Admittedly, I'm a few days behind in my blogging, but it's not for lack of running and adventuring. D and I just returned from three days in Baxter State Park, and it was nice to not open a computer or even turn on my cell phone during that time. More on that trip in a later post. Before that trip, however, along with a few brave souls, I tackled the first annual Bitch to Bacon Trail Scramble.
Jeff put this race together, and it was designed to be everything the Beach to Beacon isn't. In short, he did a great job, and it was way more fun than it should have been. The rules were simple: Find three checkpoints throughout the course, pick up a number at each, and return to the start. The catch: The course wasn't marked. On top of that, recent logging had obliterated some of the trails.
Seven brave souls started shortly after 9:00am, and the race was on. There was one arrow that sent us left a quarter mile into the run, but that was the last of the markings. After running together for a few minutes, I stuck out on my own. After a few minutes, the trail dead-ended. I did see two deer, though. OK, back to the main trail, and try another side trail: another dead end. Back on the main trail, I saw Jeff bounding through a puddle/pond off to my right. Jeff was not only race director, but he was also a roving aid station of sorts. Each time you met Jeff, you could get a map or a clue. Of course, you had to down a shot of Allen's Coffee Brandy to claim your prize. As I saw Jeff sloshing along, my first thought was to catch up to get a map. But, my devious side kicked in, and I quietly followed him for a while. Unfortunately, he stopped and saw me hiding behind a tree, so no more free ride. I took a shot and got a map. Um...hmmm...not much help. However, he did asked me if I found the first flag. Hmmm...no, but I now had a good idea where it was. Guess, I should have looked right as he came through that puddle. I continued deeper into the woods with Jeff until I decided to explore another side trail: another dead end. When I reached the main trail again, I saw Jeff just ahead, and Ian coming back towards him. I quickly caught up to Jeff for another map...and another shot. OK, two maps, now I should be in good shape. Um...still not much help.
For the next 20 minutes, I wandered aimlessly through a heavily logged section. Everything started looking the same, and I seriously considered heading back to the start and eating the bacon stuffed donuts I'd brought. I came upon Jeff once again, and I think he could sense my growing despondence. I did tell him I was going to check one more trail that I thought just dead ended at a puddle. He suggested that I was on to something, and after a third shot, he told me to head down the trail and turn back once I found the flag. So, three shots and 40 minutes in, I finally found me first checkpoint. Just as I was leaving the checkpoint, Four came running up from the other side. We ran together briefly until, I headed back the way I came, and he headed off down another trail to the right.
One flag in hand, I was back on the main trail and ready to explore another section. I met up with Ian, Emma, Mindy and Valerie who all ended up together, and we headed off onto a trail I hadn't tried yet. Jeff was right behind us, and once we reached the cleared gas line, he offered a clue. The group took a shot—the fourth for me—and we were on the right track to find the next checkpoint. This would be the second number for all of us, but I was the only one who had found the furthest checkpoint. On the way to the checkpoint, we saw Carter and Four running together in the opposite direction. I was pretty certain that both guys had all the numbers, and I figured I was in third place—knowing that I needed to only run back to the start to grab the final flag. After what seemed like a month, we reached the checkpoint. At this point, we started discussing who had what flags. My suspicions were confirmed, as I was essentially ahead of this entire group. Ian tried the "I'll tell you where mine is, if you tell me where yours is," but I crushed his spirits when I informed him that I already knew where the last flag I needed was. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to get back. We "found" Jeff again, and again, we traded a shot for a clue. With my fifth shot rumbling in my belly, I was now armed with the quickest route back to the start.
Have I mentioned the trail conditions? Well, they were ridiculous. Numerous mud puddles. Most ankle deep, but more than one was knee deep. Plus, the logged areas were a mess. On top of that, the deer flies were menacing. I killed a full dozen throughout the run. With that many kills, there's no telling how many were actually around me.
As I parted ways with the group, I knew that I had third place wrapped up, but I didn't want to slack. I ran slightly harder than easily as I headed back down the main trail. It was during this stretch that I figured that the arrow at the start was actually in place to keep us from running straight to the first checkpoint. So, I figured that after I ran through the puddle to the checkpoint, I could just keep going straight and save myself a lot of running. I was 99% sure it was the right call. As I reached the checkpoint, I was stunned to see Carter there as well. "Are we going to have to sprint it out for second?" Apparently, he had also missed the first flag. And, apparently, he hadn't figured out the short cut, as he was wading through the puddle towards me so he could backtrack to the start. Again, my devious side arose, and I told him he was making the safe choice. I was going to go straight, in hopes of running a little less. He kept wading, and I took off. Jeff was right there, and I was laughing as I told him what I'd just done to Carter. It was mean, but this was the Bitch to Bacon! Four was waiting at the finish, and I high-fived him as I came through in second place in 1:24:47. Jeff had called Carter in, and he came in a minute or so later. The rest of the crew arrived a few minutes after that.
Post-race, we headed to Jeff's house for bacon, bacon and more bacon. Tales of the trail were relived, and a good time was had by all. Apparently, the shortest route was 4.2 miles. Ian and Mindy, both had over 7 miles on there GPS units, and I assume I ran at least that much. For my efforts, I won 2 cans of Porkslap Pale Ale. Carter brought the prizes, so it was good to see that he had forgiven me. It was a lot of fun, and I'm already looking forward to next year's anti-Beach to Beacon. We need t-shirts.