After much research and bugging runners I know in the south part of the state I settled on Murphy-Hanrehan as the location for my long run this weekend. Why so far from home? Had a baptism to attend in the area. Side benefit: new trail = less boredom with my long runs in the future.
Printed out a map to the park, searched a local running groups' website for suggested routes, bugged Wayne late at night and got a link to his garmin data from the Surf the Murph, and settled on a route that would allow me to get in 16-18 miles and be able to stop by my car to refill my water bottle and hook up with my son for the second half of the run. The planned route incoporated parts of the Surf the Murph course, though not all as some of those trails are closed in the summer (what is Oak Wilt anyway?!?).
I opted to park at the Horse Trail parking lot, in the middle of the trail system, and headed out on the trails south of the road. I had brought a map along with the route I planned on traveling highlighted. Good thing as there are many, many trail intersections. Most are marked with a post and the intersection number, but not all. All this complicated by my unfamiliarity with the area and what direction I was heading in. Meant lots of stops at intersections to determine where I needed to head next.
The trails are pretty wide, especially on the south side of the road, and I shared them with hikers, dog walkers and a few horses (and their droppings). Nice hills, though mild by Duluthian standards ;-> Heading north of the road, the trails got a bit narrower and more shaded and included a few more rocks and obstacles to avoid. I ended up not finding some of the trails I meant to run there (and what were those large mounds covered with tarps north of intersection 12?) and hitting a dead end on a road. Backtracked and headed south, finding a nice section of single-track south of the road that led me back to the parking lot. Good hills on the north side of the road - but I was a bit worried about them for the second loop as it has been a few weeks since I have done a long run (Superior 25K to be exact).
Checked my watch as I hit an intersection as I neared the trail head and thought about heading out on another loop as I was a bit earlier than our projected meeting time, but opted to go check the lot - just in case. Good thing as Jason was already there!
Refilled my water bottle, and we headed out. This time incorporated a longer loop on the south side and repeated all of my previous run, without the backtracking. This was Jason's first time on trails, so tried to take it easy on him ;->. Ended up running 1:15 on my own and another 1:40 with Jason.
Knowing that trail running is a slippery slope... how long do you think it will be until he enters a trail race?
Nice day for a run - temps were moderate, nice breeze, and good company! Had a blast running out there and someday would like to get back and explore some more.
Will post some more about the Isle Royale trip in a day or so.
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