Starkey Park Map Progress: April 2014

My  last post introduced my new project of re-writing the map for the Starkey Park trails.  There are miles and miles of great trails to explore at Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, but not that easy to navigate. This weekend we were able to uncover a few new trails to add to my growing map.

The first path I wanted to find was a very obvious connector trail between the hiking path and the horse trail.  Obvious by satellite, that is.  I have never actually seen this path as I run by.  Saturday, Sean, NiKYO (my trusty pup), and I set out to look for it.  It was hidden a bit, but we were able to spot it behind some bushes, and then follow it all the way to the horse trail.  It was an interesting cut through, and there were some boot prints along the way, so we were not the only ones to know how to find this “secret connector”.  Once we were on the horse trails, we made our way along some routes we have not travelled in a while, so it was great checking them out again.  A water crossing forced us to change our original plans, but it ended up helping us discover a new path we have never been on:  Black Racer Loop!

We took the very squiggly path that had us zig-zagging in different directions.  At one spot, we saw a black racer snake sunning itself (hence the name of the path)!  Sean and I were not quite sure where it would take us, and it meandered a lot longer than we originally thought.  After about a mile, we finally came out onto a path we knew: the east side of Moccasin Way.  NiKYO and I had just ran this route on Thursday, and I had even made a mental note to check out the path that turned off of it at a later date… I just didn’t know the later date would be two days later, on accident, approaching from the other direction!

It was a great discovery, and once home, I rechecked our route on satellite, then added it to my sketched out map.  (I’ll be posting my actual map soon, once I have more progress on it.)  I can’t wait to uncover more trails!



Re-Writing the Map

StarkeyHiking trail

I love to explore new places and run on different trails, but most of my running is done close to home at Starkey Wilderness Park.  There are tons of trails, different terrain, and many miles of combinations you can vary your routes.  Most of my routes start out on the main hiking loop, but I love checking out a side trail and finding out where it goes.  However, the Starkey Park map stinks.  Really stinks.  I’m pretty sure if I relied on this map to find my way, I would NOT find my way.  I’ve learned these trails by running them, and having Sean show me all the different connecting trails (he’s been running in Starkey a lot longer than me, plus has a natural instinct for direction).  I lead my Trinity Trail Runner group on a Starkey run twice a month, and I know some of the runners would love to see where they are going, instead of just relying on my giant arrows drawn in the sand.

Stinky Starkey Map:Starkeymap

That map is missing tons of great trails to explore and run on.  I’ve decided with the help of my trusty Belgian Malinois, Nikyo, to re-write the map. (Sean can help too, since I think he knows all the trails already 🙂 )  Even though I know the trails and have run most or all of them, he and I will re-run the routes, check them on satellite when we get home, and re-draw the map.  We’ve already started on this project, as I like to change up the directions just to mess with Nikyo and make sure he is listening to me (instead of him thinking he’s in charge)!  Along the way, we’ve been giving the routes some names, so it is easier (and more fun) to describe where we’ve been.  Here’s a photo from Thursday’s run:Starkeycrossing

This is Moccasin Crossing, which is a path just off of the main hiking trail.  Moccasin Crossing was named so, because a water moccasin was spotted there once :-O  This is also one of Nikyo’s favorite trails, because we usually see more wildlife on this path since it is not used much (probably because it is not on the Stinky Map).

I’m looking forward to this new adventure, and discovering and exploring more while running out on the trails. If you’d like to follow our progress, I will be posting updates on our map project!






What I’ve Learned From My Dog about Trail Running

I take my dog running with me on the trails a lot.  My reasons for taking him originally began because he is an energetic dog, and he needed the exercise and the outlet.  But lately he is becoming a better trail buddy (his breed, a Belgian Malinois,  did make Top Ten Dg Breeds for Trail Runners!) and I really enjoy exploring the trails with him.  I’ve even learned a few things from this young pup 🙂  Here’s the best advice I’ve taken from NiKYO, my one year old Belgian Malinois:

  • Pace doesn’t matter. Sometimes it is really fun to run fast, but sometimes slow it down and enjoy the movement of your body. Don’t waste time checking your watch.
  • If you get a chance to get outside and run, it is a GOOD DAY.
  • Mileage?  Just run, whatever you have time for, even 15 minutes outside running makes it a GOOD DAY.
  • Stick with your running partner.  If they are having a hard day, help pull them along.
  • New paths are fun! You never know what you might find around the corner.
  • Getting to see some wildlife on the trail is really, really, cool.
  • Always bring extra poo bags. Always.

He has a quite simple philosophy about trail running.  And I always know his answer if I ask him: “Do you want to go running??” 🙂

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Race Report: River N Rapids 10K

Suspension bridge

From the Endeavor Racing website: “Opened in 1938, Hillsborough River State Park is one of Florida’s first state parks; this original Civilian Conservation Corps park is divided by the swiftly flowing Hillsborough River with a set of Class II rapids. The River-N-Rapids 10K will have participants running along the high banks of the river above the rapids, through a variety of habitats, past some huge oak trees and over the historic CCC suspension bridge. The River-N-Rapids Fun Run will take participants approximately two miles on the parks Rapids Trail–scenic incentive to get your body moving! ”

The River N Rapids 10K was this past Saturday at Hillsborough River State Park.  A small group of us from the Trinity Trail Runners met to run this race for the first time! I had never been to this park before, so I did not know what to expect.  The race was well organized, and the course was well marked.  The post race breakfast was a nice bonus too 🙂  River N Rapids group

Our Trinity Trail Runner group lined up together, then Sean and I teamed up as the race got started.  It started down the main park road for about 1/4 mile, which was a good way to thin out the starting pack before hitting the trails.  Then the route took a few turns to get onto the main trail, the first loop was routed on the Florida Trail.  Here the path was mostly single track, under a thick oak canopy that had lots of roots and terrain changes.  This was a fun path!  We settled in behind a line of runners and enjoyed the first part of this race.  The path looped along the river on high banks, and due to some recent rains, we had several large patches of squelchy mud.  Sean and I were prepared for this, because we had seen the photo that the race director had posted on the facebook page the day before: river n rapids mudWe had a pretty good time tearing through that mud in our Vibrams!  After getting through most of the muddy sections, the trail came back to the start of the Florida Trail and connected to the next loop on the Baynard Trail.  At this point we were more than halfway through, had settled into a good pace, and cruised the next mile on this easier section of trail.  The scenery was great, overlooking the Hillsborough River, winding through the oaks, and crossing over a few boardwalks.  We finally came around to the star of the trail, the CCC Suspension Bridge, constructed in the 1930’s and A LOT of fun to run across!  Once over the bridge, we had a little over a mile left, and a bit left in our tanks too, so we picked up the pace to make our way to the finish.  We crossed the finish in 54:49 which put us in the top 20 finishers! (I also received an additional award for 1st in my age group!)

We found the rest of our group from the Trinity Trail Runners, and all of us agreed that it was a really fun race and a beautiful course.  I would definitely run this race again, it was well done and the route consisted of some really fun trail running!