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Posts Tagged ‘French Creek’

So the Philadelphia area is in the midst of a heat wave, and last weekend’s LST and all my other runs in the past week have been nothing more than attempts, mostly unsuccessful,  to acclimate myself to hot weather.  Yesterday’s temperature was over 100, and I didn’t even bother to go out.  Not only have the heat and humidity been bad, but the air quality index has been in the “unhealthy” range.  So, I wasn’t expecting to do well at today’s Double Trouble 15K race at French Creek State Park.  In fact, I was sort of feeling like I’d be lucky to finish.  But the trail gods were smiling and it turned out OK.  Here’s my capsule review:

This race, put on by Pretzel City, is about 50 miles from Philly.  It’s called double trouble because you can run either 15K or 30K and you can decide after the 15 if you want to keep going (I didn’t).  The 15K was part of the USATF off-road series and that’s waht I ran.  It was supposed to start at 9, but we waited around for 5 or 10 minutes because there was thunder and the race director was waiting to see if there would be lightning (there wasn’t).  Eventually he started the race after some staged rivalry between the 15K and 30K runners, and the usual Ron Horn jokes of questionable taste.  The race had 3 water stops with Gatorade, and the course was super well-marked and not terribly challenging.  There was one hill maybe 2/3 of the way through that most people seemed to be walking.  It seemed to me that the temperature got better as the race progressed, but maybe that was my usual weirdness..I always feel better in the second half of a race.  At about mile 7 I was overconfident on the downhill and lost my footing.  I managed to remain upright by means of a wing-flapping bicycling sort of routine, which must have been very entertaining to the people behind me.  I took it a bit easier for the rest of the race.  ( I’m pretty sure it was my Performance-Enhancing Kokopelli temporary tattoo that saved me from an embarrassing encounter with the earth.)  Anyway, I came in first in my age group (thanks,  again, Kokopelli) and got a nice medal.  The after-race food was copious and carb-loaded, though I didn’t have the stomach for the grilled hotdogs, bagels with various spreads, PB&J, Tootsie Rolls, oreos and Twizzlers on offer.    There was music as well and and it was all in view of the beautiful Hopewell Lake..  The downside: not enough potties.  The verdict: nice course, well organized,  good food, worth the trip.

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First my rant.  I was excited to download the newer version of MapMyRun+ on my iPhone,  and start incorporating photos into my routes at marked points.  I upgraded from the free version to the paid version.  So during this unfamiliar and complated route, it kept stopping to complain that it couldn’t save the photos (apparently weak signal) so it ended up only saving two out of about 15 photos onto the route.  It also just decided to quit At a certain point, so my saved route stops 2 miles from the end.  I really think that this app needs to be a bit more robust and forgiving about losing signal, and definitely shouldn’t arbitrarily decide you want to quit your run.

Today’s field trip was to French Creek State Park, about an hour’s drive from Philadelphia.  Here’s a tip.  Ignore the signs directing you to the Main Day Use Parking and avoid, at all costs, going there.  There is a huge multi-tiered parking lot, and a picnic area, where you will find  100 people, all cooking a meal at 9 AM, and waiting for the pool to open, playing football, listening to radios, and in general not contributing to an atmosphere of bucolic tranquility.

French Creek information is here.

So, after spending about half an hour searching for the (incredibly) unmarked trail head, I finally gave up on the so-called “Boone Trail”, and ran around Hopewell Lake, enjoying the view, and eventually found  the Horseshoe trail instead.  There were horses on it.  Also, a bird’s nest in a laurel tree with baby birds in it.  I took a  picture which is included in slide show, but didn’t want to get too close for fear of frightening off the adult bird  sitting on it.  Look carefully at the top of the picture and you’ll see the bird.  I took the Horseshoe Trail to the fire tower, then came back down to the lake, for a 6 or 7 mile easy run.  I was glad I wore my high-visibility orange shirt, as I seemed to be in state gamelands at one point, (though I’m pretty sure it isn’t hunting season for anything.)  So, I probably won’t post the route, because of all the embarrassing GPS scribble at the beginning while I tried to find my way.

This is a nice place to trail run, once you figure out where to find the trails, and there’s also a pool, disc golf, and boats to rent at the lake.  The only significant elevation gain I noticed was (as expected) up the trail to the fire tower.  The trails range from soft packed earth to somewhat rocky.  There is a trail race here in July.

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