Promptly at 6:00 AM a group of 13 runners and their crew, Bob Coyne, arrived at Fletcher's Boat House to be ferried out to the far reaches of Montgomery County for a run from the Patuxent River through the Northwest Branch, Sligo Creek, Rock Creek and Battery Kimble park systems back to Fletchers on the Potomac. Actually, Michele Burr was on this team so we weren't all ready to go at 6:00 AM. But eventually the caravan was off and found its way to somewhere near the Howard County Line for the start. Lining up in the parking lot at 7:00 AM were Jim Cavanaugh, John Schwabe, Kerry Owen, Alex (?), Carolyn Gernand, Chris (?), Mike Broderick, Mike Priddy, Linda Wack, Mary Deppa, Quatro Hubbard, Jaret Seiberg and Michele Burr.
After a perfunctory trail briefing, we all realized that our only hope of finding our way was to stick close to Jaret who appeared to know where he was going. This hope rapidly vanished as we found ourselves bushwacking through dense underbrush looking for the Patuxent River and back again. Suspicions of a longer day than we originally expected grew stronger as we heard Jaret mumbling to himself, "I can't believe I missed the turn". Shortly after this we did come upon a trail which led us past a small clearing in the woods which held a primitive looking stockade made of sticks and string and a nearby pack laying by the side of the trail without any human to be seen.
This trail did however lead to a clearing where we were then put to the test of deciding whether to retrace our steps in search of the "right" trail or running in mass across this private property on the direct line to the intended route. The trespassers won and we were off toward the Northwest Branch, or so we thought. After crossing a large open field and our first major road, we came upon a dirt road blocked by a large fence with a tall gate chained and locked. No problem advised Jaret, we'll just climb around and over the fence. After clearing this little obstacle, we were off and running on what for the most part were nice and marked trails following watercourses south through Silver Spring toward DC.
Although the weather was a good bit cooler than in the earlier part of the week, everyone was very glad to see Bob Coyne and his pickup truck about an hour and forty five minutes into the run. Bob wasn't able to run, but he filled in as our master crew person bringing water, PB & J sandwiches, chips and pretzels to various road crossings throughout the run. At several points where the directions were a bit murky, Bob had sprinkled flour along the trail to show us the way.
There were a few shorter road sections along the way as we wound through some neighborhoods to get from one trailhead to the next. We also discovered that Montgomery County has one of the most extensive networks of playgrounds and fancy slides anyone had ever seen. These provided frequent opportunities for crosstraining activities during the run. We also had the opportunity to run across the new trestle bridge across Rock Creek along the Georgetown Branch of the Capital Crescent Trail. It's a pretty impressive view looking down from the scenic overlooks which were built into the bridge.
By the time we got down near the DC line the weather had gotten warmer and the original gang of 13 had mostly broken into two groups. Our only DNF of the day was Kerry Owen who had a recurrence of the inflammation in the tendon of her foot. She filled in well as Bob's crew assistant for the remainder of the run and had the grill fired up and coolers at the ready when we arrived at Fletchers.
Both Quatro Hubbard and Jaret were wearing GPS systems during the run, and the concensus was that we had covered 32 miles by the end which the first group reached at about 1:30 PM after a 7:00 AM start.
Everyone brought something to share for a fine cookout at the end with hot dogs and sauerkraut and marinated Mahi Mahi thanks to Kerry.
Jaret did recover nicely from his early navigational challenges in the woods and led us all on a scenic and enjoyable adventure, with a lot of much appreciated help and aid from Bob Coyne. I think some of us might even be tempted to do it again if they ask.
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