Many...MOST Saturdays you'll find me somewhere within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park running the trails or roads. You'll find me nearly always with friends that I've met on the trails or at local races. Thanks to support from home, Saturday mornings are a guarded time and I do my best to get home before lunch each week. Today was my 2nd edition of a run I came up with last year. My idea was to have a fun run on the last Saturday of the year to celebrate friends, the trails, and some of the most gorgeous parts of the trails that we run on each weekend. What came of that idea last year was a small group who left Lock 29 on the last Saturday in December 2007 and visited the Blue Hen, Buttermilk, and Brandywine Falls. It was a great time with temps below freezing but not too cold.In my 2nd edition, we got the word out simply through word-of-mouth and on Vertical Runner's website and wow, we had the biggest turnout ever on a Saturday morning outside of organized races. At least 50 runners showed up...but I have no idea how many in all were there. A few other groups that have their own group runs joined in as well. We started a few minutes late simply because of us filling and overflowing the Lock 29 parking lot. After a brief talk and disclaimer about how everyone should expect to get muddy and expect to get wet, we were off. With nearing-record temps around 60F and lots of rain in the hours and days preceding, the water crossings would surely be water crossings and not the typical tip-toe across the rocks we're used to. Full immersion today!
Alright, I'm going to try and not get too deep here, but today truly answered the question of "Why?" I'm sure you can relate...that question that sedentary friends/co-workers/family ask you from time to time. "Why would you run in this weather?" "You ran today? In 2 degrees with the windchill below zero?!" "You ran HOW far?" Every time we left a waterfall today, everyone applauded. Ahhh....a nice warm fuzzy among the hanging icicles. Witnessing the gorgeous waterfalls which were more like rapids today and surrounded by LONG icicles from the ledges surrounding them...all while laughing and running through ice cold water really made today's run THE best group run I've ever been on...ever. 11 years of running and this tops them all. I hear the question already: "You had FUN running through ice cold water, sloshing through mud, AND running HOW far???!!" Yea...I did...a lot of it. So much that I was a chatter box through mid-afternoon at home...my poor wife. She endures so much!
Instead of re-hashing the route, I'll let the pictures tell the story. My camera got quite the workout today and I've posted 60 photos here. You do NOT need a Facebook account to view them or save them. (By the way, the local running Facebook nation is growing! Join in!)
Here are some of my favorites out of the bunch:
Mel making mud-running look graceful
Only this picture describes just how COLD the water was
To the many of you who made this run a success...and fun, THANK YOU!
Happy Trails, everyone and have a Happy New Year!