SHAWNEE – The Blue Blaze Run & Hike was held in Shawnee Oct. 1-2, a celebration of the Buckeye Trail experience and an opportunity for community members and exercise aficionados alike to get out in nature and enjoy the local woods.
Around eight years ago, the Buckeye Trail Association began to host and highlight trail runs around the area, encouraging locals to take part in the runs and appreciate the beauty of places like Burr Oak State Park. Many runs were offered this season: a 5K, a 10K and a half marathon, plus a 10-mile hike on the Buckeye trail.
A free Nature Meets History guided tour was offered Oct. 1 at Tecumseh Theater from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The next day, the races began. Hikers headed down Buckeye Trail for a gorgeous 10-mile hike that would end up back in Shawnee. At 9 a.m., the half marathon got started, with the 10K starting at 9:15 a.m. and the 5K starting at 9:30 a.m.
Each year, the Buckeye Trail Association sponsors a number of activities, with a large majority put together by volunteers. This year’s three trail runs racked up over 100 pre-registrations, and the volunteers were super happy to see so many people eager to race on the Buckeye Trail, which is also the biggest loop trail in the United States.
Volunteer Jeff Yoest explained that the association planned on doing a small festival with music, vendors and local artisans on Friday and Saturday, but the plans were cancelled due to COVID precautions. However, scheduling more trail runs is a great alternative to get more people out on the trails.
Yoest encourages visitors to make their way out to the trails, if not to participate in a run then to just relish in the woods’ natural beauty, or to learn about the historic area of Shawnee.
“We’ve worked really hard to get the trail in good shape and it’s a constant battle with mother nature,” Yoest said. “But… It’s just beautiful scenery down there. I’m prejudiced because we’ve done this for a number of years, but it’s just a beautiful place to hike.”