Tag: trailreview

Bryant Grove Trail – Review

Bryant Grove Trail – Review

The Mad Cows were on the mooooove yesterday!  Say what?  My local running group is the Mad Cow Running Company (MCRC), located in Murfreesboro, TN.  For some strange reason, we like each other enough to crawl out of bed on a frosty Saturday morning to hit the trails.  We have a really great and dedicated group of folks so it isn’t uncommon for some of the herd to drive for an hour (or more) to find our next great trail running adventure.

Being in Tennessee, we have access to so many wonderful trails, it seems like I should start sharing the details with everyone else.  As such, I will try to share information about the trails we encounter when the herd is on the move.  Yesterday, MCRC went for a fun run on the Bryant Grove Trail.

Here the basics of the trail:

Location:  The trail is located in Long Hunter State Park (2910 Hobson Pike, Hermitage, TN 37076) – go in the main entrance of the park, make your first left, and the trail head is on the right hand side of the parking lot near the play ground.  There are number of other great trails in Long Hunter State Park, including a beautiful 2 mile paved loop around the lake, but we’ll focus on the Bryant Grove Trail for the purposes of this post.

Length:  The trail is 4 miles out and 4 miles back for a total distance of 8 miles.  The trail does NOT loop.

What else? The park opens at 8 am (sometimes earlier in the summer) and closes at sunset.  No pets allowed on this trail or in the Couchville Lake Recreation area.  There are bathrooms at both ends of the trail.  The trail is clearly marked with white blazes and mile markers.  And if you really like the trail, there is a 9 mile race there in August, sponsored by the Nashville Striders, called the Wild Thang 9 miler.

In my mind, this is one of the best trails for new trail runners.  The trail has minimal elevation gain (approximately 200 ft) over the course of the trail, so that runners can focus on the run.  Most of the folks I have talked to about becoming trail runners report that their biggest fear is tripping and twisting and ankle or falling and getting really hurt.  This is always a risk, but this trail is not super technical so it allows runners to get their trail legs.  In fact, yesterday I ran this trail as my first trail run after spraining my ankle at a trail race in mid-December.

I like this trail because it gives me an opportunity to run fast due to large open stretches without a lot of obstacles.  And let’s face it, the best part of trail running is the adrenaline high of zipping through the woods.  There are a few more technical spots that allow you to test out “quick feet”.  With short stretches of rocks and roots coming in clusters, some quick feet are needed to keep moving without tripping.  This is a good place to practice the skill.  If you are new to trails and want to get better at quick feet and improve ankle stability, I highly recommend jump roping.

If you come from the Couchville Lake Recreational Area side, you will pass by beautiful views of the water on your right during the first mile.  There is a mixture of cedar tree groves and single track trail but also plenty of parts of the trail where you can run two folks across.  The deer in the area are without fear and it isn’t uncommon for them to walk out onto the trail to investigate the people.  If you are lucky, and get up early on a cold day, you may also see some frost flowers like the herd found yesterday.

In short, this trail offers a lot of opportunities for new and veteran runners. For those dabbling in trail running, the trail allows runners the chance to practice basic trail running skills of quick feet and the ever important, picking up of your feet (so you don’t trip) without having to worry about hills, poor trail markings, or an overgrown trail.  As for veteran runners, it is a great place to practice raw trail speed.

Running Adventures – Sewanee Perimeter Trail

Running Adventures – Sewanee Perimeter Trail

One of the parts I enjoy the most about running is the storytelling.  Our sport is so unique in the fact that we share much of our running lore and knowledge through mentoring and storytelling.  We have all been through grueling races and training runs only to spend hours reminiscing the misery and adventure later.

Last weekend myself and several members of our running group, the Mad Cow Running Company (credit to Tyler our “hype-man” for the videos and water drops), visited the Sewanee Perimeter Trail.  The trail stretches roughly 20 miles along the perimeter of the campus, within the Boundary of the University of the South and follows the bluff line of the Cumberland Plateau.  The trail is mostly single track trail but does cross a few logging roads and runs on a paved portion near the local farmer’s market.  The primary users of the trail are hikers and trail runners but there are some mixed use portions for horses and mountain bikes.

Our herd met at 8 am on Saturday at the Memorial Cross.  We parked at the few spaces afforded by the small gravel lots near the cross and took a moment to check our gear and water, as well as, to take in the view of the cross and the valley which it overlooks below.  The temperatures were already in the 80’s and forecasts called for temps to soar into the 90’s by noon with heat advisories and “real feel” temperatures expected to hit well into the hundreds.  Two of our cows were kind enough to do early morning water drops at 8.4 and 14.2 miles.  With temps as they were, we knew that we would easily go through our multiple liters of water during the 20 miles.

Five little bovines set off on the trail going counter-clockwise away from the Cross.  For most of the first mile we did “power hiking” as the trail winds through some rocky portions that required a bit of finessing and climbing over rocks.  In my opinion, the first mile is the prettiest but doesn’t have the great overlooks of the later portions of the trail.  The sweaty herd alternated a mixture of walk and run intervals with the goal of taking it nice and easy to keep from getting overheated and planned to average about 15 minutes/mile.

The trail was a mixture of more technical portions covered with roots and rocks with more groomed portions that were very runnable.  It goes without saying that there were hills.  Many hills.  The herd made it to the first water drop without major incident.  We did have to make a few minor detours as parts of the trail were “under construction”.  We were all grateful for the water drop as we had all nearly emptied our supplies of water in the first 8 miles.  I won’t share the indecent comments made during the exuberance of having ice cold water.

And then the herd was off again.  After a few miles, the cow in front of me stepped off the trail to let two oncoming runners pass.  Said cow yelped.  Not being the yelping type, I looked up to find said cow flailing and yelping and running away at speed. . . and a nest of yellow jackets.  With no time to spare I changed course and shouted a warning to the runner behind me.  But the damage was done and one of our herd had picked up a half-dozen or more stings.  According to Wikipedia, yellow jackets are a hazard on this trail – nailed it.

After a quick assessment, our wounded cow was still able to continue and did not appear to be majorly allergic to stings.  But, after a few miles our cow had itchy hands, swollen appendages, full body hives, and looked like he just got punched in the mouth.  So as our herd often does in the case of an emergency, we huddled up and problem solved.  Mercifully we were close to our next water drop which was also near a road.  By taking the road, we were only 2ish miles from the cars rather than the 5-6 miles remaining on the trail.  Half the cows ran to get their cars.  One car to gather the wounded cow; one car to grab Benadryl and Zantac.

And this cow, this cow called our herd nurse who wasn’t able to join us but knew exactly what to do.  She provided me with precise dosing instructions of what to take and how often.  Let me just say, a person can consume a lot of Benadryl before they will overdose.  Thanks to the quick work of the cows, we had a happy ending with everyone making it home safely and one cow having one heck of a Benadryl hangover.

The moral of this story is stick together and carry a better first aid kit on the trails.  As for the future, the cows will be out running this trail and many others in the future.  And in time, this story will move into the annals of running lore where 6 stings became 50 stings and yellow jackets become dragons.  And more importantly, where cows become legendary.