Ten years ago I started running each section of the Northville Placid Trail. I was a novice at ultra distances having only run a few marathons. On my 40th birthday I decided I'd run 40 miles. I did it on water alone. Who knew there was such a science to running for 7 hours? So as my NPT runs got longer I usually suffered the consequences.
I ran most of the sections alone - usually out and back. But the section between Piseco and Wakely Dam presented a problem. I had never run much over 30 miles in my out and back solo endeavors, so how could I make an out and back out of this "Wakely" section? I decided I would put up a little website to attract other runners to share the burden of shuttling cars from start to finish. Given my propensity to over do things, especially when it comes to multimedia, I created a site, which for the time looked pretty legit. Nine suckers took the bate, and The Damn Wakely Dam Ultra was born. What the heck, it was free.
Spandex was still acceptable back then, or at least a couple of us thought so. We had a shirt for the crew and I made some nifty awards for the finishers - just like a real race. Five of the original runners would return the following year and now that we were a "real" event, so did 34 other people who fell for my flashy website with its awesome maps and stuff. I still didn't have the heart to actually make people pay for this farce, so when car pooling got too complicated, we hired a bus. We had T-shirts too, but they were optional and advertised as the ugliest race shirts in the history of organized sports. This is when the Mountain Baby made his debut at Wakely - and he never left.
North Country Public Radio stopped by and did a story and so did the Adirondack Explorer and some other publications. Over the years we made the news and a few of the running magazines. I tried my best to lampoon every runner using every Photoshop trick I knew... but they kept coming back. The bus became a permanent part of the event - insurance, USATF Certificate and Insurance also seemed like smart things to buy. My family and friends began planning their summer campouts around Wakely and made a fine crew even though they've never spent any time at running events. I guess runners are easy to please if you just give them something to drink and talk to them real slow.
Then the Mountaineer started their own race in the High Peaks region and suddenly running in the wilderness was under attack! For the most part, the extremists were just good fodder for my lampooning. I even made up fake races in the high peaks to get their goat - motocross up a Jay Mountain anyone?
But eventually, the calls at home and the constant negative press got mean spirited. The craziness culminated in 2005 when a mentally disturbed man emerged from the woods behind our camp and attacked one of our runners with a stick. Coincidently, this guy lives near my home and I happened upon him once during a run. He's not too happy that when you Google his name, his Wakely mug shot is the first option.
There are still a few negative reports on organized events in the wilderness but the noise as pretty much waned. Throughout all this nonsense, the DEC has supported our use of the public lands and never flinched in the face of controversy. Who says government doesn't work?
Nothing to see down here.
What part about "nothing" didn't you understand?