Last year I decided that my 2015 would have a new approach to ultra running. The past few years were spent running organized ultra events and this year I'd enter none, but find other ways to spend long hours navigating cool trails. I'm happy to say I've been true to my plan of no racing and my first personal adventure is on the horizon.
After I ran the Laurel Highlands Ultra a couple years ago I realized it was only the second trail I've ever actually completed.(I've also backpacked the 31ish mile West Rim Trail a couple of times.) I thought about other trails near me, Black Forest, Mid State and I decided the Horse Shoe Trail could be fun. It's all in Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Northern Terminus is quite close to our home.
The Horse Shoe Trail is approximately 148 miles long starting at The Valley Forge National Historic Park just outside Philadelphia. The trail winds through public and private lands through Chester, Berks, Lancaster, Lebanaon and Dauphin counties. It ends where it intersects with The Appalachian Trail on top of Stony Mountain just North of Harrisburg. The trail is maintained by the 100% volunteer Horse-Shoe Trail Conservancy. Check them out here: http://hstrail.org/
While I plan to complete it in one shot, I don't have any aspirations of a fastest known time. That has already been set by the speedy Dan Rose who ran it in a little over 32 hours in 2009. I've exchanged emails with Dan for any tips or pointers he could lend. He was extremely helpful and supportive and I concluded I still need to investigate resupply opportunities along the trail. I plan to run it in the reverse direction than he chose, so I'll be essentially running home. I'm also giving myself the entire Memorial Day Weekend to complete it. My plan for May 22nd is for Janice to put me on a train to Paoli, figure out how to get from there to Valley Forge (4 miles), turn on my Spot Messenger, start my watch and run. I don't yet know how I'll get home from Clarks Valley, but I've got time to figure that out.
Part of a personal challenge like this is to let others know you're attempting it. It adds legitimacy and making it public also keeps that internal fire stoked. So here's my word to the world, I'm going run/hike/walk the Horse Shoe Trail as fast as I can as a fun challenging way to spend Memorial Day Weekend and celebrate my 54th birthday.
More to come - stay tuned.