On any trail run there are lots of sights, sounds, and sensations. During a trail race, these get heightened and added to. Solitude and serenity get replaced by a different kind of energy and enthusiasm. You have validation from comrades that the scenery is as stunning as you think it is, as well as the fact that the sand is soft and the rocks are hard.
Another feature of a race that you don’t get during any other outing is the aid station. These offer bananas and water, sometimes bandaids, always encouragement. But to date, one volunteer at one particular station has been my favorite. I’ve gotten to see this guy and his carb injected elixir two years in a row, now:
Those last few miles felt especially tiring, I thought. It could have been the streams and the slogging through mud. Whatever it was, it was all worth the trip.