Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Getting Epicly Lost on the West Penn Trail

On April 8th I helped escort the relay baton as a part of One Run For Boston which was an epic non-stop running relay from LA to Boston in aid of the One Fund Boston.  I rode my bike on Stage 273 to provide light and water to Dave Deming on the 12.5 mile run starting at 9:30pm between Saltsburg and Blairsville, PA.

I decided to get some extra miles in I would park at the finish then ride my bike to the start to meet up with the runners (Dave, Jeff, Dave, Andy and Dave "The Kenyon") and other bike rider (Erin).  Since it was a marked trail I assumed it would be easy to follow even at night.  However, I was mistaken the trail had a lot of forks and crosses a lot more roads than the map shows.  It may have been easy to navigate during the day when I could see all of the signs or see when the trail veered off the road but at night it was easy miss the signs, miss a turn, and get turned around.  Within the first 2 miles of my ride I made my first wrong turn when the map had the trail going to the right but when I went to the right I ended up riding into the river.  There were about 3 times that I had to guess which way was correct and luckily I made all the right turns.  Until mile 9 when I was on a road to get between trail heads.  The trail veered off the road but the sign was missing and I didn't see the trail because it was dark.  So I continued straight down the road and got to a gate that didn't have an opening for pedestrians to go around.  At this point I knew I missed something but didn't know where to go so I called Dave and started back tracking.  It was hard to describe where I was and while I was back tracking I got to an intersection that I did not know which way I came from.  I've never had that problem before because I typically have a good sense of direction.  I continued to try to describe where I was then my phone died, so at this point I was very worried that I would be out there all night. After a few guesses I found a house, so I was less worried because I could go there and ask for directions but I kept trying to find my way before I went there.  Finally, I recognized where I came from and found the trail again.  When I was coming from this direction on the road there were 3 signs pointing me to the trail, why couldn't one of those have been facing the other way on the road.

Then after another mile I had to make one final guess about which direction to turn (I guessed right).  I was riding down the trail looking around to make sure I didn't miss anymore signs, but I hit a rut and fell (which was the cause of my leg wound that many people have asked me about).  Then after a couple of more miles of riding I found the group of runners and the other bike rider coming down the trail!! I was very excited and then followed them back the way I came until we got to the other side of the dam, where the trail split in 3 directions with no signs I told everyone that I came from the direction with the black gate, but Dave was sure that it was a different way.  As we continued on the trail and started bushwhacking, I commented "No one trusts the person who already got lost today."  We bushwhacked our way back onto the real trail then finished up the journey a few miles later.

All in all it was a stressful journey to meet up with everyone but over all it was fun and I was happy I did it.

From Dave Deming the day after the run:
"It was truly an EPIC run for me last night. I want to thank you all for sharing the experience and, more importantly, pulling me through to the finish.  I definitely hit my limit (well before the finish!).  I don't think I could have done this alone and having your support all the way (and especially that last mile!) was wonderful.  I was able to disperse the deep chill with a hot shower, and several long walks today have worked my twisted ankle from hobbling pain down to just a bit of a nag - my theory of running through a sprain still holds (may even run tomorrow).  

Thanks Jeff and Dave for the fruit and libation at the end (bananas and beer is definitely a race-end staple in my future!).  Thanks to Stephanie for "finding us" and lighting my way.  You gave blood for the cause - hope your brush wound heals quickly.  PS - watch out for those that enjoy bushwacking!Thanks to Andy for helping me hold it together.Thanks to "The Kenyon" for setting the pace.Thanks to Erin, always finding the positive in those dark moments (dark 12.5 miles of moments).
And thanks for your generous donations to the Boston Marathon victim's funds."