Our course is mostly a woodland course that meanders through the wooded areas and across the streams surrounding Dinwiddie High School. Runners usually either hate this course or they love this course. Few embrace the middle ground. The 5,000 meter trail that we call home goes up and down 27 inclines that we consider vertical enough to count as hills. There are seven stream crossings, two which are bridged. The recent drought has allowed dry crossings of the remaining streams the past two seasons.
The course begins at the breakline on perhaps the fastest track in Virginia, runs down the backstretch, through the gates of the football stadium then immediately turns left. Very soon after exiting the stadium runners climb a short, steep hill, turn left around the discus cage, and head toward the far end of the parking lot, following the perimeter of the football stadium.
Just over 900 meters into the run the adventure begins. A sharp right near the storage containers brings runners over a steep drop as they enter the woods. The trail then winds around and up and down until the amphitheater where runners are faced with a 70 meter hill on an approximately 70% grade. At the top of the hill they turn left then loop back down the hill towards the creek where they negotiate a rather challenging downhill sharp right then sharper left turn down and across a narrow bridge then back up another hill. A scenic trail borders the creek until the "Elephant Rock".
A Sharp right at the rock as big as a house and up the hill brings runners into the back loop. Runners are greeted by a very twisty stretch of trail that crosses a creek before bending sharply to the left then on to the mile mark. The back loop is mostly narrow, very curvy (read, sharp, unpredictable, sometimes off camber curves) with few places to pass. At the farthest reach of the course runners can fly down an exciting hill that begins the section of trail that most love to hate. Each downhill is usually followed by a hairpin turn back up another hill, negating the advantage of momentum gained on the downhill. The longest upgrade is over 400 meters. Finally, a long, winding, downhill stretch brings runners back across the creek at the far end of the nature trail.
A rather nasty, long, steep hill on the other side of the creek brings runners to the two-mile mark. A right turn at the top takes runners around the perimeter of the old sewage lagoons. We call this section the reservoir. This trail is wide open and provides many opportunities to pass. At the end of the reservoir trail, runners pass an old pump house then reenter the woods into the powerline loop.
The first 1000+ meter section of the powerline loop can be brutal to those who have poor pacing skills. Coach Weaver, a great fan of vertical running went out of his way to include every hill between the pumphouse and Courthouse Road in this section of trail. Several sharp turns, quick descents, thigh burning ascents and two creek crossings bring runners out onto the powerline. The powerline is an open, straight trail featuring several rolling hills. One of the most exciting is near the substation where runners fly down a long, steep hill, cross a railroad timber bridge, then pop up over another almost vertical hill. This trail then heads back toward the reservoir before turning right and hooking around back toward the track and the finish line.
The last 400 meters are mostly uphill. The finish is at the end of the discus throwing area. Approximately 120 meters from the finish runners get to renegotiate the first hill on the course before trying to sprint to the finish.