Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I'm Calling You Out

It's called the Rugged Red for the Red River Gorge.  The Gorge area is a rugged terrain that has thwarted persistent human settlement.  The landscape confounds even foot travel with its steep slopes under towering cliffs below rocky ridges choked with scrubby pines and greenbriars.  Some of us frequently walk in its shady hollows and along its rushing streams that crash all toward the Red River.  We drink it in. 

My body is sixty percent Red River.  It's in my blood and bones.  The energy that erodes those sandstone promontories out of the sky rushes through my veins. 
Admittedly NOT in Powell County or on the Red River

C'mon Powell County people, I'm thirty pounds overweight, and I ran the inaugural Rugged Red Trail Half Marathon!  I'm pretty sure I was the only native Powell Countian who ran the race.  I know there are runners in Powell County.  I see you running past my house in droves.  I know many of you.  You're strong.  You're fast.  And now there is established a world class running event in your own backyard!

Commit to it next year.  Whatever fears or reservations you have now can be overcome.  We're smart people.  We can do this!  It was a tough course, though.  Tough enough to test your spirit.

I intend to improve my results drastically.  In a field of 380 I was 75th overall, the 60th male, and 6th in my age group (40-44).  I was the second Powell County resident and the first native to finish.  Out of 380 registrants only 261 finished.  Eight states were represented.  The furthest distance travelled was from Livermore, California.  There were 205 runners from Kentucky, 62 from Lexington, 38 from Louisville and there were runners from Estill, Clark, Montgomery and Wolfe Counties.  I would also call out runners from Menifee and Lee Counties to come out next year.   

We have no excuses.  We can run the trails in the Gorge after work, early morning, and of varying lengths.  There are also trails at Pilot Knob if you live in the western end of the county.  Heck, I have a hill behind my house with an old logging road I can run that would make a mule puke.  This week I'm going to be out raking the leaves and clearing the cobwebs and next week I'm going to start working on being the best darn hill climber in the state.  My training for the 2015 Rugged Red is about to begin.

We Powell Countians should be dominating this race.  A local should have won it.  I intend to do my best to win it next year.  This should be our thing.

The author of the book of Proverbs wrote:

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Joe Bowen has created an event to benefit our community.  No matter what you think about Joe he is trying to sharpen you—us—and we should seize this opportunity in our community and make it bigger than any event like it in the state.  We need to support it, promote it, and by gosh we need to participate in it!

Your fitness level does not matter.  All that matters is what kind of spirit you want to have for yourself.  If you don't run now look up a couch to 5k training planYou could be in shape for it in time to do a Thanksgiving Day run.  If you are really ambitious try a couch to half marathon and focus on training to the distance on the road first.  If that's too much to wrap your mind around work on the couch to 5k first and then try a plan for 5k to half marathon.  That's how I trained for my first half.

If you’re already a runner then seriously consider stepping up to this challenge.  If you've run half marathons on the road it's simply a matter of conditioning your body to trail running.  If you already trail run then you have absolutely no excuse not to do the Rugged Red next year.

If you run but not that far you have plenty of time to ease up to the distance and condition yourself to run on trails. 

Another local race that needs to grow and needs more community support is the Kiwanis Natural Bridge 5k in May.  It's a fantastic course from the Sky Lift parking lot to the lodge, across the lake and back to the start.  If you've never participated in an official running race you should consider doing it.  Once you do that race next spring you could have plenty of time to train for the Rugged Red.  We also have at least two other 5k events in the county in a given year.
PCHS cross country team in action

Ok, so I'm calling all of you out—my fellow Powell Countians—not because I think you'll fail and put your weakness on display, but because I know you're strong and I want everyone to see your successes.  This race will grow bigger than it has started out.  It was mostly central Kentuckians that participated, but soon the popularity will grow and it will become hard to get into the race, and by then our community will have seen hundreds or thousands of out-of-towners run our trails.  Why not get out ahead of them and show them what we've got?
I'm not saying that everyone out there should be a runner, or a hiker, or a rock climber, or a cyclist.  But we need to own our natural assets in a meaningful way.  We need to take pride in what we have to offer the world that's unique and inspiring. Our landscape, and this race, inspire people. 
There is a group of local people who have started the Powell County Search and Rescue (SAR) Team.  They came out and supported this event in a huge way along with Wolfe County SAR and Menifee County SAR.  They do a lot of good work for visitors to our community and for us.  They provide an advanced level of rescue service to our area.  Please support them.  Please donate to their efforts if you can. 

There were many local people involved in the planning and organization of the event and their energy was crucial to the success of it.  The local government agencies were supportive throughout, and early reports are they are satisfied with the outcome. 
In regards to putting my money where my mouth is I propose the formation of a local running club.  It could be a positive environment where we can share ideas, encouragement, and resources.  The more people that are involved the better it will be.  You don't have to want to race, or run trails, or run on the road, or run fast.  But any of us can benefit by getting involved in a healthy activity and forming stronger community ties.

What say you?

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