OK gang, the first trail event of the season is in the books. This one is a classic, been around 25 years or so, long before the recent mud runs and obstacle course craze. It has a very interesting story line based on an actual character from history. Check it out at http://www.leathermansloop.org.
Cool dampness was in store as 1200 runners stepped off at 9am this past Sunday, after hearing the traditional Leatherman’s Loop poem and being guided by a runner on a white horse. We quickly left the open fields for a single-track adventure which involves two full stream crossings and lots of rocks, roots and hills through the 4,700-acre Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.
True to form, my first face plant occurred within the first mile of the race. I hit my right hand so hard the screwed-on top of the water bottle I was holding blew off and all the liquid blasted out like a water balloon dropped from twenty stories. After getting up and realizing everything was intact, I continued running only to be tracked down 100 yards later by a fellow runner tapping me on the shoulder and saying ‘did you lose this?’ He of course handed me the top, which I thanked him for, re-attached to the water bottle and proceeded to carry an empty bottle for the next five miles. Nothing gets past me….
Surprisingly no more falls the remainder of the race, but a few signature stumbles as the technical terrain and close quarters forced a constant level of attention to the task at hand. The first stream crossing was around twelve feet from bank to bank, about waist deep, and once up the slippery slope the trail continued on into the woods and more single track.
When you put together 1,200 runners, a relatively short (10K) course and mostly single track trails, it was a trick indeed to make a pass along the way. This to me was the most difficult detail of the event, and although I’m not by any means the fastest runner out there, I do like to keep a pace going. Ducking around trees and going off trail were definitely par for this course.
The final half mile starts in a field and funnels down to the second stream crossing with loads of spectators around flashing pictures and taking videos. All I’m thinking about is ‘Please God, don’t let me land the second face plant in the middle of the stream’! Somehow I made it across without incident and without making everyone’s top YouTube moment, and cruised to the finish line. After nearly an hour in the woods it was nice to take a break.
We left before the award ceremonies, which include the tradition awarding of a freshly-baked pie to the various winners. Nice touch for a real down-to-earth event that takes place in a beautiful setting just twenty minutes from my home. May I always recognize that and be fortunate enough to share in the experience.