What better was to celebrate Halloween than by running through the enchanted forest of Guilford County. The Triple Lake Trails could be an eerie place, especially on October 31st. The trees are thick and gnarled, and the trail winds confusingly through the backwoods in a never ending “Blair Witch” like conundrum. Weird noises echoed off in the distance, first sounding like barking dogs, then like blowing wind whistling through tree branches, only to reverberate into the dull roar of a distant stream, the direction of which could never be isolated. Spooky stuff.
Luckily the trail was well marked. It still was tricky going, though, with lots of potential hazards lurking below a thick layer of fallen leaves which effectively concealed most of the obstacles. I fell several times, as did many of the other runners. Being that it’s Halloween, I kept envisioning these skeleton hands hiding below the surface and grabbing at our feet and ankles as we past by.
The sun shot broken shards of light through the thickets, distorting the ground and playing tricks with your footing. There were times when everything melded into one, as though you could step freely onto a stable floor of leaves, but this was just an illusion. Every footstep needed to be executed with precision, or a stumble was inevitable. Combine this technically challenging terrain with plenty of climbs and descents, and you have one haunting Halloween marathon.
This was the sixth “Trail Marathon” during the Endurance 50. As much as I love running on trails, after forty-four marathons, a mellower version—kind of a Triple Lake Trails Marathon “Lite”—would have been just fine, thank you. But the people and the setting turned something that would have been memorable, into something that will be unforgettable. The Endurance 50 has been about superlatives, and today the streak continued.
There was a marathon finish party setup outside of VF corporate headquarters (VF is the parent company of The North Face, who is the title sponsor of the Endurance 50). I ran to the finish with the 5th grade class of a local school, and were met by the Mayor and the Chairman & CEO of VF. They were serving lunch to 1,200 employees and members of the community. After the luncheon, they presented me with a bronzed shoe commemorating the Endurance 50, and a donation of $5,000 to Karno Kids to help support youth outdoor activity programs. They invited my daughter and son, as well as me, onto the stage to accept the award and donation, which I think illustrates VF’s commitment to our youth and community.
After the presentation, I got to spend some time with the other runners, swapping war stories from the trail, comparing bruises, and laughing about the juxtaposition of finishing one of the most demanding marathons of your life, and then being ushered to an awards banquet directly afterward covered in dirt and grime.
After all the runners had departed, we packed up the bus, loaded everybody onboard, and headed off down the highway once again. Thanks to you all for a Halloween “treat” my family and I will never forget.
On the road again,
Dean & Crew
P.S. The “finish party” in New York City will be on November 5th from 12:00-4:00 PM. The location is at The North Face retail store: 2101 Broadway (at 73rd), New York, (not far from the NYC Marathon finish). Phone number: 212-362-1000
All Endurance 50 participants (at any of the 50 marathons across the country), guests and fans are welcomed. So please swing by if you can!