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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Our Running with (or from) the Buffalo Adventure- The Practice Run

At last weeks training run, the subject of the Antelope Island Buffalo 25k came up. No one in the group had committed to doing it yet and with registration closing at the end of February, we knew we needed to get on it.

It is an awesome trail race (25k, 50k, 50 miler, 100 miler) on Antelope Island, a beautiful remote island about an hour outside of Salt Lake City and is the home to all kinds of wildlife, the most popular being herds of wild buffalo and antelope.

Last year, Teresa and I did the 25k and Bob B. and Bob K. did the 50k. This is a tough course, but we LOVED it, so the consensus was, LET'S DO IT AGAIN!

Now, if you read my blog post from last year's practice run, you will remember that Teresa and I got lost on the trail and almost ran into a heard of buffalo only to be rescued by a park ranger. While terrifying at the time, it made for a great adventure. Today's run was also quite the adventure.

Teresa, Bob B., Bob K., Skyler, Eric, Jamie, Kathleen and I headed to Antelope Island for another "test run" before the race next month. When we got to the ranger station to pay the fee to get in, Kathleen asked the ranger, "What do we do if we encounter Buffalo on the trail?" In the most nonchalant way the ranger answered, "Run like hell!" Nervous laughter filled the car.

The group on Antelope Island

It was a little cold & windy when we got there, but we quickly warmed up and the wind died down. The first few miles was the toughest as it is all up hill. It wasn't long before the guys split off from Teresa, Kathleen and I. The three of us watched them pull away up the hill and settled in to our pace (which at times was walking the killer hills).

It started to rain a little, but we didn't care. We were having a great time! Antelope Island is beautiful!

 Me on the trail

Kathleen on the trail

Teresa and I on the trail

We got about 4 1/2 miles into our run and we hit a pretty rocky part of the trail. I said "I think we are out of buffalo danger as I think they stay on the flat plains." The trail was pretty rocky, so we were all looking down to avoid tripping on the rocks. We were running on a single track trail, I was in front, followed by Teresa, then Kathleen. Just a few minutes later, we came around a bend on the trail and I just happened to look up. When I did I saw 6 huge buffalo about 100 yards away! If I hadn't looked up, I would have run right into the side of one of them! 

At that point I turned on a dime and quietly said "BUFFALO!" Teresa and Kathleen followed suit and we booked it back down the hill. Kathleen at one point said "Are the following us?", but luckily they weren't. Once we got far enough away, we laughed about it and were pretty thrilled at the fact that we would have another great story to tell the guys! 

The rest of the run could not be more beautiful. The weather was perfect! We were coming up on the fence where we parked when I saw a large brown spot moving near the trail. Yep, another buffalo! We immediately got off the trail and got close to the fence. Luckily by the time we got to the opening the buffalo had wandered off the trail and we made a run for it!

 The buffalo once we go behind the fence!

Teresa at a safe distance from the buffalo! Notice how close he is to the trail?

When the guys got back, we found out that they also ran into the 6 buffalo we saw (Bob B. got video)!

It was an awesome run followed by breakfast at Corner Bakery. Thanks to Kathleen for driving and to Teresa for taking these great photos! I can't wait for the race now! I think I will bring my pepper spray again! Hee Hee!


Outdoorpartner said...

You people are a hardy bunch of runners to be out this morning in the cold & wet! Great pics; I thought there would be more snow on the trail.

I did the Buffalo run 50 K last year and really enjoyed it. I'll be attempting the 50 mile this year.

Don't worry about the bison chasing you. If you approach them closely, they normally run away. The round up every year makes them afraid of humans. All the bison are put through squeeze chutes & then held still by a clamp on the nose. They associate that pain with humans. I've ridden my mtn bike through herds a handful of times with no problems. Sometimes they hang out at that bottom gate entrance and you have no choice but to go through the herd. I wouldn't advocate going up and petting them or anything, but the bison on Antelope Island aren't known for being aggressive.

Have fun training & hope to see you at the Buffalo Run! Valerie

Angie Whitworth Pace said...

AWWW! Poor buffalo!! That is awful! I don't want them to attack me, but I also don't want them to associate my presence with pain! Now I just want to go up to them and give them a hug!

Skyler Martinez said...

Great post Angie! Hope to see you again soon!