"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Runner's "Happy Place"

Or maybe the post should more accurately be titled, "THIS Runner's Happy Place." Although, spend some time in Damascus, VA, a.k.a. Trail Town, USA, and I guarantee you will fall in love with my new favorite training site. Located halfway along the Virginia Creeper bike trail, Damascus is a sleepy little town, (emphasis on 'little', population 1,000), that intersects the Appalachian Trail, with hikers coming out of the Mt Rogers National Recreation Area for a stroll down main street.

For sure, biking the Creeper Trail is the highlight of any trip to Damascus.  However, with our second annual trip to the area this past Labor Day weekend, I am even more convinced that a running vacation would certainly be in order. Considering that there is a trail system (over 33 miles) that is mostly wide with smooth, soft surfaces, along with the option to climb the miles, or stay relatively flat, and you can't beat it. Even go crazy and get in some off trail, single track while you are at it. All of this plus the added bonus of running along rushing streams, beautiful falls, mountain views, historic train trestle bridges and very little traffic.

So, this past weekend I was blessed to share a solid 19 miler with my favorite Kenyan, Paul Brantley.  We started out the steps of the Happy Trails rental house and headed north on the trail.  Six miles of gradual descent towards Abingdon, turned around and headed 9.5 back up the trail with a 500 ft elevation gain.  Not enough to throw us off pace, but enough to remind us that it was uphill. Back to the house, just in time to shower, grab the bike and take off down the mountain for day one of creeping.

At some point early in our run, we passed several rental houses that were now for sale. It dawned on me that we should both move the families to Damascus and train full time. Sort of the Mammoth Lakes of the East Coast.  Of course a few minutes later it dawned on me that the prospect of my family questioning my sanity coupled with the reality that bills still had to be paid, would surely prohibit execution of such a great plan. Oh well, at least I'm fairly certain that more mini-vacations to Happy Trails lie ahead.

One last note; when we arrived on Saturday, there was a large gathering in the main park area of Damascus.  We discovered that it was the annual Iron Mountain Trail Run.  The link below has all the details, including a video overview of the event. In short it is an ultra-marathon event with three distances; 16, 30 and 50 miles.  All day, these finishers came running out of Iron Mountain and into the park.  Unbelievable respect for these runners.  Not sure if I'm ready for this sort of challenge, but if I ever decide to run an ultra, Damascus would seem to be the place to do it.  Iron Mountain Trail Run

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great place! I've heard really positive things about the Virginia Creeper Marathon, which I have to assume is the same trail system.