Tag Archive | "Blackburn Fork"


After the Flood

Running on what remained of Blackburn Fork Road

Josh wanted sixteen, and I had fourteen. That is, he wanted to go for a sixteen mile run, and I had a fourteen mile loop. My fourteen-mile loop went into Jackson County, a rural place where the dogs run free; and past Cummins Falls where the water runs wild.
The water of Blackburn Fork jumps off the falls and meanders down a narrow valley for ten miles before it joins Roaring River. You might call the valley a gorge; it is pretty narrow at the bottom and bounded by steep wooded slopes with some bluff outcroppings. A road surfaced with creek gravel, paved in places, follows the stream on its journey.
But I didn’t even mean to go there, down the gorge, I mean. The fourteen mile loop stayed above the valley. It merely went past the falls, staying on top. But, see, Josh wanted sixteen miles that morning.
The weather was hot, August hot. One bottle in a waist pack is not enough for such heat. The well-equipped ultra runner made preparations. I dug out the backpack I use for journey runs and such. It’s a tiny thing probably designed for the shorter torso of a woman. But it is just right. It is short enough to leave room for my regular waist pack below it. So I can go with both the waist pack for my bottle and still have a bit of cargo room in the little backpack.

Read the full story by Dallas Smith by clicking HERE

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Cummins Falls Marathon – Astonishing!

Andrew Holbrook, 35, of Roanoke, VA runs to a third-place finish

Despite my urging Josh Hite didn’t decide to run the inaugural Cummins Falls Marathon until late the day before the race. Then he sent me a text:

“Chances are that I will run a marathon tomorrow.”

And so he did.
Good thing, too—he won, finishing in a time of 3:13:56. That’s not likely a time that will impress anyone who was not there. The course is challenging, bringing an insane climb at mile 17, and Josh had been undecided because of a recent bout with the flu followed by an injury from a fall on an icy patch. The injury healed just in time.
A gray sky, 40 degrees, and calm winds greeted the 197 runners assembled at Cummins Falls on Saturday, February 23. Runners spread across four races held that morning—a marathon, half marathon, 10K, and 5K. Twenty eight had registered for the marathon. They knew what they faced. The course map and profile had been posted on the race’s Facebook page. [*See it here*]

“One big downer, one big upper, and eight miles of routine hell to pay…”

Half marathoners and marathoners started and ran together for the first five miles, until the former split left on Perry Smith Road. Just 1.5 miles into the run we plunged into the gorge carved by the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River, the stream that makes Cummins Falls. We ran alongside that river until it joined Roaring River—also a State Scenic River—followed it for two miles and then turned up Morrison’s Creek, which drains another narrow valley. At the head of that valley, the course demanded payback. A crushing climb called Chaffin Hill at mile 17 delivered marathoners back to the plateau on which they’d started, and to which they were bound to return.

Read the full story by Dallas Smith by clicking HERE

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Running Blackburn Fork Two Years After The Flood

Blackburn Fork two years ago

When Josh Hite and I innocently turned down Blackburn Ford Road on our morning run of Friday, August 27, 2010, we didn’t know we were headed for the scene of water’s most forceful devastation we’d ever seen. That day we waded the river and scrambled through house-sized piles of tangled trees. Three of the four bridges crossing the river, along with their abutments and piers, had been scattered by the flood’s immense force. Judy Richardson, who lives in a house on ground barely high enough to survive the flood and overlooking one of the bridges swept away, said it looked like the Colorado River had coursed through that narrow valley.

What Josh and I saw that day astonished us. We rambled the length of the gorge in amazement. Several hours and twenty-two miles later we found ourselves in Gainesboro, hungry, dehydrated and exhausted from exploring and running through the August heat. His wife Martha drove from Cookeville to Gainesboro to pick us up. A year later my account of that run became Chapter 40 in the book Going Down Slow (2011).

Today, Josh and I made our second anniversary run down the river. The run has become an annual habit. Things have changed remarkably for the better there since last year, and certainly since two years ago. The road has been raised and rebuilt, the section at Judy Richardson’s house paved even. In places where the road comes close to the river, rip-rap has been placed on tall embankments which should resist future undercutting. The piles of trees have been mostly removed. The bridge at Zion Road has been replaced by a longer and higher bridge, remnants of the old collapsed bridge hauled away.

Read the full story by Dallas Smith by clicking HERE

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