Virtual ThomB?

Up on Hammond Hill yesterday, doing some of the ThomB course (plus some bushwacking and off-trail as usual) I encountered three other trail runners (plus two groups of walkers) and it occurred to me that probably we won’t be able to have an actual ThomB this year – my favourite race and a tribute to a friend (not many of us still around who knew and ran with Thom Bugliosi). So in the spirit of Virtual Skunk maybe we could hold a Virtual ThomB? We would not all meet at the starting line on May 13! We would each run the Thom B at a time/date of our choosing… and if we encountered another runner doing the same (or, just out for a run) we’d keep a good social distance – do NOT pass close by, one runner steps completely off the trail.

This way we would (1) continue the tribute to Thom B, (2) get out on the Hammond Hill trails. Thoughts?

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Hey Dumptruck! I was thinking about this while out there on Saturday (Hi Emily! @ef347), and am running this idea by the DEC to make sure it’s on the up-and-up before making this (un-)official. Yes indeed, with the ban on outdoor group activities, we’ll have to be creative, but I will send an update and de-trails as soon as I get a go-ahead.

(My hope is to get some signs made and trail set by this weekend, if all goes according to plan…)

~Mr. Hector

Mr Hector – I knew you would be in favour – my idea was to not even mark the trails beyond the existing DEC/FLT markings. Just put a map on-line. So it’s just an individual run, no FLRC involvement other than collecting the virtual results. We could put a register at the start/finish and let people write their experiences/trash talk/times/encouragement etc. for others to read.

We could start the virtual competition any time, like NOW, through May 13 or even later. And post the results as they come in, to encourage more action.

BTW yesterday I tried both variants of the FLT or Y4 to get from the 2nd water stop over to Star Stanton Rd. The FLT is still horribly rooty and muddy, Y4 is much easier going although it has its own share of mud. I suggest keeping the Y4 variant (even though the Trail Monster grabbed me last year causing some serious knee contusions… all good now) to avoid damage to the FLT – as if more damage could be done to what is already a wrecked section (not our fault).

Absolutely agreed on the re-route – I ran the Y4 section and found it not-too-bad, and think we’ll keep that for the foreseeable future. Also good idea on the register, for them’s what are so-inclined. I would like to mark trail, if for no other reason but to help unfamiliar folks get better-acquainted with the course – it took me more than a year to understand how all the trail fit together. We’ll see what happens… until then, stay healthy and happy!

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I haven’t been out on Hammond Hill since the winter, when @hubitron and I skied what’s roughly the Thom B. course backwards (clockwise). There was a point (in that direction) just after coming down from the microwave tower, where it looked there had been major logging, and we got confused about where the trail was at first. I’m thinking that it’s not likely to be as confusing in the correct counter-clockwise direction, but just sharing since it threw us for a bit.

I don’t mean to spoil the fun, but I think we need to be careful with the idea of a virtual run. Tompkins County Health Department has closed all recreation parks (swings, playgrounds, etc.) and are cautioning trail use. As with any trail runner, I know how fun it is to get out there, but we need to abide by the Health Departments guidelines - see attached:

Good point Steve but – already people are out on those trails. Plenty of real estate out on Hammond Hill, easy to keep distance. The only thing is to step well off the trail when passing/being passed, don’t blow by (or be blown by) other runners huffing and puffing and spewing whatever is in our lungs. No equipment so not like a playground. The DEC is saying we can go out and exercise on our own while keeping distance. Our sanity is in play here! and we are fortunate to have these resources. I would not propose a run in crowded area like Stewart Park.

I guess my point is that if the Health Department discovers that people are organizing runs or hikes or other activities on the trails - regardless if we’re abiding by the distancing rules - the Health Department, DEC, or other government offices could easily close down the trails for all users. This would spoil the fun for everyone who wants to use the trails. This has happened in much of California (most of the state), Seattle, and a variety of other places. I just suggest we be careful - not only in our distancing, but also promoting activities that would spoil the use of trails going forward.

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To be clear, what’s being proposed here is not an official FLRC event, just an individual thing on @Mr_Hector’s part. He’s also planning to contact the DEC very soon to see what their opinion is, since they would seem to be the final arbiter of what’s acceptable on those trails.

I’ve submitted a revised TRP application for this – and also note that the DEC has put out their own Social Distancing & general public health guidelines for trail users @ HH trailheads… so far this does not seem to contravene what’s already out there.

We could arrange it with a sign-up sheet by dates/times to ensure that no two runners are out at the same time, say with 1/2 hour difference between any starts. Free-form list, where I see what everyone else has planned and I would sign up for a different date/time.

Plus I think I’d be somewhat free-form about where to start the course. Maybe at the Star Stanton/Canaan intersection? Or maybe park in the traditional lot, walk up to the Y1/finish trail intersection, start there downhill to the “start/finish” and then continue on the loop. After all it’s virtual, fun, and a tribute to Thom B and the Trail Gods.

It would be no different than the Corvid19 virtual race that FLRC is promoting. Go out on your own, run the course and submit your time. Do it over several days before/after the scheduled event. Not a real race, conditions may very, only a select few of us know the course accurately enough to run it without marks, but what the hey. It is better than a sharp stick in the eye!

It is different, in that it’s a specific route on narrow singletrack trails. I’m not advocating that we don’t go virtual here, only pointing out that those are the FLRC board’s concerns. As a club we need to take precautions not to get on the DEC’s or county’s bad side by causing the trails to be overcrowded and putting people at risk. You’re right that only a small number of people know the loop without flags and would go out to run it.

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And part of the fun would be getting semi-lost! It would be participate at your own risk and own responsibility. In the regular Thom B many runners just follow the person in front and rely on huge arrows… it’s a good exercise to be fully aware of the surroundings and trails and find one’s own way.

We’ve had a pretty good turnout with 16 folks having recorded times – results below – and folks can add their times here. Highlights include:
-former RD Melissa Hubisz taking the women’s “win” in the 13K
-Bob Swizdor and Gerrit Van Loon coming in 4 minutes apart as the two 42K runners
-Pete Kresock submitted times for both the 13K and 26K
-John Hohm taking down the pine tree across Y1 near the finish, then running a very solid 13K
-Eric Sambolec going under an hour for the 13K, later helping take down course markings

…some flags are still up, and will be taken down in the next couple of days.

Happy trails!

Results in Spreadsheet form