Next year was going to be the "Year of the Trail" for me. I had designs on making three different Speed Record Attempts on various historic trails ranging from 140 to 370 miles. On top of that, I was going to kick off the spring by making a serious attempt at becoming the 9th person to finish Barkley. ....then the whole "World Championships in France" thing popped up in my schedule and forced me to re-think my 2010 plan. Obviously this is a good problem to have.
Since I'll need to focus lots of my training on flatter road-style terrain over the next 7 months, I'm scrapping Barkley and one of my trail attempts for the spring. The Race Director for the sold-out Umstead 100 was nice enough to let me into the race last week, so I'll have that as a suitable March warm-up for France. Running 100 miles on those park roads is just a wee bit more appropriate as training for France than the sawbriar mountains and 52,900 feet of elevation gain at Barkley.
Given that the France race also takes place on the same day as the Massanutten 100, I'll have to push my return to MMT back yet another year....which stinks, but isn't completely bad: I'll be able run on 71% of the course in February after earning my invitation to run the 71 mile "Reverse Ring" course by finishing "The Ring" last month. The extra experience and longer wait will only make my eventual return to MMT that much more successful, I'm sure.
Once I get back from France, I'll still have half the year to work in some of my trail plans, and the major focus will be on challenging the Vermont Long Trail record (271 miles in 4 days, 12 hours, 46 minutes). There are lots of reasons for me to make a serious run at this record, but I'll save those for a future post. As of right now I'm thinking I'll be ready to make the attempt in late August or early September of next year. Jonathan Basham broke the record this year w/ a September run, and I'll admit even before his record effort I also thought this was a good time to do the run for weather & bug reasons. I didn't spend the first 28 years of my life in the New England woods and not notice things like that. I'll talk more about the Long Trail as the time for that run draws closer.
As for the rest of 2009, I'm ready to focus on one more solid effort in the next couple months, but to be quite honest there isn't much to chose from on the race schedule! I would have loved to run the Pinhoti 100 in Alabama, but it happens to be one of those races that would randomly cost me about $3.2 million to get to. I think I'm better off saving my $$ for France this year. I'll save Pinhoti (which looks like a great point-to-point 100 miler) for another year when travel plans are easier to work out.
As an alternative I'll be pushing up one of my solo Trail runs from 2010 to next month. I still need to work out the logistics, but most likely I'll be heading out to run the 140 mile Horse-Shoe Trail in PA (Harrisburg to Valley Forge) in the middle of November. It'll be a little late to catch the foliage up there, but I'll still enjoy the countryside (and probably the company of a few horses too!) during my journey. Since this is a lesser known trail in the running world, I'm not sure an official "Speed Record" exists (still researching that), but for someone who is looking to take it a little easy on his run and appreciate nature a bit, I consider this is a good thing. Enjoying a little relaxing time on the trail before focusing seriously on France sounds like a perfect plan to me! Giddy-up!