Dr.J. on Running


Highland Forest

Treasure Hunt

Published February 25, 2002 in The Syracuse Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

For the past week, thousands of newspaper readers have scoured public places looking for the infamous Treasure Medallion. The first clues sent people outdoors. With schools closed for winter break, families took advantage of the challenge, and followed the clues outside.

My family remained blissfully oblivious to the whole thing, until a curious colleague asked my wife to speculate on one of the clues. It was bait enough for the mystery devotee, who in turn challenged the children with clues. The kids called the hotline for all the clues, and within minutes, they knew where to seek the treasure.

Just for the record, as a mere contributing writer, I am not privy to the secrets of the annual hunt. I knew nothing about the frenzy until I arrived home that night. At dinner, my family announced they were going running early the next morning. As they shared with me the various clues, I understood their reasoning.

I have written about my favorite running playground many times in the past. I have encouraged and invited others to meet us Wednesday mornings from Memorial Day to Labor Day to run the trails. We ate pancakes there the last Saturday in December at the Last Chance Trail Run. We served soup and fresh bread the third Sunday in May to die-hard trail runners. We even bought a season pass to save time and money.

However, I will not take responsibility for the chaos of last Saturday, when hundreds of people abandoned their remote controls, dragged their kids out of bed, packed dry cereal in plastic containers and hot coffee in thermos jugs, and drove to Highland Forest with great determination and speed. They were not there to run.

My family arrived at 7:30am to find the parking lot full of vehicles, and the woods full of people anxiously stalking the trails, maps in hand. My family had gone there to run. If they happened to run across the medallion, it would have been an added treat.

It did not take long for them to realize that their chances of "running across the prize" would not happen. After Brittney slipped on an ice patch, Paula twisted an ankle, and Marc chased his new hairdo on a long isolated path, they rediscovered the real treasure of Highland Forest. In any season, it is still the best place on earth to hit the trails, and enjoy a brisk run and a good sweat.

They returned home sore, sweaty, muddy and happy. As for the rest of the treasure-seekers, I can only hope that they paid the dollar parking fee, kept the trails clean, enjoyed time away from the television with their families, and returned home safely. May be we will see many of them back on our summer Wednesday runs.

© 2002 The Post-Standard.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Syracuse Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at jabbour@i2sports.com.