The view from Hog Rock, the highest overlook we could find on trail during a morning trail run on Catoctin Mountain in western Maryland.
A total loss. That's the way I would describe trail running on Maryland's Eastern Shore in the thick of summer. Wicked black flies, rampant poison ivy, and stealthy ticks, are just a few of the reasons you want to steer clear of some of the best fall, winter, spring running spots, including our mecca, Tuckahoe State Park.
When my feet aren't running on trails, they are waiting and plotting the next time they can shoot down single track or quick-step a downhill. That's the enthusiasm I took with me on a recent family trip to Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham Falls State Park in Thurmont, Maryland.
Trail running wasn't the reason for the trip, but Andrew Southworth and I had designs on waking up early one morning and exploring the falls, going as high up Catoctin as we could figure, and getting our bearings with a mountain scamper. I use the term mountain as a relative term--big by Eastern Shore standards, a hill by New England/western NC standards, and we won't compare west coast.
Overindulgence coupled with sleepless kids in WPA-era cabins is not the best way to get ready for an early morning run on unfamiliar terrain. But Andrew and I were determined and happy, if dazed and confused and took off from the Misty Mount Cabins, map and NUUN-infused water in hand.
We circumnavigated a ranging loop that connected the park's Falls Nature Trail to Cunningham Falls, then turned us up the mountain to Hog Rock (1610 ft), shot us around to the Blue Ridge Summit Overlook (1520ft), and then rolled us down mostly downhill single track to connect us back to the park road to the cabins.
Unlike Tuckahoe, rocks far outnumbered roots, the climbing was serious, and the downhills could have landed you stranded with a misstep. In short, our 6-ish mile loop with a good bit of climb and descent, was a blast. One that should become part of a Rise Up Runner group run this fall. A seemingly unknown trail running playground, only about a two-hour drive from Easton.
Brooks - "Inspire Daily" Program
The best partnerships, and the only kind I am looking for in my running adventures, are those that benefit both parties. In my case, I run in Brooks running shoes. I've set my personal record times for 10 miles, half-marathon, and marathon wearing Brooks Adrenaline GTS's. And my Brooks Cascadia 2's carried my fresh then weary legs over the 50 miles of Appalachian Trail, C&O Canal Towpath, then winding country roads to finish the JFK 50-miler. I run in Brooks because they fit my feet best and I dig what they are about as a company.
I was interested when I heard about the Brooks I.D. (Inspire Daily) program, where Brooks invites non-elite runners who are active in their running communities, whose running and activities inspire others (or aim to), to apply to become part of a team of Brooks ambassadors, spreading the company's mojo (or in Brooks's case, MoGo, BioMogo, to be exact), and evangelizing to the running masses. In exchange, Brooks I.D. runners get sweet discounts on shoes, apparel, etc., help test new gear, and get networked in to the other I.D. runners.
I went from interested to psyched when I applied and was accepted as a new Brooks I.D. runner. Now I get to work with a company with whom I was aligning myself already and of whose brand I am a fan. My adventures in distance and trail running, with writing, and hanging with the Rise Up Runners, connect with the shoes that are already on my feet. Pretty cool.
Next up? Looking for some new trails for fall RUR road trips. Figuring out what races I can get on the fall schedule. And enjoying early morning runs as the weather gets (a little) cooler. Stay tuned...