Trail Running! And Sharpies!

As always - thanks to Gregg Gelmis for taking this photo on a recent trail run.
As always – thanks to Gregg Gelmis for taking this photo on a recent trail run.

Tomorrow is my third go at the McKay Hollow Madness 25K. I’ve been helping with Sunday trail runs doing most of the course so – FINALLY – I know the course pretty much by heart. Which – you know – guaranteed they’d be making a course change.

We had been hearing rumors about a change for a few weeks. There’s a portion of the course that is called A) The Washout or B) Son of a Bitch Ditch depending on who you ask. Basically? Part of the mountains is – well – falling off the mountain. There are two ways to cross this portion, the way that USED to be the trail and the way that people started creating to make a NEW trail. And they both kinda suck. And from a race director’s perspective? It’s probably terrifying. At any point the trees or vines races are climbing over could just, well, wash down the hill.

So! New course! And y’all? The email they sent this week telling us about it was HYSTERICAL. Basically, there are three changes on the back half of the course that, in some ways, go OFF the natural trail. (I think, maybe, in MOST ways they go OFF the trail.)

My first thought was: Well, let’s make sure I have all of Saturday blocked off for getting lost in the woods! Make no plans, friends, you will all have to help with my search party!

But then…THEN…they got to the part with the Sharpies.

Notice the sign and hanging Sharpies. They are there for a reason! MARK YOUR BIB WITH ONE OF THE SHARPIES! This is to verify you followed the course up to Panorama Bluff and didn’t shortcut. YOU MUST MARK YOUR BIB TO COUNT AS AN OFFICIAL FINISHER!


Basically – Sharpies left in the woods for doodling on race bibs! I will NOT get lost if that’s what’s waiting for me!

This course is tough anyway, to give you perspective, my best half-marathon time is 2:07, I did a 2:10 in November. My best McKay 25K which is only 2+ miles more? Is 4:18. Basically it takes me TWICE as long to go TWO extra miles. That’s how tough the course is. There’s a portion called DEATH TRAIL for crissakes. There’s also a portion called “Slush Mile” because – no matter how dry the weather has been – it’s always ankle deep mud. ALWAYS. You can not end this race clean no matter what the weather.

And now? Not only are they adding Sharpies but they’re making it harder. Check out this part:

You’re now standing on Panorama Bluff. Look out and admire the view, probably the best view on the entire course. ***BE CAREFUL! EXPOSURE, AGORAPHOBIA!!! *** You’re on an overhanging bluff with a cliff so don’t stray too close to the edge!

Really? REALLY? I DID NOT ADD THE EXCLAMATION POINTS! THEY DID THAT! I’m torn, am I more excited about the Sharpies or more terrified about the overhanging bluff? It’s such a tough call.

Either way…I AM SO EXCITED. This is already an insane race and now…it’s even MORE INSANE.


I’m so glad this race is local, I would be terrified of it otherwise. But I know the course (at least most of it) and I know the trails. They are my friends. And even though this race has now become even more insane and I barely made the cut-off time before, I’m still pumped. It was my first ever trail race and it will probably always be my favorite.

Here’s to Mud, Markers, and MADNESS!

2 thoughts on “Trail Running! And Sharpies!”

  1. Just like so many folks will run from the Blergh in order to get cake, I would TOTALLY start running again if it involved office supplies. Maybe this is the crux as to why I stopped running a few years ago, no office supply races…hmmm 🙂

  2. ultrachelsea – Hi, my name is Chelsea! I'm a 20 something runner girl from Alabama that loves getting lost in the woods, cooking and eating good food, and seeing just how far I can go. This is my blog about fitness, health, and life in general. If you'd like to read more about my adventures, stick around!
    Chelsea Schiavone says:

    You described my reaction to this so perfectly. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so much conflicting EXCITEMENT and TERROR at the same time. WHOOO!! Doing hard things is FUN!

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