Why in the world would anybody do this to themselves?
Good question. We still ask ourselves that question from time to time. Very few of the people behind this event are “serious” athletes. So why stumble over 13'ish miles through the woods? The sort answer: Because it’s awesome.
But more specifically:
1. It’s a great way to get/stay in shape. Even if you walk rather than run, the hills are a real challenge. One of the directors lost 30 pounds and about half his cholesterol just laying out the course last year. Hunting can be dangerous, but maybe not for the reasons you think. For the first time since the PGC began keeping records in 1915, there were no shooting-related deaths among hunters last year. On the other hand, hunters regularly succumb to heart attacks due to heavy exertion in cold weather. In short, cheeseburgers consumed in July are often far more dangerous to hunters than bullets fired in November.
Whether you hunt or not, running, walking and hiking throughout the year is a great way to stay in shape. Only the most highly conditioned athletes can run the whole course. The rest of us spend most of the summer getting in good enough shape to run part and walk the rest. Some walk the whole thing. So go ask your doctor before you try it. But try it.
2. It’s a great way to see the woods. There is more up there than you might imagine. The course runs past some of the East Coast’s coolest rock formations. Thus the name. I was born and raised about 100 yards from SGL 44, and I didn’t know most of them existed before we started Boulder Dash. It also serves as a walk through history. The woods around here constitute a managed forest. Not so long ago, the area looked like it had been mowed. The deer and the turkey and most of the other animals were long gone. But careful stewardship renewed the forest to what it is today. Old logging camps. Gas wells, old and new. Deer. Turkeys. Coyote. Bear. If you are quiet enough, you can see it all. And all of it is within walking distance of town. For you hunters, it’s a chance to scout some new areas. See some habitat you might have missed.
3. It’s a great community event. Come early and chat with the organizers. You’ll soon discover that it’s not all highly conditioned runners leaping across boulders like billy goats. We have some of those, but we poke fun at them. We also have hunters, we have naturalists, we have high school kids getting in shape for fall sports. It’s a new and different way for people of Elk County—and visitors—to reconnect with the woods and with the community. So as you stagger through the woods people you know and love can be shopping downtown, taking a look at Ridgway’s awesome architecture, or playing games and having fun.