todd is one of my oldest running friends and we've run a lot of races together over the years (wurtsboro, escarpment, boston, for instance). i wasn't going to miss his "completion" run to celebrate the finish of his quest to run all the marked trails in the harriman state park system! it was a great day and i met a bunch of his other running friends in the process. here is todd's recap of his adventure (a fuller version is in the works for his blog).
As some of you rundangerously readers may know, I have spent the majority of the 2010 running season building a relationship with the mountains of the Lower Hudson Valley. In a quest that I began unwittingly sometime in mid-May, and which took on formality in early July, I have endeavored to run all of the marked/maintained trails of Harriman State Park in one season. According to most credible sources, the current trail system - maintained so wonderfully by the NY/NJ Trail Conference - comprises approximately 240 miles of trails. These trails range in difficulty from reasonably easy woods roads to highly technical single-track trails, but leaning much more heavily toward the highly technical. And so it was with this knowledge that I undertook the project of completing all of the trails.
To make the accomplishment "official", I have kept track of my progress via a large map of the park system, which I have detailed with appropriately colored map pins to indicate trails which I've completed. In addition, I spent the latter two thirds of the project documenting each of the runs via a blog, "Into the Woods," which recaps each run, including photos from the trails. I had certainly been a trail runner prior to this season, having run the Escarpment Trail Run five times, using some of these very trails as training ground. But this year (and this project) has taken my trail running to a whole new place. Since June, I've run less than 25% of my total mileage on the roads, and I have to confess that I don't miss the pavement one bit.
A few weeks ago, I decided that in order to give myself the necessary focus, I should set a goal completion date of November 28th. Once that 'monkey' was out there, I knew that I had to live up to the commitment that I'd made to myself to get this done. And so, over the past few weeks, I have hastened my schedule, averaging about 5-6 hours a week out on the trails in an effort to knock out the last 25% of the project. My second-to-last run was last Monday, when I ran up and over Bear Mountain twice on the Appalachian and Major Welch trails. That run was the one that I essentially viewed as my "final run," knowing that yesterday's run would basically just be my "victory lap around the stadium." And so it was... :)
I had invited all of my runner friends in the area to join me on the final day. And to my delight, many did. Almost 30 of us in all ran across the meadow in the Elk Pen to begin the party that would be this run. And a party it was! We had runners from NY City, Connecticut, Sullivan County, and even five folks from Albany! As we traversed the trail, groups formed, mainly according to speed and ability. Some of the groups got lost. One group (the "A" group) even got lost somewhat permanently. ;) But in the end, everyone found their way back to the Elk Pen, where there was plenty of food and beer, and certainly lots of laughter and talk of the trails. The consensus seemed to be that you would have had to be in a coma not to have had a good time. And although that metaphor is somewhat ‘coarse,’ it pretty much sums up the spirit of the day.
The question people are asking me now is "What's next? Where do you go from here, Todd?", and I can't say that I know the answer to that at the moment. But I have great faith that the answer will manifest itself in due time. Yes, I will keep running these trails. And I will keep on sharing my enthusiasm and spirit for the trails with my running brethren. And in the end, I know the answer will come.