Today was chilly, 21 degrees. some snow on the ground and ice, sun in the sky, no wind (random breeze perhaps)
1/4 inch of snow/ice on 93% of all trail surfaces
All creek crossings were frozen, but not solidly, you had to watch where you stepped, there was some evidence of where people went through
Down hills were mostly walked due to the snow/ice - hindsight, poles and spikes would have made a faster job of this trail under these icy conditions.
Knowing the trails (checking them out, in-person beforehand) would have also helped a runner get a faster time, but still not impossible, with the help of my phone.
There are a LOT of fast and flat sections esp between miles 3-4, along the top of a ridge - if you are a fast sprinter, this is where you would make up a lot of time.
Heading up furnace run you have steps because it is such a steep grade, i wasn't a fan, but i have had worse steps, they seemed pretty new and the spacing wasn't too bad for going up, perhaps going down may be a different story. On the backend of the furnace run trail, before you start heading back south (?) toward the parking area, there are some baby switch backs as you descend the backend of the 'hill' (the first part of furnace run is ascending up the stairs). The other flat and fast section is the middle area of furnace run, its double track and gravel, you can make up some time here as well.
Initially heading up the first climb on the Perkins trail route, it was nice, all dirt/mud/roots/some gravel, a true trail feel. Finding the correct trail was a little confusing right after the bridge, but eventually i got onto the right path. There are some nice views from the tops of ridges. There is also a section in the 3mile range that is running thru a pine forest, a nice change of trees/scenery.
Between the random ice patches and solidified muddy foot prints (from trail-goers who HAVE to use the trails when they are wet), mis-stepping was a very large concern, perhaps doing this trail once the footprints get thawed/ironed out and the snow is gone, a better time could be gained, for sure.
Over all, this trail was nice/ok. you never get far from traces of civilization and just when the 'wilderness' of being on a trail starts getting good, there's a road. There were SO many people out today, i passed 6 dogs (2 not on leash), and about 10-15 humans. Too many for my liking, for such a short run, but this is a pretty popular area, the parking area is pretty large and was about 85% full. For a cold winter day.. that is very impressive. It would be a great trail for kids or families. Some of the ascents and descents are a tad aggressive, but nothing an average human couldn't handle on a hike. I could see this trail combo being a bear in the heat of the summer. My asthma was kicking me as is. Side note - One restroom available by the parking area, no others (besides trees) on the trail (that i noticed).
Gear - pink brooks cascadia 10s, injinji purple/orange toe socks, unicorn gaiters (didn't need), Run the Land trucker hat, rainbow head/ear warmer, neck gaiter, camelbak vest with one 500ml water (only took 2 sips), 2 Cliff gels (did not use), light cat-eating-pizza gloves, heavy giant black puffy winter gloves (good for the start, but ending up carrying them most of the way), purple tie-dye leggings, black/pink cotton biker shorts, black/pink heart calf warmers, gold septum, white/rainbow stripe arm warmers, contacts, no sunglasses (would have brought), white long sleeve tech shirt, zoot IM 70.3 CdA sports bra
Technology - Garmin chest strap HR monitor, Garmin 920