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"a woman can't survive
by her own breath
she must know
the voices of mountains"
- "Fire" by Joy Harjo
Today Jim and I decided to join one of the official training runs organized by Karen Powers of the Bighorn Wild & Scenic Trail Run staff. Karen, mother of RD Michelle Manneville, is in charge of course logistics, including clearing trails and marking the course prior to race day.

This run includes about twelve of the last eighteen miles of all four races that will be held on June 18-19: the 30K, 50K, 50-miler, and 100-miler. Nine runners, including Jim, joined Karen from the Head of the Dry Fork to the Tongue River Canyon trailhead. Although this section includes three good climbs before Horse Creek Ridge, it has a net descent from there to the trailhead of about 3,600 feet.

I decided to "do my own thing" to avoid that knee-wrecking descent, which I'd already done eight days ago. I ran about the same distance as the rest of the group but in an out-and-back and not point-to-point fashion.


Jim and I met most of the other runners near our campground in Dayton. Several runners left their vehicles at the end point five miles up the Tongue River Canyon Road. A couple of us transported everyone to the start at Dry Fork. We took three young women with us in our truck, leaving no room for Cody. I missed him during my run but it was fun to meet some new runners.

On the dirt road to Dry Fork I spotted a moose in the woods. Jim took this picture (which I cropped) since the big fella was on his side of the road:

Jim and the rest of the group started up Freeze Out Road from the location of the Dry Fork aid station at 7,650 feet elevation. Since I'd also run that section recently, I drove the truck to the top of Camp Creek Ridge a little over a mile away (about 8,100 feet) and got this photo of two of the runners as they worked their way up:

I started my run there with Karen and several other runners but got behind them several times when I was taking photos. Jim and I both ran some with others in the group and some alone. He was in the middle of the group and I was closer to the back -- just like we are in races!

I'm noticing less snow and more flowers each time we drive up to Dry Fork. There is still some snow in deep-shaded areas and near the edges of forests. Jim reported that the snow is all gone from Fence Spring now. Parts of this section are dry, some are wet from recent rain and/or snowmelt.

I'll include photos here in the order in which I took them from Camp Creek Ridge (8,100 feet), along the undulating dirt roads and trails to the Upper Sheep Creek aid station location, down to Sheep Creek (7,300 feet), and up to Horse Creek Ridge (8,000 feet). This is the direction runners in all four races will see the course in a little less than three weeks.



That's the last I saw of Jim (in white sunshirt)







Location of Upper Sheep Creek aid station during race


Horse Creek Ridge




Heading down to the fence line

Then runners drop into the Tongue River Canyon.

You can see photos of the Tongue River Canyon trail in the May 23 entry.

Today I ran about half a mile down from the high point on Horse Creek Ridge, said goodbye to the last runners, and turned around to go back to our truck alone. The remaining photos show this section in that direction, the way the 100-milers will see it outbound from approximately miles 7-12.












Since I was well warmed up, I was able to run quite a bit of the 5+ miles back to the truck. I drove back down 38 miles to the campground and arrived about the same time as Jim. He caught a ride with one of the other runners who left his vehicle at the Tongue River Canyon trailhead. We both felt like we had a good workout today.

When we compared notes about our runs, it was interesting to discover we both got off-course near  the same place but going in opposite directions up/down Horse Creek Ridge from/to Sheep Creek. We both got back on course OK within a quarter mile. The course isn't marked yet and this is a confusing section when the jeep road morphs into single-track (and vice versa, the other direction) but it will be well-marked on race day.

I'm beginning to put course photos from our training runs on our Picasa site and will add more from now until race day. Check it out.


Happily, no one in the group, including Jim, saw any rattlesnakes today through the canyon area. He was glad some young, faster runners were up front so they scared any rattlers away before he got there!

Last night we were watching a "survival" type of show on cable TV where a guy killed a snake in the Black Hills of South Dakota, skinned it, and roasted it over an open fire. We both had sort of a gag response watching that, wondering if we'd have the guts to eat rattlesnake meat if we were hungry enough.

Probably, if it was a matter of life or death. We just hope we don't have to make that decision.

Marsh flowers on today's run

Speaking of cable TV . . . we were having some problems getting clear channels so we mentioned it to the Hoods, who own the Foothills Campground. "Cable Guy" came out to repair the severed cable in the campsite next to ours and discovered our line was crimped. He fixed it, too. Now Jim's a very happy boy with dozens of clear channels to watch in the evening.

We were both amused to watch Cable Guy chew bubble gum and smoke a cigarette at the same time. That's a first for us!

Next entry: more training runs on the Bighorn course

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the Ultra Lab

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2009 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil