RUNNING COLUMN for the DAILY RECORD
on Sunday, August 20, 2017
RUN ON THE WILD SIDE
They say you can't go home again, but I sometimes think it is not true. I grew up on an island in Washington state and when I return, as I do every year, I feel like I am home again. In my youth I was not a runner. Occasionally I would slip off the back of my horse and run along side her on the hidden logging road in the woods not far from my home.
Every year I make sure to run on that old logging road at least once, in memory of Candy, the lovely palomino who loved to race, to swim in a farm pond, and to patiently trot along side me when I got the urge to run.
The trail has changed since Candy and I were the rare riders of the trail. The old road has been partially paved to accommodate the scattered homes in the woods now. The pavement ends at a sharp 180 degree turn where a sign warns ominously, "No Turnaround Beyond this Point."
What is a fun old road to run or ride on is a "no-go" for cars, with serious potholes and extreme dips and climbs. On that stretch it is easy to get lost in the stillness of the woods and to feel blissfully alone. I came out of my reverie when I remembered that the cougar that had been feeding on the livestock on the small farms on the island, and not the numerous deer also inhabiting it, could actually be lurking in those very woods.
When I emerged from the woods and back onto the paved road that would lead me home, it was with a little sigh of relief that I had not met up with the animal, also known as mountain lion, or catamount. I learned later that the cougar had killed two donkeys in the same area as my run that day.
A trap was set and the animal was lured with one of the donkey carcasses and it was killed, deemed too much of a danger for the island livestock. I can breathe easy when I next go on that run although sad that the cougar had not stayed with a deer menu and kept away from sheep, goats and donkeys.
Natirar Park in Somerset has never reported sightings of cougars, mountain lions, or catamounts. More likely it will see runners racing on the cross country course that winds around and through the park. On Sunday, August 27th, the runners will be onUSATF teams in the state 5K cross country championship.
The Natirar course features an easy flat run interspersed with two extreme hills that some love and others hate. Young runners charge up those hills and fly down like a herd of deer running from, well, cougars, I suppose. The race will start at a cool 8:45 a.m.