The Chilly Chili Trail Run


Runners begin to gather for instructions ahead of the Chilly Chili Trail Run at Ouabache State Park.

When I did this run two years ago, I gingerly crept along the icy trail at the back of the pack and finished the back half of this 5.5-mile route without seeing a single other runner, other than a friend I’d bumped into and joined forces with.

What a difference two years can make. This $5 fun run has grown in numbers, the weather was perfect (temps in the sunny 30s with ankle-deep snow), and I attacked the course, gleefully plowing through the snow in my duct tape-protected screw shoes.

It was exhilarating to pass runner after runner, as many of those less familiar with the course pooped out from the effort of churning through snow. On my own, or even running with my sister, I would’ve gone much slower with that kind of snow cover. But I was determined to feed off the energy of “running with the herd” and get in the best possible workout on what is, after all, my home-court trail at Ouabache State Park.


Duct tape kept my feet nice and dry the entire race, despite the fact the snow out on the course was over our ankles.

This time, though the crowd thinned out on the back half – runners can opt for a shortcut that turns this into a 3-mile run – I made sure I always stayed within visual distance of someone, no matter how tough it was. Eventually, I passed every single runner I drew a bead on – only to tire at the end and get caught again by a few of them.

That was OK. This wasn’t a chip-timed race, I was happy with my time – under 11 minutes a mile is pretty decent for me, considering the snow – and a trio of younger women who finished with me were geeking out over my duct-tape shoes. (Under ordinary conditions, there’s no way I could’ve kept up with those three, much less passed them.)

Oh yeah, and the chili served up in the campground pavilion afterward was good, too. This is an awesome event. It’s great to see how it’s grown over the last couple of years.

And it’s awesome to see how much my footwork on the trails has improved as well.


Up ahead, a guy I’d passed on the back half begins to pull away as I wear out at the end. I was happy with my time, though, and it was cool to finish with runners who, under normal circumstances, are way better than I am.


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