On Sunday, my friend Julie & I knocked Ohio off our list of states with the Bobcat Trail Marathon!
As usual, we picked a weekend we were free & signed up for a race that was within driving distance. We didn’t know much about it other it being a trail marathon. I think we both figured it couldn’t be any worse (harder) than the Dances with Dirt Marathon at Devil’s Lake WI but we were about to find out. Our one and only unspoken rule about our marathon running adventures is that we don’t obsess about the course. We don’t spend
any much time looking at the website and thinking about race day. It’s an adventure and with adventure comes surprise and well, it’s always a surprise. We pick races based on timing and our availability, nothing more. The rest of what’s to come is a mystery.
The Bobcat Trail Marathon is in Glouster, OH at Burr Oak State Park. It features 26.2 miles of running around a 660+ acre lake, thru the woods, mostly on single track, up and down leaf covered trails in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Yes, the Appalachian Mountains. SURPISE! In case you don’t know, Julie & I are Midwesteners. You might even call us flatlanders. We run and train in and around Chicago and we consider the Roosevelt Bridge a mountain. Let it suffice to say that we only see mountains on TV and we don’t even really have “hills” on which to train. So this was a difficult run for us to say the least. But the lake was beautiful!
Packet pick-up and the start/finish were at the Burr Oak Lodge. Great location. Great price on rooms. Great food in the restaurant. Lots of activities for the family! Plus it was super nice to be able to stay inside and use real bathrooms until just moments before the race began.
If you’ve been to packet pick-up at a trail race, it’s normally a non-event. They almost always offer packet pick-up on race day. You stand in a short line, tell them your name, they hand you a shirt and a bib. You leave and get ready to run. So easy! Bobcat was no different.
The race started on time. The only distance offered was the marathon and we soon found out why. We basically ran into the woods and short of a few road crossings, we never came out until we were back at the lodge/finish line. It was a full day of single track trails around a huge lake. No cell service. Race officials were in constant contact with one another via radios and they kept very close track of the runners and made sure we all went thru each of the check points. We were told to “not worry” and that if something happened, they WOULD come get us. Comforting. I think.
The entire race looked like this.
We ran single file 99% of the time. Following the path of partially crushed/disturbed leaves. I’m pretty sure the local wildlife “cut” this trail. It was very technical with an endless amount of exposed roots & rocks buried beneath several inches of fallen leaves. Super cool. Fun. Adventurous. Yet totally exhausting.
on my face one time but didn’t get hurt. Stubbed my toe & went “flying” countless times. Slid both up and down hills on the fallen leaves. Crossed numerous bridges & ravines. We had one full on water crossing that was impossible to navigate without submerging ourselves ankle deep in a cold creek. I climbed. I descended. I wondered how bad this would hurt “tomorrow”. I wondered if I would lose any toenails from the nasty downhill’s. Three days after the fact, my quads still feel like they went thru a meat grinder. I’m definitely sore this time. Like really sore but I still have all my toenails so far.
We carried our own water and were thankful to have it. There were aid stations every 4-5 miles, some manned, some with just water jugs dropped along the trail. Aid stations offered coke, ginger ale, heed, water, cookies, Halloween chocolate candies, chips, pretzels, chex mix, Hammer Gels & other goodies I can’t recall. The only thing missing was the salted/boiled potatoes that most trail races offer! Multiple places with park potties. Multiple check points with volunteers keeping track of our progress and encouraging us to continue at whatever pace was manageable.
We were at the end. Like almost last. Everyone we met seemed local and trained on the trail which we were running. They seemed light on their feet. Running was effortless for them. It took slightly more of an effort for us. But we still got the same medal that they did when we crossed that finish line!! And something cool, when we finished, we were offered a choice between a medal or a finisher’s plaque with a picture of the lake. It was a tough choice but we both picked a medal.
Best part of the race? Locals decorated part of the trail with Halloween decorations! But beware, if you spend too much time looking at the decorations and taking photos, you may miss a flag or two, get lost and run off course.
Worst part of the race? The endless roots/rocks that necessitated spending the entirety of the race looking at the ground. It was tiresome and very rough on the feet.
Absolute must if you run this race? Trail shoes! You need those babies to protect your precious feet!
All in all, it was a good event. It certainly wasn’t my favorite of the year but a nice solid race that was well supported. Very peaceful. All the runners and volunteers were super encouraging and very nice. Yet, we may have decided that we make better road than trail runners! Our lack of hills for training, our injured feet and the occasional need for a potty or two, may keep our feet planted on the road for the next few races! But only time will tell. We are taking a short break to recoup, then we’ll see where our adventures lead us next!
** Adventures in Marathoning ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **
WOW!! Great report!! I love trail marathons, they are more technical but I just love the scenery., as long as I am not running for a good time.
Great job and congrats to you and Julie!!!!
Nice job Amanda and awesome scenery!!! I see you have Florida colored off … when and where did you race here??? 🙂
I did the Dopey Challenge last year at Disney. That’s took FL off my list! I’d like bonus points for 4 days of running in Disney too. Maybe I’ll add a couple of my son’s gold stars to the state of FL. :o)
Hahaha you should! 🙂
Great report TTF…and what you are describing is another Tecumseh Trail Marathon! But I recall Tecumseh had pretty great aid stations with lots of stuff to choose from. But leaves, roots, rocks and gullies below leaves all characters of Tecumseh….not to mention that quads that feel like ground hamburger for 3-4 days post race because of all the braking on descents. And some of the scenery you post in pics…sorta reminds me of Tecumseh! Didn’t you run Tecumseh Trail Marathon before? Has to be a lot of similarities between these two races. See any or signs of Bobcats?
I registered for Tecumsah back in 2008 but ended up not running. Hubby got laid off his job and I got preggo with Michael. Neither of which are conducive to traveling to and running a tough trail marathon! LOL!
wow great job!! I cant imagine trying to dodge roots/rocks/etc under all the leaves!! You girls are awesome!!
I’ve never run a trail race. I’m sure I’d end up with more than one band aid!!! Great recap and run! Gorgeous too!
Sounds like a wonderful trail race – no more, no less. Trails aren’t my favorite, as I have a natural tendency to want to run fast, but every now and then, I like to pepper my road racing with a wild excursion to keep my legs guessing. Nowhere on here did I read about foot pain (and I’m assuming “injured feet” is in reference to the regular pain of running a tough marathon), so I’m guessing your PF is receding or, dare I say it, cured? Hope that’s the case.
And ha, the picture you currently have of the Lakefront path just after Shedd Aquarium – I took almost that exact same picture and sent it to my grandmother. She used to live in Minnesota and loved the changing of the leaves. Those fiery red trees were the perfect representation of autumn’s explosive shift.
The PF isn’t gone. It’s a constant battle! But I’m doing a lot of exercises & using PT and massage therapy to get rid of some of the issues. I have an issue with my poster tibialis if you really want to know. It’s possibly a bigger issue than the PF. Working on it! And I got a cortisone shot, so not sure if the cortisone is working its magic or the other things but I’ll be running until I can’t run anymore. That’s just what I do and it keeps me centered.
I know you aren’t feeling great yourself but one year try Huff. There is a 50K, a 10 mile and a relay. It’s about 3 hours from you and in Indiana but a nice trail run which isn’t too technial. Plus most trails are wide enough to run side by side with other runners if you aren’t running for time. Might change you mind a bit about trails. :o)
Great recap! I think after reading this one and your Devil’s Head recap, that trail races are not in the picture for me. Heck, I trip over smooth pavement! I can’t imagine all those hidden roots and stuff under the leaves. Too risky for me! But sounds like you had fun!
~Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home
It is scary for us too. That’s why we go so slow. No need for us to risk injury with a pace with which we are not comfortable!
Beautiful race report… That sounds like a pretty fun run. I honestly didn’t know there were mountains in ohio though. I live in Pennsylvania and we just assume Ohisians are flat landers. Goes to show what I know. If you want to come check off a trail race here in PA, let me know! We have lots of good ones!
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