I'm making a very poor decision and running the Soaring Eagle 10k in preparation for a half-marathon I am running. It will be the second trail race I've done, every Saturday I do a 5k that's half trail, half paved. A full on trail race is a bit different of a beast, especially out here where 500-600 ft of elevation gain is a "light" trail run.
Sleeping pads I like! It's good to have a firm, even base to sleep on instead of having a sleeping bag conforming to whatever kind of ground you may be on, and it also acts as insulation between your sleeping bag and the ground, as AnSionnachRua mentioned. It's good for my mental and physical health on weekend trips.