We all get a good chuckle at the antics of the self appointed protectors of the Adirondack Wilderness and I must admit I've had some laughs at their expense. It's just a handful of extremists who make enough noise to muck up the works. This year they were again unsuccessful in doing, well anything at all. The Great Adirondack Trail Run held a very successful event and despite a delay in processing our permit, we too carried on with our business. But that hasn't stopped them from expanding their attacks from trail runs to other "competitive" events in the Park. Snow shoeing & canoeing have now been added to the list of evil deeds.
While I may disapprove of what they say, I would defend to their death their right to say it. Besides, without the antics of these court jesters what in hell would I do for laughs? But I will say this, the notion that a tiny minority might someday succeed at stripping away our right to assemble on these public lands seems darn right un-American. Yes, I'm going to do it - I'm going to play the Patriotism Card!
On July 22nd, 2006 forty-eight proud Americans, one Canadian and one Brit, exercised their right to run free across this great land we call the Adirondack Park Wilderness. The week leading up to this year's assembly was hot and buggy. I worried that we might see some serious dehydration issues or worse. The morning was unusually warm and the typical fog over the Wakely Dam was no where to be seen - it was balmy.
Since the Fall of last year I've been struggling with an injury and was unable to put in the necessary training to run the 32.6 miles to the dam. So for the first time in 6 years, I would be a mere Run Director - nothing to do all day but toil over the details of managing the day's activities. But I looked forward to the celebration of this honorable moment in time. I had high hopes of hordes of flag waving citizens cheering on the patriots as they marched across the dam.
After my usual speech about safety and trial etiquette I was obligated by the state to advise our runners that to assemble in groups of over 15 would be forbidden. Though protected by the First Amendment while on American soil, upon entering the sacred wilderness area some 7 miles into our run, these rights would be revoked. God save our souls.
On the trip back to Wakely Dam a few sprinkles started to fall, then a few more. Surely it will not rain on this day? Not in 5 years has it rained on Wakely - but rain it did.... and then it poured. For 12 hours the skies unleashed its mighty load. While waiting in our confined quarters for the first of the day's runners to appear I began wishing I was out there, with them. Fighting for what I believe in. This would be no run in the park, this would be a epic battle against mother nature and the forces that would keep us from her. I had no doubt that our brave runners were having the time of their lives.
Like Paul Revere here comes Pat Hamel in the distance just seconds away from a new best time. Against all odds Pat would cross the dam in 5:05:00 - a new course record. A marvelous victory! With the rains still pounding the runners would march in one by one. First woman, Kerry Arsenault would also log a great time nearly besting the woman's record. What these rains brought were a break from the heat and bugs - this is a good thing. And in time, even our lost souls Chester and Diane Jozefski, made it in with plenty of daylight to spare - albeit without sun.
Neither rain nor mud or the threat of man will prevent these runners from their appointed rounds. Thanks to the runners and our Professional Crew it was a great day and we'll look forward to another one next year. Mark your calendars for the 21st of July! (sun is in the forecast)