How It Started
The idea for the Shawnee 50 started many years ago.
This is where I discovered trail running, and The Forest is the genesis of all the passion I have for this sport.
Whatever it is about the Shawnee State Forest, every time I go there I feel refreshed and the fire inside burns for more epic adventures. It was in 2008 when I ran cross country for nearby Shawnee State University that the team captain first brought me on a trail run to what we simply call "The Forest." I remember seeing the sun glisten off Turkey Creek Lake for the first time and the dust rise beneath my feet as I ran on the dusty trails. This day showed me a different side of running, and opened up a whole new possibility of adventure.
Over the next four years the Shawnee State Forest became my home. I studied the contours and explored the valleys and ridge tops under the power of my own two feet. Every marked trail was memorized and more. As I grew in my knowledge of The Forest I became a faster collegiate cross country runner, and it was like The Forest was building me into a stronger person. If you spend time in The Forest you will get stronger.
The Forest soon became a very important training grounds for me and my teammates. Long hard runs over rugged terrain. We'd stop at the Buckeye Dairy Bar on the way back to campus an we'd get mad if someone brought up the milkshakes before we were halfway done with our run. Experiences and memories were being forged into me - it became a hangout with my friends, a vacation for my family, and the only place I could train when I was preparing to run a mountain ultramarathon. It was my --our-- little secret nestled in the deepest part of Southern Ohio.
There's nothing that particularly stands out about the Shawnee State Forest. There's no massive caves or rock outcroppings, no high mountain view, no ocean views, no historic buildings. But what it does have is wilderness; big remote solitude that makes you feel lost even in a spot you've been before. At the root of every trail runner I think there is this desire to test ourselves and to explore the depths of our physical and mental boundaries. The rugged hillsides and steep ascents and descents that are relentless and never ending at the Shawnee State Forest will test you. It's this type of challenge that will make you appreciate the Shawnee 50. You'll see the same thing for 50 miles, no time to rest, until you make it to the finish line. This is an old-time pure ultramarathon.
So it is with that that I present the Shawnee 50 Mile Trail Run. I hope to share with you the passion that I have for the Shawnee State Forest so that you may experience it too. I know it may take time to forge those memories for yourself, but if you keep coming back, and explore The Forest during other seasons for personal adventures that you will consider it a special place.
Thank you for checking out the Shawnee 50, I sincerely hope you come explore this forest.
Michael Owen, Race Director