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Keelven Trail; her first trail race

We’ve run just over 2 kilometers as we start to doubt. We have been here before, haven’t we? I remember this tree and this corner. “And that’s the golf course again”, Sara adds. She’s running her first Trail Run Race, the Keelven Trail in Someren, the Netherlands, and we’re lost. What a start of her running career.

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“Are you sure we’re on the right track”, Erwin Sem asks, behind us. “I’ve done this one before.” Reinhoud and his son Ebbe join our little group as well. They were running in front of us, when we took a right turn. Now, they are behind us. Lost as well.

 

Joking

Last night I joked about it to Sara. “I’ve never been lost so far. I bet tomorrow I will”. It turns out to be prophetic on this Keelven Trail. And it’s only a 5 kilometers trail run.

Normally I run with the trail downloaded on my watch. Every turn I have to take, my Garmin Fenix will beep. One, before the turn comes up, ones when I’m there. In the forest, my Garmin might be off by 5 meters, but at least I don’t run more than 5 meters the wrong way. Today I decided not to. The trail is only 5 kilometers. Who gets lost withing 5 kilometers?

We do. We are running the same loop as we just did. Somewhere after the pond, we went wrong. I already had a strange feeling when we were running over a long cycling path. I’ve done trail runs, organised by Trail Running, before and they never have long stretches on tarmac.

 

Second chance

When we’re back at the pond, we study the road in front of us. No markers. We have to go right. Again we’re on the tarmac. No ribbons to be seen. No markers. Two more runners join our little group. It’s seven of us now. All lost.

Left in front of us, another runner turns onto the tarmac. Looking at his bib number it has to be somebody running another distance. He runs a lot faster than we do, but Sara follows him closely with her eyes. After a couple of hundred meters he takes a left into the forest and is gone.

When we come closer, we see the marker. It’s maybe 300 meters before the path we took to the right, when we saw Reinhoud and Ebbe going that way. This one points left. Although it’s hard to see. Not only is it half hidden, it’s also on the left side of the path, where all markers should be on the right. At least, that was the instruction at the start. Plus there are no ribbons to be seen. They always hang a couple of meters behind the markers as a confirmation you took the right turn.

 

Run – walk – run

When we’re on the right track again, we decide to take a walking break. It’s not only Sara’s first trail run, it was also supposed to be her longest run with 5 kilometers. Now we’ve taken a wrong turn, the question will be how long we will run for.

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Reinhoud and Ebbe pass us. We guess Ebbe is only 6 years old, but he’s already a strong runner. Before the start his mother confessed: “Today he wants to run with his father. Last week I ran with him, but he says I’m too slow.”

Erwin Sem decides to stay with us. By the looks of it, he likes the rhythm of running, walking, running. Plus, as he admits, he was already lost before, and has done even 2 kilometers more than we have done so far.

 

Walking break

After this little longer walking break, Sara wants to go again. She’s a diesel just like me, and now she’s warm, she wants to run. Even the little sandy hill at the next pond can’t break her rhythm.

It’s this pond where we get more company. Another lost soul, that’s hoping our group will help him find the finish line. But if we find it, is something we start to doubt the moment we should be close to the end.

 

Only ribbons

I see a ribbon on the right and nothing in front of me anymore, so I decide to take a right, even when there is no arrow. The group follows, but halfway the path Erwin Sem starts to doubt. “I think we should have gone straight. I think I saw the cafe already.”

Reinhoud and Ebbe, who are just in front of us, stop. Sara and I stop. Ebbe and the other guy stop. Two more ladies stop. For a couple of minutes we discuss our options. I have a feeling we’re going in the right direction. Reinhoud agrees. The two ladies agree. So, we decide to start running again and follow the ribbons. Arrows or no arrows.

A couple of minutes later I look at the map on my watch. For the first time I can see the starting line. By the looks of it, the point we’re now, is not far from where we began this trail. We go a little bit more to the left than I hope for, but soon turn right, straight back to the finish line.

When we see the flags, little Ebbe, as a real pro, starts to sprint. I speed up a little as well and take out my camera to take a shot of Sara. With her hands in the air, she finishes her first Trail Run race ever. A big smile graces her face. 5 kilometers of running done, and 2 more.

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