Friday, October 21, 2011

Toeing the Starting Line

There is something infinitely calm in that moment spent standing at the starting line just before the clock counts down to zero and all moves into forward motion. Breath is exhaled, tense muscles relax, and thought is distilled to a point usually reserved for the dedicated practitioner of meditation. This year’s Run for the Hills 5k starting line was the site of this rare and (for me) much sought after clean simplicity of thought. I felt ready to do my part to honor the 2009 performance of one Robbie Kimmich and bring home a win for TMI staff.

And fare well we did. It seems that one of the hiring criteria at the Spruce Knob Mountain Center may be love of the trail running as staff have done quite well in the races since the event’s inception three falls ago. Home trail advantage is not a bad thing to be sure, but staff up here in the high country put in the hard miles in preparation. Take a look at the results page here and keep an eye out for the following names: Clare Smith in the ½ marathon and Melinda Brooks, Lyle Coutts, Dylan Carolus, Stephanie Palmer, Rebecca Saunders, Klancy Nixon, and Chuck Whitney in the 5k.

As always the pig roast following the race was a tremendous hit, and it was mentioned more than once from participants that this was some of the best food they had ever seen at a race. Also in no way disappointing was the beer from Mountain State Brewing out of Thomas – runners were able to bask in slightly accentuated post race camaraderie and storytelling thanks to a keg of amazing IPA. Chicha, our composting pig, certainly went to a great cause and we all feel that her spirit was smiling down on the weekend. In fact, in an unprecedented push to make next year’s pig the happiest yet, TMI employees, David Young and Liz Guttierez, spearheaded a fundraising effort to build a palatial hutch for our animals to live in next year. An amazing rendition of a winged Chicha was created and a good bit of money was raised for what is certainly a worthy cause.

Plans are already in the works to make next year’s event bigger and better than ever, and if you haven’t come out to the races and roast yet, this will be the time. Bring the running shoes or focus more on the beer stein – whatever the case, we’ll see you out here next fall.

In case you missed them earlier, check out the results of the Run for the Hills and West Virginia Trilogy races here.

And for those who really want to get in depth here, check out this blog for the perceptions (possibly skewed by massive levels of fatigue) of a Trilogy runner.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Randolph County Outdoor Education Program: A Staple

Camp Pioneer is the place.

For over 10 years now, the Randolph County Outdoor Education Program (RCOEP), held at Beverly, WV's Camp Pioneer, has been a staple of TMI's yearly programming as well as a highlight of the fifth grade year for hundreds of West Virginia students. Combining local history, science, art, music, and technical skills, the program does exactly what outdoor education should: allowing kids to learn in a dynamic, surprising, and constantly evolving environment. Whether tackling an orienteering exercise or checking the PH levels of Tygart Creek, the participants in this program are combining classroom-style academic information with the hands on aspects you can only get when wading in a stream or tromping across a field. And when you factor in "Everybody's It" - a key RCOEP free time activity that is simply the greatest off shoot of Tag ever been created - you have something nearing perfection.

The local media agrees. Take a minute to check out this story. Sometimes the fact that you just might be having an impact somewhere down the line - be it near or far - is exactly what it takes to to push one to really commit to a project . Who knows which one of the fifth graders attending this year's program might end up on the board of directors of an environmental policy leader or a key member of a non-profit committed to showing kids that it's still worth getting outside and into the woods? You never know. And we at TMI will continue to do what we can to give kids a chance to discover the outdoors - through science, art, or music - making it something they will eventually focus on and grow connected to.