Over Hill, Over Dale, As We Hit the Poto Trail

Last year, I was working the finish line food tables at the 2013 Trail Marathon Weekend when a runner walked up. Shuffled, really. He looked like crap – tired, stiff, pale, and haggard. I could have killed him with a sneeze. But he was wearing TWO medals.

“What’s that all about?” I asked, pointing to them.

A different No Wimp. Looks way too chipper, doesn't he.

A different 2013 No Wimp. Looks way too chipper, doesn’t he.

“The No Wimps Challenge,” he said. “I did the half marathon on Saturday, and the 50K today.”

“That’s crazy,” I told him. I’d run the 5-mile Road Ends race that morning, and just those five miles on the trails had trashed me good. But by some miracle I’d finished in the top 10 overall, and I’d been wondering how the hell I was going to top that.

The runner got some food and staggered off, and left me there in amazement. Two long runs back to back on those trails. That was nuts. Totally insane. Impossible.

I had to have those medals.

Fast forward to April 26, 2014. Two weeks after running myself ragged at the Martian half marathon, I’m in the starting chute to run the half on the Potawatomi Trails. And 24 hours later, I’d be in that same starting chute for the 50K. No Wimps Challenge, here I come.

I'm in there somewhere. (Photo courtesy Detroit Runner)

I’m in there somewhere. (Photo courtesy Detroit Runner)

I’d lost count of how many people had called me crazy for signing up for this. Coach Marie, in particular, said it early and often. But she didn’t say no. (I’m sure she knew saying no was futile.) So we worked out a strategy – go easy on Saturday, then rock it out Sunday.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Pinckney Potawatomi trails, let me set the stage a little. Known affectionately (term used loosely) as “the Poto” (Paw-toh), they snake through the woods around Silver Lake, Pinckney, and Hell and are used for hiking, mountain biking, and running. Running Fit holds several races each year on the Poto, with the Trail Marathon being their oldest event.

Race routes are marked with flags. RF races use pink a lot. Also, women do most of the trail marking. Coincidence?

Race routes are marked with flags. RF races use pink a lot. Also, women do most of the trail marking. Coincidence?

The path is often single track (only wide enough for one bike or hiker at one time) and features challenging uphills and downhills, roots, stones, and, on wet days, fields of thick, sticky mud (Run Woodstock 2012). I’d been looking forward to it all winter.

Here are some on-trail photos of the races, courtesy of fellow blogger Detroit Runner. Click this link to read his half marathon recap and see even more awesome photos.

Climbing up the mountain, children...and lots more where that came from.

“Climbing up the mountain, children…” and lots more where that came from.

Did I mention there are roots and rocks on the trail? And for added fun, many are covered by leaves.

Did I mention there are roots and rocks on the trail? And for added fun, many are covered by leaves.

Downed trees are another feature of trail running. At least this one was cut - they aren't always.

Downed trees are another feature of trail running. At least this one was cut – they aren’t always.

To get over swampy areas, there are boardwalks. Sometimes.

To get over swampy areas, there are boardwalks. Sometimes.

Up next: Some of my memorable moments from the weekend, and how well my strategy worked out.

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6 responses to “Over Hill, Over Dale, As We Hit the Poto Trail

  1. Awesome pictures!!! What an amazing trail route!!!

    • Aren’t they? I’m glad Detroit Runner took his camera along. I tripped enough without mine. I will pass your comment along to him.

      • Awesome, great!!! 🙂 🙂

      • Oh, and by the way – I really enjoyed your post on coffee shop rules. I’ve posted the “Drink Coffee” sign as my May image of the month. Also love the Unattended Children sign – there’s one of them at Gemma’s in Empire, MI – one of my frequent summer haunts when we go up north.

  2. Now that is hard core! Amazing and congrats.

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