It’s mud season and we felt the need to address an issue that has been on our mind for a few years now in regards to our spring race. The Filthy Formal, formerly Mess The Dress is sold to you as a mud fest. We run through the swamps at Black Creek Park and we get completely, head to toe, covered in mud. The trails are usually a mess – and look like this
At the same time, as an organization we preach “responsible trail use”. How is this possible given our spring race? How can we possibly address these issues?Does this make us hypocrites?
In a word yes. However, let us explain why we are OK doing what we do.
- The trail matters. Black Creek Park never drys out in some places – The mud pit you run through in the middle is just that, a mud pit and it stays that way year round. It is not a trail and is not designed to be a trail. It is a cut through. There is a floating bridge that connects two drier areas over swamp land. The pit leads up to the bridge on both sides.We are already planning to evaluate and restore any damage we may have caused.
- We built sustainable trails to use for the race to stay off of sections of the park that would become damaged due to a race.
- The underwater sections are wide, flat, road sized grass paths. They are not damaged during the race and never show signs we were there. Again we will evaluate and adapt as needed.
- We remain vigilant the rest of the year, even moving some group runs (as we did in the past few weeks) to roads.
- We are committed to always, immediately fixing any issues created from our race.
In Black Creek alone, led by our Trail Stewardship Coordinator Dave Storie,over 48 hours of trail work was completed leading up to this years race. Post race we will match those numbers, stamping out ruts, leveling out pitches and leaving the park in BETTER condition than we found it.
This is a process we wish every race organization in our area would embrace. As an organization that builds and fixes damaged trails, we know the impact races and large groups have. We did not host any preview runs the past 2 years realizing our footprint on race day would be more than enough.
At our heart, deep down, we know the message sent by the FF10K is not one of complete respect for the trails. We ask and we would hope you see the work we do, the park we chose, and the reasons for what we do as true.
With that said – A reminder as we navigate this tricky time of year for our trails.
- Never go around puddles/mud. This turns single track in to double track and has a long standing often unfixable environmental impact on the trail.
- Choose wisely – If the trail is a mess, head elsewhere.
- Get involved. We host 1 trail work day per month and many other unofficial work days. Get involved with us!
- Encourage others to follow the “through not around” mud policy and talk to other races and groups about putting time in on the trails that they run and race on. We all benefit when we take the lead like this.
At the end of the day, we know as an organization we are committed to the health and sustainability to our local trail systems even if Filthy Formal doesn’t pass the eye-ball test. Need proof? Come on out for one of our trail work days and let us show you.
Until then, stay dry and run on!
The #TrailsRoc crew