My first trail race in three years just confirmed what's been going on in my head for a while: I wanna
do more trails - a lot more!!
Northern Westchester County has some awesome trails. Pound Ridge is the largest park in Westchester with 4,300 acres full of short routes, medium routes, and long arduous technical tests for those wanting a bit more. Named after a mysterious vagabond who abandoned society, who wore his own self-stiched leather getup and lived in the caves of the area for 40 years, the Leatherman's loop trail race is quickly rising in popularity. If you want to run it, join the lottery. If you don't want to take your chances, run four races of the Trail Mix series. One of which is the Sarah Bishop Bushwhack.
Just a few miles away from Pound Ridge is Mountain Lakes Park with 1,000 acres - home of the legend of Sarah Bishop. Sarah lived her life in a cave and by all accounts wanted it that way. Abducted by the British during the Revolutionary War, she suffered much abuse. After her release, she fled into the hills around Mountain Lakes and made herself a home. Her friends were the creatures of the forest, and it was said, "the birds had become so familiar with her that they seemed to heed her almost as little as if she had been a stone." Her meals were not much different than Thoreau on Walden, living off roots, nuts and some vegetables she grew. She never begged and went to church religiously. After the winter of 1809 passed, she was found frozen in the marsh - standing erect, her feet glued to the Earth as if in concrete.
The annual Sarah Bishop Bushwhack 10k is named in her honor. This year it was held on September 29th, and it was a blast!!
First - it's a seven-mile 10k.
Second - no complaints.
Mountain Lakes Park is gorgeous. This time of year it shows off its colors, and the first leaves to fall carpet the ground. The start/finish area was no fuss. Food was available before and after. People were friendly, and the music was good - like old school rocking a little Floyd in the morning good. Not overly crowded, most runners looked like they knew what they were doing as they talked over the maps made available by the organizers. The whole lot seemed to have the spirit of the trails about them. Their grins shone with the early morning sun and an excitement danced around everyone there as the clock ticked down. At the last minute a figure appeared from the crowd wearing what could best be described as Native American war paint mixed with a touch of Beetlejuice. He hoisted a large orange flag and pinned it next to the maps. He turned to flash a grin at several he seemed to know and relieved himself of his shirt. The word was given and the runners took off, and this trail banshee was out of sight in a flash.
The first mile was all uphill; then it got steep. And, that went on till nearly mile three when we crested Bailey Mountain, Westchester's highest point. From there, rolling hills and technical footing made for a great experience. It was difficult enough to earn your respect but friendly enough to enjoy it!!
My strategy is always the same: I start conservative. I figure I'll catch up with all the rabbits later on. Problem is, I never do. This time, I went out the same, but somehow I made some ground on some folks in the later half. I've done just enough trails to start to feel a little more at ease with running them. The Salomon camp is in two weeks and with it my second go at the Paine to Pain half-marathon.
I found out most of the runners from the race were from the Leatherman's Harriers, and if this race is indicative of the races they run, I'm in for all I can get. This race made me not only want to do more, but to get better at it. To learn. I think these folks up there know what it's all about.