I Am Done Trail Running

Meditations in Motion

I am done trail running for at least three months. Even though I have written several posts singing the praises of trail running this summer, (you can read some of them here, here, and here) I am off the trails until at least the beginning of November.

Readers of this blog know I have been trail running with my friend and fellow former chemistry teacher Al, who repeatedly asked my hubby and me to register for a 15k trail race he was doing in July. For some reason, we didn’t bite. The race was close to our house, the race director had a reputation for putting on well-organized, fun races, and the trails were beautiful single track, but very runnable. None of these reasons were compelling enough to entice us to register.

I texted Al the morning after the race to see how it went. To my surprise, he called, rather than returning my text. He told me his race did not go well. I was surprised, because he seemed to be very well trained. I expected him to tell me a story of heat, humidity and slow race times; instead, the story he told me ended with him in the emergency room.

Meditations in Motion

At approximately mile six, he was attacked by hornets! Several runners around him were also stung, but he got the worst of it. He was stung eight times by the angry wasps. (I researched after the fact and learned that all hornets are wasps, but not all wasps are hornets.)

He thought to finish the race and kept running but felt a numbness creeping up his fingers into his hands, then rising through his arms and legs. He was not previously allergic to any type of bee sting but soon realized that he was in trouble. He fell down on the trail, unable to get up.

Meditations in Motion

Other racers came upon him on the ground and asked if he was alright. “No,” he responded, “I’m not.” Several racers dragged/carried him to the nearest park road (they were racing in a state park), and one runner who was carrying a cell phone called the race director. A park ranger soon appeared, loaded Al into his truck, and took him to the ranger station, where they were met by an ambulance. The ambulance sped him to the nearest ER with sirens blaring.

Doctors at the hospital were able to administer epinephrine, which reduced the immediate danger posed by the stings. Al will need to get blood tests to determine the exact type of venom he was injected with. Amazingly, de-sensitization to the wasp stings is possible, but until the de-sensitization treatments are administered, he will need to carry an Epi-Pen.

Al told me apologetically that he did not want to run trails with an Epi-Pen. We discussed our realization that if he had been stung on one of our trail runs, it could have spelled disaster. I could not have dragged him any distance, and Al was always the leader on our trail runs. To tell the truth, I am directionally challenged. I didn’t have any idea how to get back to our cars about 75% of the time we were on the trails. We often ran in locations with no cell phone reception and, in fact, never carried phones.

I told Al that no apology was necessary. Trails are usually part of my running repertoire only in late fall, winter and spring for exactly that reason – I do not want to encounter angry wasps (or poison ivy). I have heard horror stories from other trail runners who were attacked by hornets. We made arrangements to meet for some road running later this summer.

Meditations in Motion

Right now the only races I have on my schedule are two road marathons – one in Washington state in August and Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. in October. This is so unlike my spring race schedule, which was filled with all types of fun, exciting races, some on the trails and some on the roads. Actually, I like to be busy; I enjoy having a variety of races to anticipate.


Meditations in Motion
Hornet-free, but you had to watch out for those pesky penguins!


The combination of a sparse fall racing schedule and the sudden lack of a weekly trail run was disconcerting to me. Then I got a message from the race director of a very appealing three-hour trail race I have done for the last four years. Registration for the 2019 version of the race is opening. It is held in central Pennsylvania in a state park in January. The temperature at the beginning of last year’s race was 0 degrees F. The trails were snow-covered, scenic, and best of all….hornet-free! I am signing up for the race tonight. I will start training in November!

I am linking up with Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for their Friday 5, and Holly from HoHo Runs,Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home for their Weekly Wrap, and Shank You Very Much for Dream Team.









  1. That’s so scary about your friend! I’ve been stung by a yellow jacket while running but never multiple wasps/hornets/evil insects. I’m glad he’s ok. Now he’ll have to be extra diligent–those buggers are really mean this time of year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How scary!!!!!! I did a half marathon a few years ago and got stung by a bee/wasp of some sort near mile 6. I’m allergic to pretty much everything but the sun, moon, and stars, so it was a total fluke I didn’t have any adverse reactions to it. It turns out, several other runners also got stung at the same place on the race course (I later learned in the medic tent when they were checking to see if the stinger was still intact).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is SO scary! I know what a threat they can be here in Florida too. And I had a bad experience last month when I was hiking…not life threatening but miserable. A horse fly got after me. It took me 20 minutes to get back to my car and I was bit between 20 and 30 times. I sure miss hiking right now but August is pretty much out for us this far South. Take care! AND…thanks for the sweet comment and book recommendation. I am going to buy the book on Amazon today! Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, that is a very scary story. I am so glad your friend is okay. I love running trail, but in the spring/summer, there are so many things to worry about… snakes, bears, poison ivy… and now HORNETS! Thanks for giving me one more thing to fear. 😉

    Then of course there are rapists/murderers, who I fear all four seasons of the year!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yikes! Poor Al. I was attacked by bald-faced hornets (yes, that’s a thing) once, and was stung five times. It HURT, but luckily it turned out I wasn’t allergic. What a scary and humbling experience, and I can understand how that might put you off trail running until it’s too cold for the little buggers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ugh! Hornets are the worst! I don’t even consider them sentient beings, therefore I feel free to ask my hubby to spray them when they start to build nests at our house. I was stung by 2 bald-faced hornets one time when we were playing volleyball in a friend’s yard and I got too close to their nest when I tried to retrieve the ball. It DOES hurt!


  6. OMG. I hate hornets with a passion & have a mild phobia of them. Thankfully I’ve only done a couple of trail races, and none of them involved hornets. I’m glad your friend was ok.

    We had hornets build a nest on the back of our mailbox — you really wouldn’t notice it when you went to get the mail & I didn’t, and got stung 2 days running. Thankfully it was just painful. I know you can develop allergies at any time, and my Dad is allergic (and happened to be visiting at the time).

    That is just so darn scary though.

    Not only do I not enjoy training in the summer, I don’t like it in the winter either. Although I will usually take cold over the heat!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That is scary!! And fortunate that he was at a race and not running alone. I’ve never encountered hornets/wasps on the trails here, though I’m sure they are around since we had a nest on our house last year.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That is so scary! I wonder if it was multiple stings at once that made his reaction so bad? Last year a wasp got in a vent in my helmet while I was riding. I’m not allergic so I kept going until the next rest stop, but it hurt!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ouch! That does sound painful. I’m not sure if it was because he had a bunch of stings all at once that caused such an extreme reaction or not. It makes me want to be very careful!


  9. Ugh! Hornets are the WORST!!! And starting around now until late fall, they’ll be super angry. They get really busy and angry when their hive starts dying so if you see hornets, turn the other way. They will attack unprovoked.

    Honeybees, on the other hand… I love those little guys.

    I’m glad Al is okay and I don’t blame him one bit for not wanting to run trails right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have a similar story except we were hiking and miles from our car. It was my first time ever being stung by a hornet so it was all new to me. Thankfully I was able to make it back to the car and we were able to get Benedryl before going to the ER. I should carry an Epi-Pen with me but I don’t…I know. Not smart at all!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That’s so scary, thank goodness for the other runners. I don’t think there’s anywhere I run where I’m too far from help but I’ve been bitten by horseflies twice and that’s not fun. I don’t think I’m actually allergic to them like I am to mosquito bites and they usually take a while to get going, so I’d be home by the time the fun starts. However, I’ve realised I have to be really careful after one as I do get a bit breathless which makes running more difficult. No bears in the UK, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That is so scary! Your friend is very lucky there were people around who could assist him quickly. I hope he never plans to run alone. We have a lot of wasps around here and they love to nest in our chimney. I’m glad to see a hornet free trail race is in your future. Thanks for linking!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh my goodness! Worst nightmare. Ekk! I’m so glad to hear your friend is OK and that other runners were around who could help. That would definitely put me off running trail…. you know… if I could run that is 🙂 Thank you for joining us for the #dreamteam x

    Liked by 1 person

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