A group of 40 strong gathered at the Manorville Hills County Park off Route 111 in Manorville to run the hilly trails the morning of Sunday, December 29, 2013. At 7:30AM runners gathered at various carpooling locations on the north and south shores to head over to the 8AM start.
As I pulled up with Nancy I was amazed at the amount of cars parked at all angles along the access road to the trailhead! My vision of having us “road warriors” take on some off road terrain was becoming a reality!! Many who showed up had never run a wooded trail before. Even some veteran runners had never ventured off the concrete and onto the soft earthen paths. So while I was excited to see the large turnout I was also anxious that everyone have a safe run and come out unscathed.
With some preliminary instructions to the group to keep a close eye on the ground in front of you for obstacles and exposed roots that may trip you up and to try and stay together, we set off. The trail begins innocently enough…flat leaf strewn ground around some wooden horse and bicycle barriers to prevent anyone but hikers and runners on our white blazed route. Through a quiet and peaceful stand of pines that enveloped us as we passed through…the path eventually started to ascend. Through twists and turns and narrow traverses we went. I was one of the first to go down! Tripped up by a leaf covered root,I allowed my body to relax and I rolled as I hit the ground to help absorb the shock. It’s something you learn by running trails and inevitably falling here and there. Hopefully you don’t turn an ankle or roll into a tree. I popped right up and kept going after some concerned shouts from my group.
As we neared the 2.25 mile turnaround point …..I had told the group we would do an out and back of approximately 4.5 miles…we approached a large boulder. That’s where we regrouped for our return trip after assessing everyone’s condition. Several others had taken a fall but none too serious. We took a group picture at our newly christened “Hillbilly Rock” and prepared to finish our run. Several of our more adventurous bunch wanted to continue on the trail to put in some extra miles. So off they went into the woods as we backtracked to the trailhead from which we started. Several others took a spill…or two!…on the return but we all arrived back safely and waited for the several warriors who ventured out for a “few more miles”. Minutes turned to an hour and no one knew where our splinter group were. Search parties were sent out and cell phone calls were made to no avail. A heavy rainstorm was predicted any time now and we were all getting concerned. Some were experienced trail runners who had yet to return so we hoped they stuck together as a group. Eventually Rick Secor returned and said although he was lost the others chose not follow him but find their own way back onto the white trail that got them in. About 90 minutes after the main group was done, having taken more pictures of our finish group, the others emerged from the woods. They had been under the impression that the white trail was a loop and would return them to the trailhead. In fact it was not and just took them further and further from the start. They should be the ones to tell you how they found their way back to civilization. We were all just glad to be leaving as it was starting to rain and we were all chilled by now waiting for them to return.
We lived up to our motto big time by “leaving no one behind”!!! The first Selden Hills trail run was a success! Everyone came out in one piece and there will be many stories… fact and fiction!!…as time goes by about what went on in Manorville the morning of 12/29/13!!!!