Tecumseh Trail Challenge
Paul Greci – 21 October 2023
The Tecumseh Trail Challenge lives up to its name and then some. The event takes place in late October in the hills and steep-sided, forested hollows of Southern Indiana. You can choose from an 8.7 mile fun run, half-marathon, marathon or fifty K.
Just coming off an Equinox Marathon finish, I figured I could recover, do a little running, taper, and be good to go for the Tecumseh Marathon a month a later.
The course starts on a dirt road at Yellowwood Lake (about ten miles east of the small city of Bloomington) and quickly cuts up a hill on a moderately root-infested, single-track trail, partly covered in leaves. And then the route pretty much stays single-track in the forest, with a few short breaks onto roads and through meadows, for the next 25.5 miles. If you’re looking for a true trail marathon, this fits the bill.
In terms of cumulative elevation gain, the Tecumseh course is little less than the Equinox Marathon, but it happens continually with many ups and many downs, instead of one big up and one big down. For me, it was a much more laborious course than the Equinox, my time being about 50 minutes slower than my Equinox Marathon time a month ago. The narrow trails required constant attention to keep from turning an ankle or doing a face plant.
Shortly after the race, I texted my Fairbanks running group and wrote that it was a brutally fun run. I stumbled a few times but stayed upright on the relentless ups, downs, twists, and turns and crossed the finish line at 5 hours and 52 minutes. Unlike the Equinox, some of the biggest hills come between mile 22 and the finish. Not that the hills on the first 21 miles were small. Many were those steep, I-may-as-well-walk-up-type-of-hills because I’m not going to climb them any faster by running.
The race is expertly organized with friendly people at six well-supplied aid stations. The finish was festive with kegs of beer, homemade soup, quesadillas, and other treats. Age group and overall Awards were handed out as you crossed the finish line.
Luckily for me, I actually like hills, so although I was exhausted by the time I finished and considered it the hardest course I’d ever run, I was happy. I’m already thinking about how I might run it differently were I to toe the Tecumseh Trail Line again next year.
Paul Greci is a local writer, runner, and teacher. One of his Alaska Adventure Novels, Hostile Territory, has a runner as the main character.
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