|Dr.J. on Running||
Trail Season OpensPublished May 20, 2002 in The Syracuse Post-Standard.
By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer
The Highland Forest 1-2-3 trail run on the third weekend in May serves as the official opening of the trail running season in Central New York. Warm temperatures and budding trees usually welcome harriers from all over the Northeast.
This year proved different. A steady snowfall welcomed the sleepy runners, who hurried out of their shorts into pants and tights. Hats and gloves made their reappearance after a deceitful winter. The coffee maker brewed frantically to keep up with the runners. The flurries grew bigger and heavier as the starting time approached.
At 8:30 a.m., 55 hardy stoneheads, as trail runners fondly call themselves, took off into the woods. Most planned to run one 10-mile loop through the forest. Some would run a second loop, and a few came to run three 10-mile loops, hence the name of the race.
Several days of rainfall had returned water levels to normal, and turned the trails of Highland Forest into streams. The runners slid their way down the slippery slopes, splashed through freezing calf-deep mud puddles, and climbed on all fours up the steepest inclines.
A pair of cones around a water puddle marked the finish line. A couple of inches of snow had accumulated on the ground when Alan Lockett returned in first place in 1 hour 24 minutes 25 seconds. Audrey Balander led the women in 1 hour 36 minutes 20 seconds. The finishers quickly sought warmth in the community house, where a tub of fresh stew and bread awaited them.
A couple of runners erred off the trail, and reported back without running the full course. Rather than classifying them as DNF (did not finish), the officials bestowed on them the more appropriate title RAC (ran alternate course). Through chilled bones they too earned the privilege to partake in bread and stew.
A dozen runners refueled and returned to the trail for a second loop. The winds pushed away the clouds, and a thick fog set in. The two-loopers faced the added challenge of poor visibility. Despite an unplanned detour, Adrian Trotman finished first in 3:48:09. Kimberly Snover led the women in 4:21:28.
A handful of men, led by Andy Peebles' 5:06:16, ran a third loop in preparation for an even longer challenge.
Snow or shine, the 2002 trail running season is officially open. All summer long, a group of runners will return to Highland Forest Wednesday mornings at 8:30 to celebrate the best that nature has to offer.
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 email@example.com.