Today I went to Letchworth State Park to help clear trails in preparation for the Many on the Genny, and I had the opportunity to meet some really great people. There weren’t many of us – the two race directors and five adults. Two of those adults were married and had brought their four kids (I had the impression that these kind of outings were pretty normal for them, and they did great!). We worked on two sections of the course, and it was very helpful getting a preview, as one section in particular was fully under water when I last tried to inspect it. It was tough work – cutting and moving downed trees, hacking and trimming overgrown areas, sneezing our heads off as the pollen flew everywhere. Even so, we all, I believe, had a really good time.
In particular, I walked and worked with two people who had many great stories tell. Jim told me stories of bears and hail and late spring snows during events, all of which seem par for the course when running in western New York and northern Pennsylvania. He knows how to tell some good ones. Sarah is two years younger than I and talks like my sister. I felt totally at ease with her as we talked trail running, triathlons (that’s her thing), kids, and snot rockets…it was great conversation as we sawed and chopped and lifted. The banter kept us going while we, if I do say so myself, did a pretty good job getting those trails ready for race day.
After everyone left, I traded my work pants for shorts and pulled on my sneakers, then went and ran the section we had worked on, plus a couple of others. I am so glad I did. Those trails are not all nice and easy, and certainly not groomed or marked. The RDs said the event would be “old school” – participants would have to have a good set of basic trail reading skills to find their way, and they are right. Despite our work, a lot of the “single track” becomes “barely track,” and large chunks have no markings at all. I have been studying the map and instructions, and I am so glad I’ve also taken the time to preview sections at different times. It will be a difficult run, but after today, I am feeling more confident about what to expect. Moreover, I am hoping that trail karma puts me in a slightly more favorable position on race day. At the very least, I’ll have Sarah to look for at the starting line, and Jim has promised to keep his aid station stocked until I get there. : )
If you can, I highly suggest you sign up to help clear the trails before your next race. You might learn a few things and make some new friends as well!
Don’t let that picture fool you, that water goes up to my hip, and the only good way to cross is straight through!