LOCATION: Sparks, Maryland    

COURSE: Trail, Flat 

DISTANCE: 26.2 Miles    

PRICE: $75(Early Bird) – $95

Goal Time: 4h 20m   –   Finish (Chipped) Time: 4h 18m

This is a beautiful and FAST out and back course along the Northern Central Railroad (NCR) trail in Maryland.  It starts at a nearby Elementary school and travels about 1.5-2 miles on pavement before entering through one of the trail heads.  From there, you run up about 11 miles to the turnaround point where you will travel back down the trail with is a compacted combination of dirt and fine stone.  The trail winds along the Gunpowder River, through quiet farmland which is very peaceful and scenic.  You’ll exit the trail for the final 2 miles.  It’s pretty hilly heading back to the school but i wasn’t complaining after a nice 22 mile stretch of flat terrain. The finish line is back at Sparks Elementary School.

PROS:  It’s a small race with less than 300 entrants allowed.  The scenery is peaceful and quite nice.  You aren’t stumbling over other runners so it makes for a very nice run.  You may even find yourself getting a little bored!

CONS:  It’s held the weekend after Thanksgiving which in Maryland means you may be fighting freezing temperatures!  Layer up and be prepared to strip down somewhere on the trail. The race shirt isn’t that great either. I can’t really complain with an entry fee that low but quite frankly, they are better off saving the money and using it toward something more useful.