Saturday was the annual Veteran’s Weekend Poker Run, also known as “Marker Madness”. While most poker runs are done on motorcycles–ours was entirely human-powered–a trail running poker run.
Weather was on our side, with morning temps in the 50’s, a rarity for a Midwest November. After receiving our first cards and maps, we set off into the woods orienteering-style.
This park doesn’t see a lot of visitors, downed trees criss-crossed the trail and a thick blanket of leaves covering roots and rocks made the experience a bit rustic and wild.
Combined with dense vegetation and overgrowth, the trail was very narrow and hard to follow in some areas.
The goal was to follow a very basic map and locate the checkpoints. Checkpoints consisted of one of the following:
If you found a marker, you used it to color the location on your map to prove you found it.
Here I am at one of the checkpoints. The marker was dangling in the rafters of a small shelter which meant that I had to climb up on the bench to reach it.
My map began to look a little more colorful after finding a series of checkpoints.
Some of the checkpoints didn’t have markers, but instead plastic Halloween pumpkins filled with playing cards. These were few and far between, but if you were lucky to find one, you’d (blindly) draw a card from it to build your poker hand.
After running around the woods coloring and collecting cards we headed back to the shelter to turn in our poker hands.
We were greeted with a warm fire.
And a fantastic spread of post-run food.
Like this delectable Apple, Butternut Squash, and Bacon Breakfast Hash made by The Girl with the Green Soup Pot. We brought a thermos full of spicy sausage gravy and biscuits, while others brought fruit, muffins, and more. Runners sure know how to eat!
An aerial detail view from my Garmin data. Much of the run was along the narrow river that separates the park into north and south. Most of the route was flat, but there were a few steep climbs up the bluff to keep things interesting.
This was a fun way to get some exercise, use problem-solving skills, and enjoy the company of friends on a dreary late autumn day.
It is good to be a part of this pack, this crazy pack of trail running souls.