Lost on a trail run, now what?

FullSizeRender (2)

This summer, I decided to incorporate trail running into my exercise routine. Running on the same roads can be boring and with so many trails nearby I figured I’d give it a shot.

However, while I was on a recent afternoon trail run, things didn’t go as planned.

On the last day of the school year, I decided I’d go for a run before the evening school board meeting. Personally, aerobic exercise before a school board meeting helps me with focus and concentration.

So I changed into my running duds, laced up my shoes and drove over to the Kennebunkport Land Trust. I had never run at the K’port Land Trust but having visited previously, it looked like the perfect place. I parked the car, I had four hours before the school board meeting, so I planned a longish run.

I started on a well-marked trail with two sets of signs one saying “10K Trail Loop” and the other the name of the trail. I got into my running groove and slowly meandered through the woods–feeling great!

After about an hour into the run, I noticed I could no longer find those little “10K Trail Loop” signs. Shortly after, a new trail sign appeared that stated: “Trail Under Construction.” I decided I would keep running but after another thirty minutes, I came to a trail map that said, “You are here” which didn’t help me one bit.

For a brief moment, panicked set in, and I got the feeling I was lost. I didn’t have a phone; I had never bothered to get a trail map, and no one knew I was running at the Trust. I took a deep breath, looked at my watch and figured I still had at least two hours before I had to be back–so I ran on.

A little while later the trail crossed a dirt road, and I noticed the outline of a house through the trees. I decided to go to the house and knock on the door. After ringing the doorbell, a cheerful older woman opened the door. I explained that I had run through the woods from the Land Trust and could she help me? She offered to have me use the phone, but I declined and thanked her, deciding I’d backtrack on the trail.

I attempted to retrace my steps to the last place that I recognized but after running another thirty minutes, I was totally lost and confused. Feeling dejected, I decided it was time to go back to the dirt road.

I arrived back at the dirt road which brought me to Bradberry’s market, in Cape Porpoise. I asked the cashier at the market if I could use their phone to call a taxi and she said they didn’t have a phone I could use.

Standing red-faced, sweating profusely, dehydrated I was flummoxed–no phone? Dejected, I left the market and ran up the hill to the only other place I knew — the Kennebunkport Police Department.

By this time it was six pm, one hour before the school board meeting. I introduced myself to the dispatcher and explained I had gotten lost running in the Land Trust. He looked at me and asked where my car was parked. I told him at the Trust, and he replied, “On Gravelly Brook Road? Wow, you are lost.” I asked if I could use the phone to call a taxi, but instead, he radioed for an officer to take me back to my car.

Embarrassed I happily agreed to take the ride. When the officer arrived, he couldn’t have been more pleasant, asking me, “front or backseat?”

With a few minutes to spare, I was able to make it to the school board meeting.Compass (1)

Here are a few things I plan on doing before I go for another run on a trail but for now, you’ll see me waddling along the roads until I can get my courage up!

Tell someone where you’re going.

Bring a map and compass.

Carry a cell phone.

Run with a friend.

Do a little research on where you are running and the type of terrain you’ll encounter.

Talk to other runners who know the trail system.

Find out what wildlife might be lurking in the area.

Leave your headphones at home so you’re able to stay tuned to the environment.

Phillip Potenziano

About Phillip Potenziano

In addition to blogging, Dr. Potenziano works as an Assistant Superintendent, and volunteers on the board of a southern Maine local non-profit. He is happily nestled just north of Portland, with his 3 kids, a wife and lots of projects awaiting his attention. He loves early morning runs, donuts and sometimes coffee. Two lessons he tries to remember are: "Every man is my superior in that I may learn from him" and "At the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assure your success."