Sunday, February 3, 2008

Tuckahoe 10-Mile Challenge

A washout at the bottom of the Turkey Hill trail made crossing over to Little Florida a wet affair, with three log crossings and a fast-water fording to boot.

Sometimes you get more than you reckoned out of a run. Perfect temperature, in the low 50s, sunshine, and a perfect scene for a trail run. I had determined that I was going to do our 10-mile loop, knowing that conditions at a water crossing could be tough. Tough was a washout, turning one log crossing into three, and the normal scamper into a thigh-deep river fording. It couldn't have been more fun.

And while I was running, like a breakaway touchdown in Oxford churchlot football, a challenge came to me. A gauntlet that needs to be thrown down. So here it is, with particulars.

The Gauntlet: The Tuckahoe 10-Mile Challenge

During the last couple years, I found, and a number of us have developed, a GPS-measured 10.1-mile loop, with great singletrack, views, terrain, hills, and a water crossing that can be made with or without the scamper-log. I am issuing an open challenge to run the Tuckahoe Ten, with a group, or on your own, any time during 2008. Let's laydown a course record and have a beer-beque, pint party at the end of the year, for everyone who completes the challenge, with a special award for the person(s) who own the course record at year's end. Some trail runners' honor will be involved, and I would encourage those who haven't been to do an orientation run with someone who knows the ropes.

The Course

Recommended parking is by the lake, or at the recycled-tire playground. The start is Tuckahoe Valley Trail, which encompasses the first 4.5 miles of the course. Notable here, you need to take the Creekside Walk spur, which adds some scenery and distance. And you want to take the full TVT, not the high-water pass, which takes you away from the bridge.

At the end of Tuckahoe Valley, you simply follow the trail through a field trail, along telephone poles, until you reach the Creekside Cliff Trail (one of my favorites). You take Creekside Cliff from end to end, taking a hard left onto Turkey Hill Trail, which takes you down into the bog. Most of the time, this is easily passable, with one water crossing, again generally shimmy-able along a large, downed tree, but crossable without in thigh-high water.

Turkey Hill connects to Little Florida, which winds to Griener's Fishing Road. The dirt road for about 75 yards, takes you back to the river and Pee Wee's Trail appears to the left. Take Pee Wee's, making sure to take the sections of the trail with the horse circle-slash (Stephen Bardsley takes the horse section, which cuts the course short) sign, out to the road.

Hang a right on the road and you will be completing a loop back to where you started. The finish line is the far side of a wooden bridge, next to a dam, where there is generally folks fishing.

The trails are all well-marked, with not too many places where you have to make a decision. At decision points, there is adequate signage to keep you on track. Having said that, I am going to make a run down there with some eco-friendly, sustainable means of marking the course, with paint/flags, signs, etc.

The Rules

Start your watch at the beginning, stop it at the end. NO STOPPAGES during the run, not for bathroom, not for equipment adjustment, not for going off course, not for running into someone and chatting. The conditions are the conditions, so you get what you get. A case in point, today I ran the course as quickly as I can recall. But because I spent 10-12 minutes with stream crossings, picking the trail back up where it was submerged, taking pictures, and re-tying my wet shoes, my end of the day time was 1:47:55. Not one of my faster times, despite running hard. The conditions dictate your time. It's all part of the course.

You've got to run the full course, then either post your time on the blog as a comment, or email me or one of the yahoo groups (Annapolis Trail Runners, Talbot County Tri, whatever), so I know to both include you as a Tuckahoe Ten Challenge finisher, and to keep track of whatever course record comes out of the challenge.


Versus a road run, the course is a challenge. It's got just about everything a good trail run could ask for, and it's a reasonably well-kept secret here. Today, I passed a few mountain bikers, some trail horse riders, and dog walkers. Depending on time of year, there may be hunters, and there are often folks fishing. For you roadies, it is a chance to get your shoes muddy and run like a kid. For those already running trails, it's a new trail to tackle.

Haven't decided on the swag, though we will find something cool for the course-record setter, perhaps chip in for shirts for all those who complete the challenge. And a fun, end of year party with pints of good beer and cheer. And the journey itself is the thing.

Gettin' To Steppin'

For those interested, who want to have a crack at the course with someone who has run it, you can holler at Mike Keene (Wittman), Stephen Bardsley (Stevensville), or me (Easton). I'm happy to get a few group runs going. And we could even think about a Fat Ass rules race out there, one loop, or two.

To give some reference points for course records, I have a log-book note that Keene, Bardsley, and I ran our first group run for this course in 1:36:46. Pierre Bernasse and I ran it over the summer, in really dry conditions, in 1:39. Mike Keene and Jim Crowley ran the course last weekend in 1:41 and change. I think I would have challenged the record today, with different conditions. If Bardsley drops the hammer, I believe he'll be down around 1:30, or high 1:20's. I'm not sure what's gonna stick as a record this year, but I look forward to finding out, and to the challenge.


Nancy Toby said...

Hmm, sounds interesting!! Do any of you have a Garmin map from it? Or is it on


Michael Valliant said...

Hi Nancy - I am not sure if Jim created one when he and Mike K. ran it or not. Either way, we ought to create one and post it! If I recall from the Tuckahoe website, they don't have actual maps online, but you can buy them. They do have maps at some of the trailheads, kiosks under glass. I will try to post a good map as soon as I can. Thanks! Mike V.

Bardsley said...

LETS GET IT ON! I went there this morning for a 16er. I think Wood Frog may take the title, and think he would own me over a ten miler! thanks for the vote of confidence though! Lets think about a Fat Ass day in April, after the B&A marathon and HAT50K. Lovin the Mud, Bards