For anyone new to trail racing you need to understand, that under "normal" conditions trail running is about twice as hard as road running.
Not only are there the hills to consider, but the trail is narrow and there are rocks and roots to contend with.
The trail is pretty much NEVER straight, so you're always turning left or right, going up or down.
And the trails at the Ark, are pretty much just that, but on steroids!
Also, because we have 3k, 5k and 10k events all happening here at the same time, runners need to pay attention and ensure they are staying on the right track, following the correct flag colour.
All this to stay.... if you are an inexperienced trail runner, I'd recommend you cut your trail race in half of your road race distance.
So if you're happy to run a 21k, marathon or sub 1-hour 10k, then you'll love running 10k here at the Ark.
But if you struggle with 10k on the road, then you may want to start out with a 5k here.
Similarly, if you find yourself walking a portion of your 5k road runs, you should probably start with the 3k option here.
Keep in mind though, that Mad Trapper events were created for fun and camaraderie. This is not a cut-throat, testosterone-driven, win-at-all-costs atmosphere.
So if you want to walk the uphills... and the downhills... and the flats.... that's completely up to you and the only words you here out there and afterward are words of encouragement.
I have tried to make the Mica Run 3k as "Introductory to Trail Racing" as possible.
Approximately half of the loop is on wide, "double track" trail.
There are relatively few rocks or roots. It's fairly straight...
And by "Ark Standards" it's super flat! ("Flat" is an extremely relative word here at The Ark.)
The 3k event is the only event where hiking poles are permitted.
So, if you want to come out and simply hike the loop, that's 100% fine by me.
We just ask that the "pole hikers" start the race at the very back of the pack to ensure no runners get skewered!
This is the same 5k loop that I usually run when I head out my own (with the dogs of course).
This is a nicely flowing course with a fair bit of diversity to keep it interesting.
There is single track and double track.
There are some hills, but nothing too long and nothing overly steep.
There is some technical sections and some easy flowing, "turn the brain off for a couple of seconds" sections.
I'm a 50 minute road 10k runner and if I'm cruising with a decent heart rate, not working working too too hard, but not "jogging" either, I'll finish this loop between 40 and 50 minutes.
This is just a really nice course to run. Don't worry about your time.
If you're a runner and you've run trails before, and you're trying to decide between the 3k and the 5k, I'd recommend this option.
Keep in mind, any time you get too tired, you can walk and smell the flowers for a few steps!
What I love about this loop is that it's really not all that much "harder" than the 5k loop.
You see the entire 5k loop is on my property, and my property is HILLY.
It's hard to find a flat enough spot to pitch a 2 person tent!
But with the 10k loop, I take you off of my land an over to my neighbour's farm.
This means you get to run through a nice flat horse meadow, then you get to run around a hay field, then even returning through the woods you'll find only a minimal amount of elevation change.
So you get to start the race with about 2k of single track, hilly, technical terrain.
Then you have almost 5k of "relaxing" trail running before finishing strong, with my "funnest" section of "Ark-Brand" single track.
You're going to love it!