Dominion Riverrock: 10k

Pat Petschel reported from this year’s Dominion Riverrock festival, May 14 – 15 in Richmond, Va.

“Please be aware of pit bulls on the race course.” That was a final warning from the race directors before the start of the James River Scramble 10K, a footrace at this year’s Dominion Riverrock. The festival, held in downtown Richmond, Va., is a one-of-a-kind outdoors event, including kayak jumping (off a ramp into a river), live music, challenging technical terrain for trail runners and mountain bikers, as well as course bystanders offering beer and cigarettes as you go by.

I went to Richmond in mid May for a long weekend to check out the event — and participate in a few races on the banks of the James River, which flows through the city’s downtown. For the 10K event, the first half of the course took the race pack along the flood walls that line the river for a couple miles. Then it was onto steeper terrain for the “technical” part of the course.

Scenes at the James River Scramble 10K

This isn’t a race that you would want to run trying to set a personal best. There are too many choke points, most notably at the “Mayan Ruins,” an old set of stairs where you have a minute or two of standing around waiting for a logjam of people to clear. Another interesting point on the course brings runners through public areas where people where hanging out (it appeared that the public didn’t have any idea there was a race going on until runners started heading past). Offers of beer and cigarettes came as I ran by.

Near the end, the course heads onto a swaying pedestrian bridge suspended under the town’s big Robert E Lee bridge. I had to stop several times to grab the handrail as I thought I was going to lose my balance. A strange end to a strange — and exhillerating — 10K run through the outdoors terrain of downtown Richmond.

—Pat Petschel

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