Have you ever wanted to design your own trail race? I have, but honestly, I do not have the Race Director expertise to put on such an event. Lucky for me, I got an opportunity to help out the race director of the Starkey Stomp Trail Race!
Starkey Wilderness Park is only a few miles from my home, so I run here often. There are miles and miles of trails, and I have run all kinds of combinations of them. I’ve always thought that it would be a great place to host a trail race. Endeavor Racing announced last year that they would host the Starkey Stomp trail race in Starkey Park. I am pretty sure I was the first one to sign up! I couldn’t wait to run a race at Starkey and have other runners see how great this park can be.
Kip from Endeavor Racing reached out to me and Sean recently, asking for help in routing the course. Starkey can be pretty sandy, and some trails are not maintained well. He was having some difficulties deciding on a route that avoided the sand and rough trails. Kip had a few parameters that he wanted for the race: A loop course that was approximately 6 miles (6.2 for the 10K, and 6.5 for the half marathon- to be run twice), avoid the sand as best as possible, start and finish at the horse corral area, and use mostly the hiking trails (but okay to jump onto other trails a little).
Design Your Own Trail Race
Sean and I got a chance to design our own trail race! Well, sort of. We at least came up with an option for the race. And since I am no race director, I do not know all the ins and outs of putting on a trail race. Endeavor Racing will have some other things to think about, plus getting approval from the park. So our route is only a suggestion of a proposed 10K and Half Marathon Race in Starkey Park. Feel free to try out our route for yourself! Maybe it will even end up being the official race course of the Starkey Stomp after all.
We wanted to give Kip some flexibility with his start and finish line, so we tracked our mileage about 1/10 of a mile down the hiking path at the horse corral. This measured a 5.9 mile loop for the 10k and a 12.38 mile loop for the half marathon. Adjusting the start and finish lines from the horse corral will complete the mileage for the 10K and half marathon.
North Side Hiking Trail to Moccasin Way
Start at the horse corral and head down the hiking path into the woods. Once you are under the trees, the trail splits to the left and right at an orange sign. This is where our mile markers start. Take the left branch onto the north side of the hiking trail. Continue on this trail past the campgrounds, and take a sharp right past the wooden fence. Continue on the hiking trail for .65 miles.
At .65 miles you will see a picnic bench to your right, and the trail reaches an intersection. (This is numbered 1 on my map below.) Continue straight on the hiking path (bearing left). Follow the hiking path another 1/4 mile (approx). You will reach another intersection at .93 miles with a small bench to the right. (Number 2 on map below.) Take the trail that continues east (bear slightly to the left again). This trail is called Moccasin Way (unofficially) because we once saw a water moccasin in the creek on this trail. The creek appears under 1/2 mile down the trail. It is small, and easy to hop over, but watch out for snakes! After the creek, take a sharp right turn at the next intersection to head onto Deer Crossing.
Deer Crossing back to the Hiking Trails
The trails of Deer crossing can be a little sandy. It is nearly impossible to avoid all the sand at Starkey, but on this stretch of trail the sand does not last long. At 1.9 miles Deer Crossing will dead-end into the south side of the hiking trail. (Number 3 on map below.) Take a left to continue onto the hiking trail. Right away, the hiking trail splits again, and you will bear left to take the north side of the hiking trail. The trail will lead you across the power line area and back into a shady oak canopy. At 2.62 miles the mountain bike trail will cross over the hiking trail. Turn right to take the mountain bike trail. The mountain bike trail has a blue sign, this is section 29. (Number 4 on map below.)
The Mountain Bike Trails
Section 29 of the mountain bike trail is very short (less than 1/4 mile), and will come out onto a fire road. Turn right on the fire road heading south. Follow the fire road for a short distance until the mountain bike trail crosses over it. You will hop onto the mountain bike trails again, turning right. This section of the mountain bike trail is section 34, however the sign is posted on the left side of the fire road, so you will only see the back of the sign. Follow this section of the mountain bike trail. At 3.34 miles you will come out onto the south side of the hiking trail. (Number 5 on map below.)
From here, the 10K course will turn right and continue on the hiking trail heading west. The half marathoners will cut across the hiking trail to take section 35 of the mountain bike trail. Continue on this section of the mountain bike trail (about 1/3 mile) until it ends at the dirt road at the power line area. Take a right on the dirt road and follow it until it intersects the hiking trail. Turn left on the hiking trail to join back into the main loop. (Take this extra branch on both loops of the half marathon route).
Hiking Trails to the Finish
Back on the hiking trail, you will follow the trail straight for about a mile (passing Deer Crossing on your way – number 6 on map below). At mile 4.32 miles (or 4.61 for half marathon route) you will be at a sandy four way intersection. (Number 7 on map below.) Take the right turn, heading north. This north connector takes you back to the north side of the hiking trail that we started on. Turn left at the bench (passing Moccasin Way), and continue west on the trail.
Once you reach the picnic table at 4.74 miles (or 5.03 for half marathon route), turn left. (Number 8 on map below.) This part of the trail is labeled as the 1.9 mile loop. Follow this branch until it dead ends at the south side of the hiking trail. Take a right onto the south side of the hiking trail and follow the trail all the way to the beginning of the route. For the 10K route, go straight to finish at the horse corral, and for the half marathon route, turn right to run another loop.
Where Will You Go?
If you had the opportunity to design a trail race, where would it be? Do you have local trails that you run on that would make a great trail race? I had a lot of fun designing this route. I look forward to running the Starkey Stomp and finding out if my route made the cut!