It's an out-and-back on rocky, slow, difficult and demanding (but yet run-able) trail. Starting at the Tea Room in Gambrill State Park we run down the hill to the trail head for the Blue trail. Once we get on the Blue trail we follow it through Gambrill State Park, through the Frederick Watershed and into Cunningham State Park where we then turn around at the Manor Area of Cunningham State Park.
Local time: 4:55 AM
There are a couple of favorable points to this challenging yet entertaining run: (1) Shade. The course is almost entirely covered with luscious tree foliage. (2) Streams. there are several stream crossings where you can twinkle your toes in cool "beer commercial" type of mountain water and cool down. If we don't have a lot of rain and it's a hot summer the streams will wither up and dry and will tease you with the thought of what they once were. If rains hard during the race (2001) then the trail becomes a major water way and it's... hello, where did I put my goggles.
Since this is an out and back on an established trail and has been permanently blazed with light blue blazes on a fair number of trees. The trail will not be marked with the customary engineering ribbons or chalk. No trail maps or orienteering seminars will be conducted. Simply follow the runner in front of you. This should work as long as they don't get lost or take a wrong turn.
Once you reach the half way point its simply a matter of turning around and retracing your steps and facing the hill back up to Rick's overlook and on to the finish line. Getting lost is always possible but let's hope for the best. Sixty percent of the runners get off course at least once. This course will penalize any runner who runs "heads down". The Catoctin 50k trail run requires that you slow down/stop and look around at each intersection. If you think you know the way without looking around then we wish you good luck and hope your detour is minimal. If you have a habit of not following directions then please don't run. There's no search and rescue which means race management and volunteers have to cover the course and surrounding areas. This is a very unpleasant situation and makes us very "unhappy".
Course questions will be answered at the pre-race briefing. Unreasonable complaints, criticisms, and selfish attitudes will be ignored and race management and/or the appropriate volunteer will administer humility to the participant in question.