Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sylamore Test Run

Scott and I decided to make the trip up to Sylamore to try out the trail in advance of the Sylamore 50K in February.  Scott arrived at my house at 5am and we headed to the trail.  We stopped briefly for fuel in Drasco and for a little bite of food and a bathroom break in Mountain View and arrived at Anglers White River resort at 7am.  We gathered our food, put on our Garmins, and started the same spot that the race will start on.  We planned to run from Anglers to Blanchard Springs on to Gunner Pool and then turn around.  The race will continue on to Barkshed before turning around. 
We started off up the pavement and then turning on to the dirt road that would lead to the single track trail head.  It started to rain on us and rained on and off all day.  It’s easy during the first mile on race day to go faster than you should because the terrain is so easy and all the other runners are going faster, so you’ll want to be aware of that.  On the flip side if you go to slow you’ll find yourself deep in traffic at the creek crossing and the half mile past the creek and could cost you some time.  I lost five minutes here last year and missed my race goal time by two minutes.

The creek crossing was calf deep in places.  Be wary of expecting larger rocks to be good foot holds, they tend to be slicker, try and stick to walking on the gravel.  Last year I saw a couple of people run with extra socks and shoes.  I don’t advise it as the entire section to Blanchard Springs has small several creek crossings and is overall a fairly muddy section, you might could stay dry, but it would take a lot of effort.  So, even if you change shoes after the creek your second pair of shoes will get pretty wet.  If this is your first Sylamore 50K you may be thinking this trial is fairly technical, no worries, after Blanchard Springs it smoothes out real nice.  On this section after a small creek crossing we could hear a waterfall just below, we took a short hike down (40 feet) and found a campsite with a view of the waterfall.  We held a nice steady 15:00 average pace until Blanchard Springs.  

Scott at the first campground we noticed.
At Blanchard we stopped and topped off our water bottles at the rest room as the water has been turned off for the winter at Gunner Pool.  This is where the first aid station will be.  The trail coming out of Blanchard is the steepest of any section on this race route.  We hiked up it before resuming running after the top.  We descended toward Gunner Pool pretty quickly.  You’ll pass a memorial to Arkansas State Trooper Jimmie White shortly before a campsite.  It was during this section that we encountered all of the people we would see during the run.  On the way out we bumped into a hunter and a game warden chatting beside a campfire.  Shortly after them we came upon a group of about six packing up camp and having breakfast.  Once past them we came upon a group of about seven hikers headed to Barkshed.  The run after this will take you down next to the creek, literally on top of the creek.  It’s easy to tell where to go on the way out, it can be a little confusing on the way back, just remember on the way back to run toward the creek.  I checked and there was a clear blue blaze on a tree this year, I don’t remember it being there last year, so you shouldn’t have any problem.
At Gunner Pool we stopped so I could use the restroom.  I’d been battling a stomach virus the night before and it wasn’t treating me well on the run.  Scott did a little sightseeing and snapped a picture of Gunner Pool.  What we call Gunner Pool was apparently Camp Hedges, check out the writing on the sign in the picture below.

Waterfall at Gunner Pool built by CCC.

Kevin at Gunner Pool (Camp Hedges)
After turning around and heading back we both felt pretty good, thankful for the pit toilet.  During this section we stopped and snapped a picture of me next to a tree cut down by a beaver, that’s the Little Sylamore Creek in the background.  We would encounter all the same people as earlier but also we passed and stopped and chatted with Nancy Kirk.  She’s the sister of Steve Kirk who puts on the 3 Days of Sylamo in March.  Scott and I are currently training to run just the second day, the 50 mile trail leg.  We descended into Blanchard and topped off the bottles and headed on to the end.  At Blanchard you get to cross the nice bridge in the picture below.

Kevin next to the Little Sylamore Creek
Scott running the bridge at Blanchard Springs

The section from Blanchard to the end saw Scott’s feet really start to hurt.  They have started to bother him since taking up trail running.  He’s still seeking a solution to the problem, but basically he has pressure points on the balls of his feet that cause pain after long trail runs.  He had blood blisters after Athens Big Fork Trail Marathon earlier this year.  We slowed the pace and brought the training run to a close.  With Scott’s feet and my stomach bug we still had a pretty good day.  Looking forward to Sylamore 50K in two weeks.

Scott crossing the Little Sylamore Creek, ahhh, feels good on the feet.


  1. Nice to find your blog. I'm running Sylamore 50k for the second time this year. I'll have a Blaze orange shirt on and will be running slow. Say hey to me as you run by!

    Well written, Less than 1 week to go!


    Kevin King

  2. Hey Kevin,

    Thanks for the comment. Hopefully we will get to meet you at the race. Are you running by yourself or are you coming with a group? Scott and I will be coming up together and have met a few others online that we know are coming as well.



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