Today I had a great run at Bradbury. I planned to meet Chuck and Stephen there at 6am, hopefully they didn't mind that I was running a few minutes late. We headed off on a loop that I ran a few months ago while there was still snow on the ground HERE. The only problem was that there was snow on the ground the last time I ran this loop, in fact I had never seen it any other way and without the snowmobile tracks I wasn't sure how easy it would be to follow.
As I feared the trail looked completely different and was quite overgrown in places. We made a few wrong turns but were generally headed in the right direction (with the exception of a half mile out and back along Lawrence Rd). Just before reaching the power line trail, about 4.5 miles into the run, we crested a hill in a field and could see the Pineland equestrian center and the Gray weather station further off to the west. Once on the power lines the trail seemed to disappear completely under long grass, but we pressed on. Not long after entering this "trail" we spotted a large, low flying hawk that was moving in our direction and we even got to hear it let out a sharp cry. That was a nice distraction from grass.
Soon after, we crested a hill and came to a spot where the grass was cut short and we discovered just how well the Maine tick population is thriving. Between the three of us I think we removed close to 30 ticks from our legs and socks. Kinda creepy. Back into the long grass and swampy trail we trudged for another few miles until we eventually came to Poland Range Road. Just beyond this spot is (I think) Chandler Brook which we ran across all winter, but with the exception of Stephen we didn't want to attempt to get across now. The road actually crosses the river and we took the opportunity, now that we were finally out of the grass for good, to do another tick removal session. Just as we crossed the bridge we discovered a large turtle on the side of the road, close enough that we almost stepped on it before realizing what it was. We stopped for a minute and debated whether or not we should try to move the turtle to a safer place where it wasn't at risk of getting hit by a car. Not wanting to lose any fingers Stephen and Chuck attempted to encourage the turtle to move by lifting it's back side with some carefully placed sticks. This is when we discovered that she was laying eggs in a hole she had just dug! We moved her carefully back into place and decided to leave her just where we found her, even though this was a highly dangerous place to be laying eggs, literally inches from the pavement.
From here we stuck to the roads for a little over 3 miles to get back to the park where we were supposed to meet Emma at 8:00. We were a few minutes late (at least) but luckily Emma waited for us. We had covered nearly 12 miles by this point so needed to refill water bottles and get a quick snack before heading out for more. With Emma we ran the complete Scuffle race course to assess how much more course marking needed to be done. Emma and I had met up with Blaine and his wife Erin to make a start marking the course on Friday night but we didn't get it all done. The trails in the park were so much nicer to run on than the ones under the power line trail, I can't wait for the race tomorrow to run them with a big group.
Since Emma had to work this afternoon/evening she left after we completed the race course, while Stephen, Chuck and I headed back out with a handful of arrow signs and surveyor flags each to run the course again and finish the marking. By now it was getting pretty warm but the densely wooded trails provided enough shade to keep us from getting too hot. Unfortunately the part of the course that needed marking was the furthest section from where we started so we had to carry all our supplies for several miles before we could begin to unload them. Oh well, it's all good training.
With the course all marked and 24 miles under their belts Chuck and Stephen decided to take off, both of them were in a hurry to get to the post office to send off their volunteer service requirement forms for the Vermont 100 in July, the deadline is tomorrow! I decided to keep going for another lap of the Scuffle course since I wanted to get in at least 5 hours of running today and there were a couple spots on the course that needed a little more attention to ensure that no runners would have trouble finding their way during the race. Without anyone else to push me along this third lap was pretty slow, but I was still enjoying myself and there were plenty of friendly mountain bikers out there to keep me company.
I'm not sure how fresh Stephen, Chuck and I will feel for the race tomorrow, but at least we have the advantage of knowing the course very well.
distance: 30.17 miles
After the run I went to Classic Custard in Freeport and gorged myself on vanilla custard with peanut butter cups. Delicious.