Cross Country like it ought to be

(republished from old website)
New York * New Jersey * Connecticut Runner • June 1987
The Leatherman’s Loop • By Chris Barlow

Cross Country like it ought to be.

No question about it, there was no mistaking the initial running of the Leatherman’s Loop held April 26, 1987 in Pound Ridge, NY for your run of the mill weekend road race.

With sections on the 10 kilometer course laid out through the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation aptly named, The Narrows, The Pit, and The Wall, with a couple of stream crossings, some marshes and a run across a log thrown in, the race wasn’t for the faint hearted, only for those seeking a change of pace and a good time – which, judging from the comments of the participants, was had by most all who ran.

No one was spared in this one, even the race winner, Joe Stanley from the Waterbury area.

Saving the best for last, the race course crossed a cold, deep running stream over the last few hundred yards.  The stream, anywhere from knee to thigh deep, claimed Stanley as its first victim when, far ahead he tried to be a little too aggressive and nearly wound up face first in the water.  But, none the worse for wear, Stanley managed to regain his composure, albeit a little wetter than he probably had originally planned, and make it in to the finish in 38:17, ahead of second place finisher and co-race director Dave Cope’s 40:31.

For the women, Darien high schooler Cindy Davis outdistanced (outsplashed?) her competition to win in 45:49, 18th overall.  Runner up Liz Cope was clocked in 48:18, and might have finished a little faster had she not lost her shoes crossing the stream.  But then, that’s what the race was all about.  The mere fact that someone loses their shoes doesn’t mean all that much; it’s all part of the fun.

While the final stream crossing may have been considered the piece de resistance (or coup de gras depending on how you look at it), this is not to take away from any other part of the imaginative layout done by the Leatherman Harriers, who organized the event.

Right from the start, runners were treated (thanks to the rains the week prior to the run) to a mere puddle toe deep, in the first quarter mile or so.  While some opted to walk gingerly around it (only to find out there was no escaping the water later on), most made like it wasn’t even there and splashed their way through.

While the assorted water hazards were very much a part of the course, rain or not, Cope said after there were worries that the water wouldn’t subside enough, as much of the trails were submerged just two weeks before the run.

Given comments and enthusiasm of some of the runners as they came out of the stream, it probably wouldn’t have mattered much anyway.  Instead it could have just been advertised as a cross country biathlon with swimming a part of it as well.

As one runner after another splashed his or her way through the course, such remarks as the “Water’s not cold enough” (it was), or “I think I’ll do it again,” to simply, “This goes on my list every year,” attested to the popularity this first time undertaking had with its participants.

Even as the last of the 98 finishers crossed the line, organizers were talking of wanting to double the field next year.  And with another whole year to plan, who knows what else they might come up with.  We can’t wait.