2009-02-28 - Hashawha Hills Trail 25k

15+ miles @ ~15 min/mi (including long breaks)

Deja vu! Caren Jew is driving us to a free fun trail run in northern Maryland, and as the sun rises and we pass the town of Westminster I suddenly realize that Christina Caravoulias and I ran the Bachman Valley Half Marathon here many months ago. We arrive an hour early at Bear Branch Nature Center parking lot and listen to music on the car radio, chat, and wonder why nobody else is here. Caren spots two bushy-tailed foxes cavorting far across the field of corn stubble in front of us. Distant hikers trek along a ridgeline—a trail that we will be on, it turns out, many hours in the future.

Eventually we decide that maybe we're waiting in the wrong place. Driving back to a parking lot that was empty at 0630 when we went by, we find it now full of cars. Caren parks on the shoulder of the road in perfect time for a chilly pre-race brief by Alan Gowen, race director. We exchange greetings with Gary Knipling, Michele Harmon, James Moore, et al., then set off. During the first part of the race Tom Green runs near us. He and I continue the conversation that we had during the final miles of Bull Run Run 2008. Tom is still recovering from recent Achilles tendon surgery, and his previous long run was only 6 miles. He tells Caren and me that he lives in Columbia MD and saw us go by his home last Sunday during the RRCA Ten Miler. Small world!

Loopbacks on the trail let us meet other folks far ahead of us. The terrain is lovely, and at mile 10.5 there's an unexpected aid station that provides boiled potatoes and salt, M&Ms, pretzels, etc. We enjoy an exciting wade-across stream crossing about mile 11 that gets our feet and ankles thoroughly wet. As the RD warned, nobody ever died walking through the water but "several have died trying to cross on the fallen log!" Near mile 14 Caren spots some raptor cages and we stop to marvel at hawks, falcons, owls. and a bald eagle. They're injured/rescued birds, unable to survive in the wild. My cap gets caught and yanked off my head as we run under a thorny tree near the end of the loop.

^z - 2009-03-12