6 months ago many of enjoyed the fall colors of Oil Creek State Park and 6 months from now, many of us will head out for another or for our 1st OC buckle!
This Saturday, the Oil Creek FA 50K is all set to go. Here are some details/updates Luckily, not much, if any, snow is scheduled for the rest of the week and temps are hovering in the mid to upper 20s. Hopefully, that'll harden up the trail a bit from the warmth of the 30s over the past weekend and the rain. Right now, it's looking mighty fine for running on Saturday. Be prepared for plenty of wet feet, muddy trails, and slushy snow. A 2nd or 3rd pair of socks wouldn't be a bad idea with plenty of lube already on. Weather Forecast
Start Time: 7am from the Titusville Middle School parking lot, the same location as race headquarters on race weekend this October
This is a FA (fat-ass) and it will stay true to that. "No Fees, No Awards, No Aid, No Wimps" Carry what you need and be prepared. For me, I plan on wearing my Nathan pack filled with water and some Heed electrolyte powder to make up drinks along the way. I may drop some aid at Petroleum Center, 1/2 way around the 50K loop. There is a pavilion there that serves as a very patriotic aid station during the Oil Creek Trail Runs. For those of you definitely making the whole trek around, this is an option. Leave things there or stash/hide at your own risk. Here is a Google link to Petroleum Center...easy to stop en route to Titusville if approaching Titusville from the south.
Recommendation: let's all stay together at least until we get to the trail. There are a few miles of asphalt in the beginning and those unfamiliar with the area may not find the trail if left behind. Once on the trail, just follow those yellow blazes. Leave nothing but footprints and take plenty of pictures!
Afterwards, please join us at Perk Place Cafe. Perk Place's owner was both a 50K runner in 2009 and sponsor of the event so please stop by, say "Hi!" and support this local restaurant! Link to Perk Place
Below is a message from the Oil Creek Trail Runs Race Director, Tom Jennings, that he sent out last week. Please review it again and thanks in advance for your cooperation and working together this weekend:
LIGHTING / DISTANCE - With this deep snow I am pretty sure I will have to take the hikers at 10 AM on one or two loops of the northern 5 mile loop between Jersey Bridge and Boughton acid works / suspension bridge. We can do the 5 mile loop in reverse after doing it once if we want more "fun." :-) But I've been in the park nearly every weekend the past two winters either taking GPS readings or training for the McNaughton Park 150 miler, and the trails can vary between a few inches deep and knee deep depending upon the slope you are on. It is typically a hike, not a run, in these conditions. The past two winters it appeared as though I was the only person in the park as the trails were pristine and I had to do trailblazing all of the time, but the interest in the race has gotten a few more folks out on the trails this winter and they might not be quite as bad. But they will still be very challenging with the limited traction in deep snow.
Therefore, those of you attempting the 50K, if we don't have a thaw between now and 2/27 and the snow is this deep and slow going, be prepared to do a lot of hiking and have lighting in case you go longer than you expected. It is very tiring to be trailblazing in loose and deep snow so you may not be able to go as far as you thought. Be prepared to have to return in the direction you came to or be with a group knowledgeable on how to get back the shortest route in case you tire out. It normally takes me 6.5 to 7.5 hours to make a loop in good weather and when I'm in 100 mile race shape. So in this deep snow, I suspect I could not even make the loop even once in that deep of snow, or if I did, it would take me a LONG time. Even the bike path is deep in snow and that is difficult to go miles on that... I've done it before and can tell you this from personal experience the past two winters.
Elite and local runners - please share your experience on the trail in the past few weeks so people are aware of the conditions.
If you have snowshoes they may be more appropriate than trail shoes / spikes if we don't get a thaw.
SAFETY - I recommend traveling in groups. There are still wild animals in the park so be mindful of that as well. Be careful as an emergency rescue will be next to impossible as the bike path is impassable in winter, as well as Miller Farm Rd is now maintained in the winter, it is the road that separates the north and southern half of the park. Bring a whistle just in case. Have a cell phone in case there is an emergency and one of your group members can get to a high point where there is cell phone service.
BATHROOMS (or lack thereof) - In addition, unless I rent a portable toilet, there will be no toilets in the northern half of the park. Wolfkiel Run bathroom near Miller Farm Rd is the northern-most restroom that will be available as the porta-john at the Jersey Bridge parking lot near Drake Well Museum and Titusville is removed during the winter. Plan accordingly with toilet paper / wipes. There are no restrooms at the middle school either. So before you arrive in the morning, you may want to stop at McDonalds or the like to use their restroom and get a hot chocolate. If people reply and let me know there thoughts, I could rent a portable toilet for the Jersey Bridge parking lot at the northern end of the park and about 1.25 miles from the middle school.
XC Ski trails - reminder to stay off to the side of the red loop XC ski trail on the east side of the park, it is the first several miles just north of Petroleum Center. You will see the ski marks and the red tree markings. A lot of work goes into these XC ski trails, please don't ruin them by running in their ski tracks.
Have a great rest of the week, everyone, eat some pasta on Thursday and Friday, and come out ready to have FUN!!!! When the fun stops, head on over to Perk Place!