Saturday, May 15, 2010


I posted this to the Ultra List some 13 years ago, on May 15, 1997. I vividly remember this run as though it were yesterday.  Photo credit Wikipedia.

For those of you with a biological bent, I noted an interesting phenomenon today while on an early AM run. I was running on South Mountain, just south of the PA-MD border, along the road leading to High Rock (hang gliding site). To orient those of you who are semi-familiar with the area, this would be along the same ridge approx 20 miles north of the Appalachian Trail portion of the JFK 50-Miler.

Anyway, I began a typical run at daybreak from Fort Ritchie, MD where I work, at 1300' elevation. As I ran steadily uphill, I found that between about 1500' and 1800' elevation, the road was littered with live and smashed millipedes (the pencil-thick dark brown critters approx 4" long, with beaucoups legs, they curl up when disturbed). I couldn't run more than 5 steps without passing one. What was strange was as I continued the uphill run beyond High Rock at 1800', they disappeared and stayed absent all the way up to the very top of the ridge at the communications towers at 2100' elevation. The character of the oak-chestnut oak forest remained the same throughout.

Millipedes--virtually insignificant in the big scheme of things. But today, for awhile at least, they were the most important things in the world. Funny how ultra training provides these little gems in an otherwise routine day. Today it was millipedes, tomorrow I have no doubt that I will see, I mean really see, something else familiar for the first time. (By the way, although by profession I am a civilian telecommunications specialist for the U.S. Govt., my first love is Biology, in which I have a MS I never have professionally used. Comes in handy while running, though).

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