What It Takes to Get Ready for the 5K

Posted on March 1st, 2017

By Myron Marcotte, Mine Specialist Strataca


The day after the 2016 Mine Run I started thinking of how I could improve the next run. By far, one of the most helpful resources I had were runner comments that Strataca Volunteer Francis Habiger took in the Event Center. The comments ranged from “light all the corners in the run” to “put down a pink rope.”

We took all the suggestions and analyzed them for practicality and do-ability. By far the most important comment suggested changing the color of the rope used to map out the path of the run. The old rope was yellow and it was chosen based only on cost.  At the time, we did not know how many people would run nor how many, if any, sponsors we might get. So cost was foremost in our minds.

I got the rope supplier, Bairstow Rope, to send me several samples of different types and colors of rope. We laid them out directly on the salt safari tram path. We let the trams run over them for three months then we walked the route to see what we could or could not see. Before we started, everyone picked a color they thought might stand out. Hot pink was a favorite, along with black. To our surprise dark blue stood out like a sore thumb; however, hot pink was dulled by the salt dust and black all but disappeared. I made a short video on the rope color and emailed everyone. I also posted it on Facebook. We got over a hundred responses on which color to choose. As I suspected, dark blue was the favorite by four to one. Therefore, we purchased thirty spools of rope six hundred feet long each. In all we had eighteen thousand feet of rope, or roughly over three miles.

While we could not light every corner, we did manage to come up with an alternative idea. We know from some of the runner comments that they missed some of the corners.  Sam Nickel, from our maintenance department, built seventy posts, fashioned arrows out of reflective tape, and placed them on each corner. One of our route supervisors overheard some guests as they exited the Submarine crystal anomaly that “they must have needed two hundred more feet to run.” They ran past and did not see our biggest and most prominent crystal pod. To solve this we purchased four small twelve-volt batteries, clipped lights to them, and so, lit up the Sub and three other features.

The last, but probably the most important, thing we had to do was scale the entire three miles of route. Scaling is the process of using a tool, usually a long pole, to displace loose salt pieces to prevent any injuries from falling salt. Sam and I drove the entire route and marked the bad places with cones. Sam later spent a week scaling the route. However, since most of the run was on the safari route, we already had it maintained.

The last week before the run, Joel Busch (also from our maintenance department) and Sam put the rope down. They screwed clips to the floor that covered the rope, in order to secure the rope in place. Each corner had at least two clips, sometimes three. In all, I think they put down about 300 clips.

The Mine Run was a complete success because of the efforts of all the staff at Strataca, with help from the board of directors. We are already working on next year’s run. One of the suggestions was kilometer and mile markers. Sure hope you run – it is a ‘bucket list’ adventure for sure!

Golf cart loaded down with spools of blue rope to make the route for the run.

Golf cart loaded down with spools of blue rope to make the route for the run.

Strataca is CLOSED EASTER SUNDAY, open daily 9 to 5, 1 to 5 on Sundays, and closed Mondays. The last tour is at 3