This is an old revision of the document!
(Course Description, history, points of interest, and fun stories)
So we had to revamp the course two main times. One was my own making, and the second was an almost disaster where there were certain restrictions that the park needed on the trails and they wanted to completely change it. We did change much of the South section, but I kept my ground on the awesome rugged North section. It will whoop yer a$$!
You start out at Shelter 105 and head around another shelter and playground in order give us a ¼ mile loop in order to sparse people out before heading into small fisherman trails. There may be fisherman there early and mid day. Please look out for these people and also for families in this section. You will hit the same section at the end.
Next is the wall, and then the river crossing. The wall is 12 ft tall and crossable. The river is not very deep, less than 1 ft. You can cross it with no shoes on if you wish - it is sandy. After the river you go up the Vineyard Spring Trail, the first hill. Next is the dreaded (to race directors) 4-way crossing. Two separate parts of the course intersect here and go through the same 4-way. Take a right this first time. Continue on down hill for a mile, making a number of sharp turns. This is the most confusing part of the course. Watch our signs and flags.
Hit the bottom of the hill at a paved street, cross it and go over a stream. Back up hill. First HARD climb up into Bull Run Trail. Do part of the Bull Run Loop and then head off marked trails to what I call the “Bike Jumper” trail. Watch out for flying bikers here. At the top of Bike Jumper you hit the 4-way for the second time. Again, take a right (you go a different direction).
Follow Santee Branch trail for a few miles and hit Aid Station 1. Say hi to Tom and gang. Ask them for beer and bagels - in that order. This aid station by the way is a bit off the trail. You pass over a baseball field, and then after the station, get onto a road that takes you back to the same Santee Branch trail.
Now its time for Pigs Run, Rockiest section in the park, straight downhill. Lace up those shoes and pay some attention to your ankles. I always twist one here. Now that you have gone straight down the hardest hill, we will send you straight up the hardest uphill. There is rock climbing involved here. Have fun. I have trained on it and did it running up and down 3 times. Yeah - give that a try. You will probly die after this one go BUT its well worth it. The best view in the park. Dont miss it on your left and down about 20 yards.
Continue uphill and hit a gravel road, then take a left to go towards Illchester Viewpoint. Make sure to check out this view too. Rockclimbers go here and it overlooks the former “HellHouse”, an old school that was said to be haunted. In fact, a guard there shot a kid back a few years and nearly killed him. Ive seen the newspaper clipping. Continue on down the hill and hit pavement. Ew.
Take a right onto the large paved bike path called Grist Mill Trail. You are right in front of Bloedes Dam. We used to go swimming there in College - you can swim behind the ‘waterfall’. You hit a sweet hanging bridge and get a majestic aerial view of the Patapsco river here. Enjoy it, as you now get onto a major road…. heh, for 100 feet. Back to trail! Well, you get off of Illchester Rd and back onto an old half-paved, half-dirt Road. It is no longer used and is off limits to cars, but acts as a neat river-side section.
Check out Bloedes Dam on your left, dare to venture out next to the raging water. Bloedes was the first underwater hydroelectric plant back in 1906. Now its a shell of its former glory. Down stream from Bloedes you will see a fish ladder - I call it the Salmon Ladder, but I dont think there are Salmon in the Patapsco. Interesting fact: The patapsco river used to be deep and bring ships up to pick up rolls of wheat or crops. Now it is silted up from human development and barely deep enough to float a raft on.
Hit Aid Station 2 and say hi to the Gab, Gulp, Go crew at the swinging bridge and head straight up the hill to your right (not across the swinging bridge). There are some turns here at the start so watch them. If you hit waterfalls, you went the wrong way. You want “Root Hill” instead. Lots of roots.
Do a loop in the Cascade Falls area, and then head over to the Ridge Trail, which follows the Patapsco river, but way up on a ridge looking down. Careful again not to take the wrong trail in the following section. After a mile and a half, you take the “Connector Trail” to your right. Don't go past it, or you will hit mile 15 of the course!
You will pass some farm ruins of old delapidated houses, then head to some large open fields which you skirt. Now onto the Morning Choice trail sections and approaching to Aid Station 3.
Say hi to Shura and her two boy scouts! Shura coincidentally is related to the owner of the beer keg that we have awaiting you in 4 miles This section of the course (the Southern Section) is much more gentle and kind compared to the Northern. Enjoy the nature.
Now you get onto some private land, which took some mighty good convincing and contract writing. Phew. Its a nice section that they let people use the trails to cross their land. Please keep it trash free and quite. The owner of the Rockburn land gave me a 2 page sheet on its history. Thomas Jefferson and Francis Scott Key may have been to this area, along with other high falluters. Take this private section on over to Rockburn. Cross some streams and your back in the park.
Loop around rockburn trail, turn right at the 4 way stop, and get back onto the other end of the Ridge trail. Since you did not take the short cut before, you are now on the other side of where you came before (near the connector trail). If you hit the connector trail, youve gone too far and have gone backwards on the course. Make sure to make a hard right onto the first white trail (there are 3). We will sign it well, but just make sure. Now you are on a hiking only trail that is very windy and gets rocky at points. Curve down this and you are 1 mile from the finish line!
Cross the road and then you are back on familiar territory. You hit the wall again - both literally and figuratively. Get over this sucker, and your in like flinn. Use help from other runners!
Cross that finish line and relish the personal acheivement!! Well done. Now go enjoy that food and beer you worked hard for - give me a big HELLO if you see me.
911 and 301-219-6149 (Nick) if anything is serious
There is a single large river crossing. The course will go straight across the Patapsco River after mile 1 (sorry, I couldn't figure out how to put it later in the course). The water depth is around 1 foot deep, no higher than your knee. Let me tell you, it will feel very nice on a hot July day! If you can help it, wear shoes that drain well.
Tips for this crossing: If you do not like wet shoes, take them off before crossing, as the river is walkable barefoot. Whenever I have crossed with shoes, sand gets in my shoes and I have found myself emptying them. A good place to empty them is after you come up from the river 100 ft to the concrete path and stream that goes through the tunnel.
Be warned that the aid stations will be manned by volunteers and could become vacated before you arrive at the final ones. Water will continue to be stocked as best as we can, for as long as we can. Hikers expecting to take more than 6 hours, should bring water bottles big enough to supply themselves after Aid Station 2 (mile 8).There is a water fountain and bathroom at Aid Station 2.
Each persons effort will be timed and placed. Tom Green will be timing and recording and officiating and posting throughout the race. The goal of this challenge is to FINISH. Timing is secondary. Despite this, we want to encourage vigorous activity - but no prizes for top race finishers.
You will receive a bib which has a number and a bottom strip with multiple tearable sections. Tom and team will remove this bottom strip. Part of the bottom strip will go up on a leader board, part is a coupon for YOU, and part is entry into a raffle. Give us the portions we ask for, or the whole thing. Finishers can use the raffle part to enter for free goodies. Prizes will be given to those in attendance - so stick around and party