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Malcomb: Go long or go home

I'm not going to lie to you — I made a rather rash decision a couple of weeks ago.

Jamey MalcombI signed up to do the Grand Traverse, a trail run/hike along the Superior Hiking Trail between Duluth and Jay Cooke State Park on Sept. 29. There are a variety of distances, ranging from 10-27 miles.

Did I sign up for one of the 10-, 17- or even 21-mile distances? Of course not.

This is really unbelievable. I paid someone so that I can get on a bus at Fitger's Inn in Duluth that's going to drive me down to the Wisconsin border (I think, clearly I haven't researched this thoroughly), and then I'm going to run or hike 27 miles back to Fitger's.

This was not smart on a number of levels. We're about three weeks out from this little jaunt and since I signed up on a whim, I haven't been training outside of my normal routine. I am unprepared for this.

I also don't even know exactly where this bus is dropping me off. It's sort of like the first time I ran Grandma's, except back then I had been to Two Harbors before I even signed up.

In the back of my mind, there is this nagging feeling that this was a monumentally stupid decision.

On the other hand, there was a certain twisted reasoning for signing up and I have a few things going in my favor.

I signed up because back in January, I decided to set a goal for myself to section hike all 310 miles of the SHT at some point. I didn't put a time frame on the goal, I just want to get it done.

My first trip out back in early February was a bit of a disaster. My wife drove the Gonz (my dog) and I up to Hartley Park in Duluth and the plan was to hike out to Martin Road a few miles outside Duluth.

Things didn't go as planned.

I got turned around in Hartley and ended up on the Lakewalk by Leif Erickson Park. It was snowing and I haven't spent a ton of time on the trail or in Hartley, but let's be honest — I am not Bear Grylls. I didn't even know I had gone the wrong way until I stumbled out of the woods and onto UMD's campus.

Since then, I've only been out on the trail a couple times and done just a few miles, but I thought this was an opportunity to jump start my progress. I'll hack off almost 10 percent of the trail in one day and the Traverse will be supported by volunteers, so, theoretically, I won't get lost.

I also do run quite a bit and the pace I need to keep isn't a running pace — about 3 mph. When I was in Spain earlier this year, my wife and I were doing 12-13 miles a day without batting an eyelash.

Counterpoint: Walking on pavement through Barcelona is not the same as hiking 27 miles on the SHT.

Finally, the most important reason this might not be a disaster, I convinced my wife to sign up for the 17-mile distance. The plan is for her to hike it and I will catch up to her after an she's been on the trail an hour or so (my start is earlier than hers). Then she and I will do the rest at a more leisurely pace.

I think I can do it, but there's not doubt, I got myself in deep this week and the only solution is to hike my way out of it. But spending a day with my wife on the trail sounds pretty awesome right about now.

Jamey Malcomb is a reporter for the News-Chronicle.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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