The 2013 InStep Lapham Peak Trail Races were fantastic! The race director, Russ Delap, had the event well organized and running smoothly from start to finish. He was very present, and working hard the entire day to make sure each race started on time, the trails were well marked, runners had enough food and drinks, the award ceremonies honored the winners, and started promptly after each race.
This race has a low key, laid back, earthy feel. The start/finish area is surrounded by trees in the Lapham Peak State Park - absolutely beautiful. Music played on the loud speaker while the races were beginning. You could see runners lounging, stretching and warming up before each of the events. Each race started with runners lining up at the starting line, and Russ shouting three magic words, "Ready, set, go!"
This event drew fast trail racers, average paced runners (like myself) and walkers. All were there to spend time on the trails either running or walking. Overall, it was a very supportive environment from the other runners, volunteers, and the race director himself.
Food during and after the event was more than sufficient. Throughout the loop, which the 10k ran around once, half marathon twice, and marathon four times, there was water and hammer drink stations. One of the stations served food including peanut butter jelly sandwiches, trail mix, potatoes, potato chips, candy, and hammer gels. I'm sure there was even more than that. The volunteers were always ready with full cups of water and hammer drinks. The technical shirts this year were short sleeved, great quality, and celebrated the event.
You could not get lost in this race due to the big white spray painted arrows that you were instructed to follow, and the orange spray painted lines that you were not to cross. Along with the signs and spray paint, there were volunteers making sure each runner stayed on course.
The start and finish line area was well staffed with volunteers handing out more food and drinks, as runners passed during their laps. There was also a good crowd parked cheering for the participants!
The whole trail had rolling hills, but the beginning of the loop there were quite a few bigger hills. At the end of the loop there was a nice long downhill and a flat quarter mile to the finish line. For those who run next year, make sure you're aware of the big hills in the beginning of the race, and don't spend all your energy on those hills, because they continue to roll throughout the loop. Once you hit the large downhill closer to the end of the loop, you can stride it out to the finish line - if it's your last lap!
I think this race is truly a diamond in the rough. The race maxes out at 500 runners, but there were only 49 marathon finishers, 113 half marathon finishers, 103 10k finishers, for a total of 265 finishers. Once more people find out about this event, it will start to max out, so I would sign up early!