Thursday, July 15, 2010

Running Hazards: Spiderwebs

Blogging Marathon: Day 13

Photo by Shannon Johnstone

I was out early one morning, standing at the start of the trail by Lake Crabtree. I was looking for a small branch, which I will explain in a minute.

This guy runs by me down the trail, with no branch.
So I followed him, curious to see his technique. After about a quarter mile, he stops, starts making spitting sounds and pawing at his face. Then he turns around and runs back to the safety of the greenway.

Of course, I am talking about spider webs. The trails of North Carolina are quite lovely in the summer, that is until you run face first into a huge invisible web and the spider is now crawling down inside your shirt.

I guess I am early riser, because most of the time I run the trail  I am doing web clearing duty.
My technique is to find a small branch, maybe 3 feet long, spread out like  a fan. Then I run with it out in front of me to clear the path of webs.

I am sure there are runners who are more hardcore who have no problem using the face clearing method. But running an hour covered in webs, dead bugs, and live spiders is not the way I want to start my day.

It is important to note that while most webs are in the narrow single track trails, they can be anywhere.
One wet day last year I had exited the thick trees into an open area. I dropped my web covered stick and happily picked up the pace, bounding up and sprinting across a bridge.

At the middle of the bridge I noticed huge black blob floating in the air. By the time I registered that it was very large spider sitting in the center of her web, I was only inches away. I tried to stop by doing the cartoon style breaking of digging in my heels. Instead I fell flat on my ass and slid underneath the web all the way across the wet bridge.

I was walking funny with a bruised tailbone for like a week, which I classified as a spider injury. So the lesson is to never drop your stick until you are ready to turn around and go home.

Another Hazard
Oh, and another thing you must watch out for when running trails in the summer is lunatics running at you carrying huge sticks.