The scene of the crime - most of us have a run-in-semi-dry-shoes ethic, and scamper over a downed tree to cross the creek at the bottom of the Turkey Hill trail. Landy Cook has a different approach.
After Sunday's run of the Tuckahoe 10-mile loop, two awards need to be given out. The first is the "downed-trees are for wusses" award, which goes to Landy Cook. As we reached the bottom of the Turkey Hill trail, I pointed out the "Bikers Dismount" sign and the crossing point for the creek, meanwhile pointing to the fallen tree that can keep your shoes dry.
"I don't need a way to cross, I came to get wet!" Landy yelled as he forded the creek, thigh-deep, and went charging out the other side. An inspiring sight.
Now, I don't mind getting my shoes wet or dirty--I actually dig it--but most of us who run back there, especially over the winter, opt out of the submerged trail shoe scenario. Landy correctly pointed out though, that there are some big water crossings in the Delaware Trail Marathon, and that he wanted to see how his shoes behaved when wet. In any event, it was like watching a young child with a new pair of rain boots jumping in puddles. And that feeling is one of the reasons I enjoy trail running so much.
The second award is the ironman award, which goes to Joel Shilliday. When Joel, Landy, and I started running together, Joel mentioned that he liked to run 10Ks. He preferred trails over roads, and for Sunday, he was looking to push himself and run about 7 miles. Joel strapped on a Camelbak, bore down, and ran the whole 10.1-mile loop, finishing in somewhere around 1:45, for just over 10-minute miles. I will go out on a limb (or a downed-tree) and say that the 10 miles at Tuckahoe is as challenging a 10 as you will find on the Eastern Shore, in terms of climbs, switchback, downhills, etc.
But by "challenging," I also mean fun. Out at Tuckahoe, and on trails in general, you can run like a kid. You can see blue herons flying, the occasional turkey, deer, and you'd have to ask a birder how many kinds of birds. You cross streams, run hills, and watch the green of spring recapture the landscape.
Conditions were perfect, with the trails mostly dry, and all parts accessible. To catch the sun coming through the trees through the latter stretches of the Tuckahoe Valley trail is a sublime experience for me. To enjoy the morning and the trails among friends, makes it all the more so.
For the record books, our list of runners who have completed the Tuckahoe 10-Mile Challenge during 2008 now looks like: Stephen Bardsley, Mike Keene, Jim Crowley, Landy Cook, Joel Shilliday, and Michael Valliant. With some of the e-mails and interest we've been seeing, it looks like that list will continue to grow, and that will have a fun party at the end of the year. With some of the speedy legs mentioned above, I think we are also going to see the current "record" time disintegrate into the mid to low 1:20s, easy.
My advice to those looking to take the challenge, or simply to enjoy the trails at Tuckahoe: spring is a stellar time of year to do it. Sure beats the black flies and poison ivy of summer ;) And congratulations to Joel and Landy on their prestigious awards, and their continued inspiration to me, to romp through the woods or around town in the dark.