Sunday, January 20, 2008

course changes

As a Jefferson Memorial Forest volunteer “trail ranger” I’m able to keep up with the status of trail maintenance & realignments, especially when it pertains to the trails used during the LLTH event. The course has changed every year that the event has taken place – there have been somewhat major re-routes, but most have been minor changes. Some trail sections are closed to allow “resting” of the area & later rotated back into service. Management also has an ongoing program to eliminate steep and/or difficult to maintain sections of trail thruout the forest. What this means is that some steeper hills are being eliminated from the course each year. Some may remember back prior to 2006 when the steepest section on the course was where the trail went straight up a washed out gulley on the Red Trail and you had to use all fours to get up – no such sections close to that today. So far since February 2007, there has been one section of trail that has been re-routed around a hill approaching Tom Wallace Lake. 50K race veterans may remember this quad burning hill at around mile 14 that’s only on the outbound portion of the Siltstone Trail. This steep, stair stepped section has been replaced with a couple small switchbacks and a trail bypassing the top of the hill. There is another re-route of the Siltstone Trail scheduled to be opened soon near Jefferson Hill Road. Whether this is opened prior to race day is still pending. This big long hill being bypassed is another stair stepped section with this one hill being the most difficult, in my opinion, on the 50K course. It’s not even easy going down with all the steps & roots & sharp twists in the trail, but with the course being an out and back on Siltstone, the trip going back up this hill is one you (or your legs) will remember long after the finish. Tune in for updates on this latest re-route. For runners who are concerned about the change in the length of the races, it’s in the works to have the courses re-checked by GPS & wheel. An elevation profile for the entire 50K & 15M courses is likely to be posted on the website prior to Feb 16.

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