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At the Races

Leatherman’s Loop 10K Trail Race

Tracy Keller, Elsa Slater, and Justine Krell after running their first Leatherman’s Loop!

Recaps of Leatherman’s Loop 10K Trail Race, Cross River, NY, April 22, 2012

Elsa Slater. On Sunday, April 22, a group of ERCers headed up to Cross River for the Leatherman’s Loop. The weather was a little chilly as we waited for the race to start, but once we took off it was probably close to perfect conditions – around 50 or slightly higher with cloud cover. Because of the recent drought, water crossings were fairly low and there was plenty of mud, but apparently nowhere near the epic conditions that have graced the course in the past. Fellow Loop newbies Tracy, Justine and I got some great tips from Rich Unis on the car ride up, and from Chris, Sharon and Randy as we waited for the race to begin, which really helped us to navigate some of the trickier aspects of the course.

Once we got through the meadow and into the woods the course narrows considerably. It can be hard trying to stay together if you are running with someone else, and it took almost running into a small tree right smack in the middle of the trail to remember to keep my eyes front! While I thought this course was challenging enough as it was, I can see how some extra moisture, which thankfully came later in the day, could turn it into a completely different animal! Speaking of animals, there were dogs galore, and we were able to say hi to Desmond as he ran by with one of his dogs! After some ups and downs in the woods, we got to the first water crossing: about knee deep so not too bad. I quickly learned newbie lesson number 2: to keep my hands to myself in the water crossings (sorry, Tracy!) so I wouldn’t take anyone with me if I fell! Afterwards, things flattened out a bit and we ran through some campgrounds where spectators had gathered to take pictures and cheer the runners on. Afterwards we came to water crossing #2, where after seeing a couple of people stumble and almost submerge to the right, I remembered that Rich recommended we stay to the left, which ended up just being about hip deep. Somewhere in there was the water stop, which marked the halfway point. After running through the mud flats we hit “The Wall” which is described by race organizers as a 45 degree quarry hill that keeps going up and up. Kudos to the bagpiper — the music definitely helps to get you up that hill!

Some more ups and downs in a particularly beautiful section of this scenic course – tons of really tall pines – to me seemed almost like being in California among the giant trees. And – a sighting of the Leatherman himself – a life size picture of him right on the edge of the trail. Shortly after this section I ran into Sharon, and then saw Randy who had already finished the race and had come back to cheer us on, and then Rich who took some great shots of us at the last knee deep water crossing towards the end of the course.

I can see why this race has such a devoted following. The course is beautiful and a warm relaxed vibe permeated the opening remarks and blessing before the race began. I will definitely be putting my name in again for next year’s lottery. Special thanks to Rich for all the great advice and the great pictures, and especially his help in getting me to the race(“Happy Birthday!”,) and thanks to fellow runners Tracy, Justine, Chris, Sharon, Randy and Desmond for their camaraderie and support that day!

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Tracy Keller. Elsa, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Great recap! It’s amazing how much tougher I feel now than I did on Sunday morning. –I’m hoping for more mud and higher water next year, even though I *may have been* secretly praying for the heavy rains to start earlier on Sunday, so I could have used that as an excuse to get out of this crazy race that is rather intimidating on the front end.

Best advice I got from Rich: Don’t run too close to the person in front of you.–The first few miles we were deep in a solid, single track stream of runners, and when your pushing the person in front of you there isn’t much time to react once you see them hurdle a log or dash over a pile of rocks. Stay on your toes, folks!

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Justine Krell. I can’t really improve on this recap ! The weather ended up being perfect for it – a little chilly in the beginning, but once moving, I warmed up. Running in the woods was a lot of fun – especially since I enjoy the challenge of dodging the rocks and menacing tree roots, twisting through narrow paths, vying for room amongst runners and dogs. Much of the time, the path was only wide enough for two or three runners wide, so unless you were one of the fastest runners, your speed was held in check by the single-file bottlenecks. The up hills were challenging, but not as difficult as I had expected from the tales told by previous Loop runners. I think the dry weather was a double-edged sword – the water crossings were not as challenging as hyped to be, but yet, a lot of the challenge potential (mud and high waters) was missing. Nonetheless, I kept a decent pace (not my best, my hamstring is still tight) and I look forward to running this again ! the advice to look in front of you, not at your feet was definitely the best advice, as well as WALK up the hills ! I saved my energy and made up time on the downhills!

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Randy Miller … 50:16
Chris Jaworski … 1:01:49
Desmond Duncker … 1:11:19
Sharon Morrissey … 1:14:18
Elsa Slater … 1:14:19
Tracy Keller … 1:14:25
Justine Krell … 1:17:08
Rich Unis’s photos on ERC’s Flickr photostream:
Extensive coverage of the event, including recap, results, photos, and videos, at the Loop Web site:

Photo Highlights

Photos on flickr

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