Are we just Fools? That would be an easy answer. As runners, we sometimes find ourselves in places the day after a race where we fight to get to the top of a set of stairs. We struggle even more to get back down them again. It really is a fair question for those around to ask. Why do you do this?
I have other hobbies. I really enjoy fishing. It presents a challenge to be in the right place with the right bait and an accurate cast to be successful. To do it well, it requires some planning and preparation before heading out. The reward of a tug on the line lets you know that you are doing a good job.
There is golf too. In golf, you can opt for a cart to get to each consecutive shot. Enjoying the outdoors with a cold beverage of choice that is never too far away. While it may not be the most physically demanding activity, skill on the golf course is easily distinguished between players of different ability.
But running offers a challenge on a more personal level.
Is it fun? Sometimes. Is it a sense of accomplishment? Usually. There is the finishers medal, a great parting gift and souvenir to remind us of each race. Are these the things that keep us coming back?
Western Reserve’s Fools Trail Run takes place on the Manatoc Scout Reservation. The reservation is located within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Peninsula, Ohio. Comprising of nearly 600 acres, it consists of lakes, trails, fields, and rustic cabins allowing for varied uses during the year.
If you are part of the Boy Scouts of America, access to the reservation and camps Manatoc and Butler might be familiar. But as a Northeast Ohio trail runner, the facilities, and grounds are generally restricted. The Fools Run is a rare chance to experience what the private trails have to offer.
This was my first time participating in the event and running these trails. In the weeks leading up I heard plenty of stories of how difficult the conditions can get. The course is comprised primarily of single-track with an occasional connecting section on roads through the Manatoc and Butler camps.
Thanks to a fairly dry spring, the trails were in excellent condition. That is not to say there weren’t some muddy sections to navigate. But all in all, they were very runnable.
My Garmin GPS measured each of my two laps at just under 8 miles.
Looking strictly at the elevation profile, it is not the most intimidating course on numbers alone. Overall gain in elevation is just under 1,800 feet across 25k. The tightly wound trails made the most of this. There were several steep climbs with one coming just before the finish.
As always with Western Reserve, the course was well marked and with volunteers along the way to keep runners on track. There were plenty of aid stations stocked with water, electrolytes, and fuel.
There was an option for upgrade to premium swag which I took advantage of. A Salomon AGILE 250 Set which includes a stretch fit belt along with a soft hydration flask. Something that I am looking forward to trying out on future runs!
Fools Trail Run is a challenging course and a well-coordinated event by Western Reserve Racing and volunteers.
So why do we do this again?
I intended to write down thoughts immediately after the race. Recollection is always best right after an event, right? I sat down in the chair to begin. Nothing. In fact, it was worse than nothing. Counting coherently from one to five would be a chore, let alone putting sentences together in paragraphs.
Maybe this is where the answer is found. The hours immediately after the finish line where we know for certain that there was nothing left to give. Our bodies sore and our thoughts jumbled. Weeks or even months of training coordinated for one enormous effort to cross a challenging course in the least amount of time personally possible.
I’m still uncertain how to put this into words. There will surely be another race to come, a set of stairs to struggle to climb, and undoubtedly a question from someone of, why?