HOLLISTER — The 14th annual Medoc Trail Race was held at Medoc Mountain State Park with a large turnout of participants.

The event, presented by Bull City Running Co., began early in the morning, with more than 200 people participating in the event that took them onto the trails of the park and finishing at the picnic area.

One of those runners to finish was 73-year-old William Hodge of Roanoke Rapids, who finished at 2:15:41.3 in the 10-mile run. Being the oldest participant, Hodge said he has run in nearly half of the Medoc Mountain races, which last year was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Trail runs are all different depending on the conditions of the trail,” he said. “Medoc Mountain trails are not pristine — with small, medium and large roots on more than three-quarters of the 10-mile running trails.”

Hodge explained the race director reminded runners the trails had more growth this year and exposed more roots than participants were used to in previous events.

“This will result in jumping over roots of all sizes on areas of the trail where roots have not been in past races,” he said. “Saturday’s 10-miler was much more challenging to us old folks than running the almost pristine RR Canal Trail recent races. Caution was the word of the day — lots of falls but no serious injuries.”

Hodge said he began focusing on running after he was rushed to Raleigh’s Wake Hospital to receive a heart stint in 2002. Using running as a way to stay healthy, he said he wanted his six children, who are in their 30s, to understand the importance of physical activity to maintain their health. Hodge said now he and his wife, Susan, run three to four times a week and enter about four races a year to stay focused on health.

As for Saturday’s race, William said he did not heed the director’s caution about the trail as he was tripping over roots.

“[It] became more difficult, and in the last two-mile section, I tripped numerous times resulting in scrapped and bruised legs,” he said. “My wife said, ‘Not a pretty sight.’ It is no fun getting old, but I did enjoy beating younger folks, although the running experts’ finishing times were twice as fast as my run through the Medoc Mountain Trails.”

William said the fall races serve as a birthday tradition for him as the race allows him to test himself to see if he has beaten Father Time’s aging process for the past year.

“Yes, there is really a Medoc Mountain, which is very difficult to run up without walking just a little bit to catch your breath,” he said. “The Medoc course is not like running on paved roads or golf course type of cross-country events. It is a ‘Pay attention to the trail in front of you and slow down when the going gets tough.’ Experience helps, age doesn’t.”