The Paris Mountain Trail Runs, a three-part series sponsored by the Greenville Track Club and XTERRA, are popular Upstate running events for those tired of pavement, itching for adventure, or just hankering for the free pancakes available at the finish line. As someone who’s run both the 7k and 11k courses as well as volunteered two water stations in the wilderness, I like to consider myself something of an expert.
When it comes to the PMTRs, there’s one complaint I hear over and over again — why are there so many things to trip over? No, that’s not it…although anyone entering these races (particularly those who have never been to Paris Mountain State Park before) should understand that the word “trails” here is used in the most rugged sense imaginable. We’re not talking the paved tranquility of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. No, the Paris Mountain trails are primarily used for hiking — frequently, the trails are only wide enough for one runner comfortably…and that runner must keep a keen eye on the ground they trod, lest a tree root, jutting rock, pine cone, or small woodland creature (exaggeration) catches them unawares. There are several very steep inclines, and in one location a series of (often slippery) stone steps to traverse. It is physically taxing but very enjoyable.
No, the most frequent complaint I hear involves direction. As in, not knowing where the course goes, which turn to take, or where the mile markers are. Because the trails are so different from ordinary running, even experienced runners’ sense of distance covered is often confounded.
No more. I’ve heard a rumor that there are now 3D maps of the course available on the series’ website. So, if you’re interested in running the 15k, 7k, or 11k races, go check out that link and get acquainted with your new friend.