The History of Slim Pickins
Once upon a time, not so long ago, there were not that many ultra running events.
One of the oldest running events is the JFK 50 Mile Race.
The JFK 50 Mile was first held in the spring of 1963. It was one of numerous such 50 mile events held around the country as part of President John F. Kennedy’s push to bring the country back to physical fitness.
When Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963, most of these events were never held again. The JFK 50 Mile in Washington County, MD is the only original JFK 50 Mile Challenge event. The race is always held the weekend before Thanksgiving.
While many, many, many runners have run the JFK for years and years, others were not that enthralled at the course/race. But, for years and years, if you didn’t run the JFK, there was no other choices.
Hence, “Slim Pickins” for the weekend before Thanksgiving.
But that was before NEO TC. This weekend became Slim Pickins, where runners assembled over a loosely orgainized plan to run miles somewhere on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.
The first year was 2006.
First year of SP was a target of a FA 100.
Following were present.
Mike Dobies (did not run as he was sick)
Brad Compton from Indiana (who hit a deer on his way home and caused considerable damage to his vehicle)
We started at Seven Springs and went to mile marker 1, and then turned around to head back to Seven Springs for the first 50.
We all quit at that point except for John Dewalt, who was pissed that we all quit.
(Johnnie D quit too.)
Target was was a backwards run on the Laurel Highlands Trail, starting at mile 71 and running to Ohiopyle.
It was one of the good “snow years” on the LH:
Four completed the entire LHHT: Roy Heger, Tanya Cady, Jim Harris, and Brian Musick.
2008 was another snow year:
2008 was the double marathon from Ohiopyle to Seven Springs and back, which no one completed.
Global warming occurred in the late 00’s, leaving us with much less epic weather for the 2009 Slim Pickings.
2009 was the 100K from Route 31 down to Ohiopyle and back. Several made the round trip: Jim Harris, Bob Combs, Cam Baker, Mike Dobies, and Brian Musick. Cam, Mike, and Brian also added some extra miles, proving you can get lost on the LHHT.
The LHHT bridge was removed in 2009, prompting a change in our Slim Pickings plan for 2010. We elected to run on the north side of the LHHT for 2010.
We had the best staging area for the 2010 Slim Pickins. This year, cabins were rented in Linn Run State Park, just a few miles from Donegal, PA. This is on the north side of the PA Turnpike.
The Pennyslvania Game Commission neglected to consult with NEO TC before they changed their hunting dates for 2010. We found ourselves in the woods on opening day of Bear Season in Pennyslvania in 2010:
All turned out well, no casualties were noted.
This year’s Slim Pickings was staged out of Ohiopyle. This is the epic Ohiopyle 50K.
The double out and back. 7400 feet of elevation gain. Sounds easy on paper, less so on those hills at mile 5 and 3.
This was the least epic weather ever for SP and also the most attendees at the starting line.
18 runners lined up at the Brown Gate in around 30 degree weather, with no snow and temperatures promised to be in the 50’s.
The mile marker three ended up being some of the runner’s turning point, since once you passed MM# 3, and went downhill, you were more of less committed. In other words, once you go down Mile 3 Hill, you might as well trudge on out to MM8 and make the turn.
We had 8 finishers of the OP50K, now known as the “Gate 2-8-X2” Challenge. This challenge is open to anyone, we are working on a website for this. All you have to do is follow the pretty simple rules: Start at the Brown Gate at the LH sign, go to mile 8, come back, and repeat. Do this in one 24 hour period. Time spent refueling in Ohiopyle counts, you can’t subtract that. Report results of time and date achieved.
As always, it is sad to see SP2012 come to an end.
The NEOTC Fat Ass Rules Committee is already working on the details for SP2013.
As this was my four day weekend, I headed over to Ohiopyle early on Friday, to get most of my mileage in.
My plan was a straight out and back on the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail, just to mile marker 10 and back, no epic “Gate to 8 x 2” Challenge.
Weather was looking good, there was still plenty of snow in the Laurel Highlands from a late fall dusting.
Allison, Bob, Paul, and Jeff showed up in the early evening, as Slim was going to join us in the morning. Surprisingly, it was an early to bed for us.
My plan for Saturday was to drop the 50K runners-Allison, Gombu, and Paul at mile marker 31, and then go back to OP and do another out and back. But I decided to join the trio through Seven Springs Ski Resort, and double back-that would give me ten miles.
After I left the 3 amigos, I headed back north on the LH Trail. As I crossed the road, I noticed a wide trail intersecting the path. I looked to my right, and saw a building. A shelter? I did not recollect any shelter just one mile south of Seven Springs, so I walked over to it.
It was an old spring house. Still producing, quite well!
I got back to OP about 11 am and wandered into the General Store, where the chili caught my eye. As I wolfed it down, I thought perhaps chili wasn’t the best food as a refuel for an afternoon run, but it sure tasted good going down!
I went back to the suite and took some Ultragen and again iced my knee. I figured both could not hurt and needed to let my stomach settle. Jeff returned from his morning run, and we chatted a bit. Then I decided I was getting real comfortable on the couch, and if I was going to run, I needed to leave sooner than later!
The training schedule was supposed to be longer on Friday, and then “ten” miles on Saturday, but I figured some extra mileage-especially at a hiking pace, with a full stomach-would be okay.
I took a leisurely walk up to the mile 2 overlook. I sat on the rock overlook there, just basked in the sun. I stretched.
After about a half hour, I could tell my legs were tightening up, so I resolved to go north on the trail until I ran into one of my NEO TC runners. At this point, there was no way I was going up the Mile Six hill again! I figured I could camp out at the Shelter Sign until someone came along.
And happily, Gombu came along as I was climbing up the mile 5 hill. Oh yeah! Now I can turn around! Gombu and I ran back to OP. So I got eight miles in for the afternoon run/hike, so I got 38 miles in on the LH Trail for the weekend.
After showering, we headed over to the Falls City Pub. It is the best pleasure in the world, to have a pub at the trail head!
Allison had texted me when she got to the mile 8 marker, so we were guestimating when she would finish. I gave her a 630 pm appearance at the pub, and she arrived at 6.27!!
Allison was the only one who went out of her comfort zone for Slim Pickins. This was an unsupported effort, with one water/food cache at Slim’s vehicle at mile 11. She was also running in the dark in the last hour or so of her 50K-on a very technical trail. She was alone for almost all of her run, and had a very successful time! Very proud of her effort on going it alone out there.
|I think she looks pretty good after finishing a 50K