Happy Trails Again at Salt Fork

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Today was Day One of my four day running block. I decided to go to Salt Fork State Park and just run 2 loops of the 10.4 mile pink blazed “Bigfoot” course loop. That way, I didn’t have to think, just run.

I was irritated to see the trail trash left over from the May 9 Salt Fork Spring Challenge Race, put on by Ohio Outside, still on the trails. I took another picture and posted it to Facebook.

I was running CCW, which was the direction that the May 9 race took. (Last time I was there, I was not on this section.)

I was getting more and more pissed as I counted off white flags left on trail, and FB’d about that too. There were flags now trodden into the mud by horses, since they had left there for over two weeks.

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Despite being irritated, I was having a really good trail run. Good energy. I tried a new food about mile ten.

Commercial MRE

This is a civilian MRE-meal ready to eat-that I found at Walmart.  It’s shelf stable food, ready to eat. Eating at high altitudes is a problem, and this time at Hardrock, I want to have food available in my drop bag that I just might want to eat. But it has to be stable and survive for two days or so in my drop bag.

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This sandwich was not bad at all. Like a sloppy joe in a poptart. The dough portion was a bit dry, but there was enough BBQ sauce to eat this quite easily.  I burped a few times after eating this, but it tasted pretty good, stayed down, so I think it has earned an entry for my drop bag food stuffs.

Meanwhile, back at Salt Fork..

I get to the intersection of the red/pink trails and notice QUITE HAPPILY the arrow markers, wrong way sign, and stray water bottle are gone!

I start out on my second loop. Other than one white flag just past the intersection, the 83 flags (yes I counted) are gone! Including the ones stomped into the mud!

I am having a good time on loop two. It’s getting a bit warm, but I feel I have about the same energy as I did on Loop one.

There’s about a mile of road section in the middle of this loop, and two cars pass me here. Then I hear someone yell from a car, “Hey are you Kim?”

I say, yes I am, and the driver introduces himself as Mark. This is Mark Gorman, the Race Director of the Salt Fork Spring Challenge, and asks if he can talk to me.

He thanks me for bringing the situation to his attention, and apologizes for the stuff left on trail. He was pretty appalled about what he saw on trail too, and said a huge communication error happened with sweeping the course. I told him good, the reason I was so irritated was he told me the course had been swept, so either he was bald face lying to me, or did not realize what had happened.

He thanked me again, offered me a free race entry to his fall race, which I kind of shrugged of. Then he asked if maybe I would want to sweep his race in the fall, and I might do that, if the time of the race works with my schedule. And if his race is a non-profit. (I won’t volunteer for a for-profit race.)

Ohio Outside also wrote a post apology for this mishap, and apologized to the community about it.  I give props to Mark Gorman for 1) owning up to it, as race director 2) fixing the problem and 3) apology.  I consider it case closed, this was all unintentional, and the wrongs were fixed finally.

The reasons I was so irritated:

1) he told me the course was swept. So either I was lied to my face, or he didn’t know any better.

2) he didn’t give me a date when the trash would be removed. If Mark had said the trash would be removed May 28, I would not have posted on FB about the trash still out on trail.

Educational opportunities: Much discussion on FB about this. Obviously, the race director is overall responsible-which Mark clearly owned up to.

But some race volunteers are not runners, as another Race Director pointed out. Then, job descriptions and duties need to be spelled out. “Trail Sweep” has two different connotations. Sometimes “trail sweep” means to follow the last runners on the course, to make sure of their safety AND that there is nobody left on the course. Usually the ‘trail sweep’ job description also includes pulling course markers and trash.

The other definition would be simply to “trail sweep” the course, meaning after the race, the sweep pulls all the trail markings and any trash, of any kind, on the course.  A possible conversation with a non-runner, on just sweeping the course for markers: “we mark the trail with white flags. Pull all the white flags. We used about 80 on this trail. Pull any arrow direction signs. There should be four of these. Please pick any trash you see on the trail.”  That way, if a non-runner volunteer wanders onto the wrong trail, they should wonder why there were no trail markers, or direction arrows to pull, and to contact the race director about this.

So, happy trails again at Salt Fork. I had a good solid run in today also, a good training effort.

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