Tucker Hill – Croom Trails

This past weekend my husband and I trekked out to Brooksville, FL for a shady trail run. The temps here are in the 90s with a “feels like” of over 100 F. We figured a little shade was more than necessary if we were to get our miles in.

We’re both running a trail race from Tucker Hill in a couple of weeks called Moon Over Croom, another reason we chose this track. Since this race will occur at night, we wanted to run in the area to acclimate during the daylight hours.

I first discovered Croom when I decided to run an ultramarathon. I was training for my first marathon (Walt Disney World Marathon 2016) and figured I could continue training beyond that. The Croom Trail 50 Mile, 50K, & 16 Mile Fool Run was a blast. I say that, though it hurt a lot. That was only my second long run on a trail (my first being a half marathon several months before). Needless to say, trail running is MUCH different than road running/training. But, I was hooked, immediately.

On Sunday we ran a trail that was part of the Fools Run back in April. This picture shows the area that was a complete burn out during the race. This tract was literally smoldering as it was still on fire. Check out the incredible growth in only a few months.

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This is a frontal view of the track. Sunday we ran it opposite what I ran for the ultra (I did the 50K btw, but I’m totally eye-balling the 50 Mile for 2017). If you haven’t run here before and are in the Tampa Bay area it’s worth the drive. The trails are well marked, well trod upon, but relatively free of traffic.

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The park is also great because it welcomes all kinds of activity: hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian, all with their own marked trails. No need to be hyper aware of whether you’ll become a mountain bike obstacle! Plus, where the trails cross there are double blazes while most of the trail is single blaze. Like I said, well done and worth the trek.

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The peace sign is a beautiful addition to the trail. While I’m very much a “leave no trace” kind of trail runner I greatly appreciated this symbol during the miles upon miles I was putting down during the ultra. I spoke with a woman who regularly runs Croom events and she said it’s been here a long time. She told me she places a pinecone on it as a symbol of appreciation. I’ve taken up the habit now as well. I invite you to do the same next time you come across it.

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The funny thing about the few trail races I’ve done is that I’ve never wiped out. I fully expect to eat it during the night run. Sunday I tripped over a root. Fortunately it didn’t break the skin enough to bleed. Unfortunately, it did jar my gastrocnemius and carrying the sandy ground on my legs the final few miles resulted in chaffing. Fun! Now I have slight bruising and scratches, a tight right calf, and some monstrous chaffing to deal with, but I’m certain all will be well by race night.

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That day, the humidity was extreme. Be careful out there during the summer, the heat will sap your energy and can make you foggy. That’s not why I tripped, I must have been dragging my feet. Still, once you overheat it can get extremely dangerous.

Take lots of water, electrolyte replacement, and sunscreen. Stay in the shade whenever possible, and remember, walking or stopping to cool down is SMART. Do it as often as needed. Of course, have fun! Isn’t that what these adventures are all about?

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