole thing is over a pretty steep cliff on one side. So I guess the plan is to shout that im coming up behind people and hope they move. I'll be ready for it myself as well. I usually wear headphones, but i can see where they could cause trouble on a course like this. I don't think there will be too much leapfrogging. 70% of the elevation gain is in the first 3 miles. Then it flatten out for close to 5 before a few last hills and then the downhill. There isn't much downhill until the end. If there is leapfrogging, those middle miles are hopefully where it happens instead of the downhill. You've given me lots of things to think about and to look out for on race day. Thanks!

            How can we know our limits if we don't test them?

              Yea, if you're not a strong climber and the major downhill isn't until the end, then line up back a little ways.

               

              If someone is on your heels, you might ask them if they want to pass at the next opportunity. Oftentimes they don't and may be using you as a pacer, but it's good etiquette to ask - and get them off your heels if you don't want them there and can't drop them.

              "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

                I don't think you need to worry too much about letting them know you're coming.. most of the time you don't come up on people that fast and they know you're there. Finding the best time to pass may cost you a few seconds, but it's just another element of strategy.
                I have passed people pretty quickly on rocky downhills before and gone off to the side of the trail sometimes to avoid them. Totally depends upon terrain, but short steps and high knees helped keep me upright. Tons of ground can be made up in those situations, but you do need to be ready for it, and also able to put self preservation aside a little. If you have a natural talent for *that*, I'd guess you're gonna love it. Good luck!

                1/24 - Beast of Burden 50

                jmetrails


                  You must be running Xterra. I've done my best to discuss with longtime runners on this trail. I've heard just ask nicely & runners should figure it out. The advice on here is the same I've heard, "on your left, excuse me may I pass, etc..." No headphones allowed so that shouldn't be an issue. I've actually run LA Jolla/Ray Miller for years but this will be my 1st racing it. Going to be a lot of fun! Good luck & enjoy your run!!!

                   

                  I have my first trail race coming up next weekend.  The last three miles are a pretty steep downhill singletrack, and in training I've found that I make up a lot of time by picking up speed as I run down it.  In training I average about 12 min/mile on the uphills, 8:00-9:00 on the flats, and on the downhill I get down to below 7:00 min/mile.  I'm worried that during the race, when I need to be running that downhill faster than I ever have, that I'm going to get stuck behind people who don't like to run them like I do.

                   

                  There is actually single track in the very beginning as well, but I'm less worried about it, as  it's a pretty steep uphill and leads to the biggest hill on the course.

                   

                  So, a couple of questions.  What it is the etiquette for passing on singletrack  during races?  Am I going to fall on my ass if I try to pass people that aren't getting out of the way?  Or am I making a big deal out of nothing and everybody at my pace will be running it as fast as me?  Any other advice?

                   

                  Also, how should I line up to minimize the damage in the first uphill?  Should I line up nearer to the front so I don't get stuck behind too many people?  I worry that if I do that it will force me to increase my pace too much in the beginning, and I will pay for it later.  Or should I line up farther back and just do the best I can through traffic until it clears up?  This way I'll save some energy for the end, but will probably sacrifice time up front.

                   

                  Appreciate your advice!

                  jmetrails


                    You must be running Xterra. I've done my best to discuss with longtime runners on this trail. I've heard just ask nicely & runners should figure it out. The advice on here is the same I've heard, "on your left, excuse me may I pass, etc..." No headphones allowed so that shouldn't be an issue. I've actually run LA Jolla/Ray Miller for years but this will be my 1st racing it. Going to be a lot of fun! Good luck & enjoy your run!!!


                    Interval Junkie --Nobby

                      You're supposed to shout: "Woooo Woooo!" and pull your fist down in the air like a train engineer.  That's how people know you're no n00b at this sport.

                      2014 Goals:  sub-3 Marathon 

                      Current Status 11/10: Back to building up miles.  Junk feels mostly okay.  Kinda.