I ran a marathon for the first time last September. It was a great experience, but I have to say I didn’t enjoy the lead up to the race all that much. The training itself was fun – I run for a lot of reasons, but mainly because I love doing it. The part I didn’t like was just the fact that my life revolved so much around the marathon. I had to be sure I kept on the training schedule. I had to be sure not to get injured. I stressed over every detail of the upcoming race. My fueling, my footwear, the weather forecast, whether I would get sick a few days before, and so on. I didn’t think about much else. And then to make matters worse, I broke my toe two months out and had to figure out how to get that healed without taking too much time out of my training.
So after that was all over and I completed the Gap Trestles Marathon, I decided my next long run would be on my own terms. I would set the course, I would set the date, and I’d run it when I was good and ready. So I set out to design my own 50k trail run course.
Of course, a do-it-yourself 50k brings some challenges. The most glaring one is that there are no aid stations. To fix that problem, I designed the course with three unique legs, all of which return to the same starting spot. That allows your vehicle to serve as your aid station. The start/finish area also happens to be at Cowans Gap State park, right beside the concession stand. So if you run this thing in the summer, you can also get refreshments there. Speaking of refreshment, you can cool off in the water in the summer months, because the starting point is right beside the swimming area.
The course isn’t an easy one. It has over 5000 of total elevation gain, and plenty of technicial areas as well to slow you down. All three of the legs have scenic views. I call the race the Great Cove 50k Challenge, and I also created a page with information and turn-by-turn directions.
I originally planned to run the course on April 23rd, but since we had a foot of snow on the ground, I wimped out and postponed my adventure until the following week. It was a great experience. Eight hours of running, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, and just being by myself. Check out the video for more on my journey.
Some of the gear I used: