Running the Sheltowee Trace



(Matte Hoye (left) and John King at Northern Terminus of the Sheltowee Trace)

by: Karen Weber 7/7/13

Earlier than most of us rise to greet the day on an overcast Sunday morning, Matt Hoye was arriving at the northern terminus of The Sheltowee Trace in Rowan County.  After only a few hours of sleep, he’d come prepared for yet another outdoor-adventure.  On the heels of exhaustive talks about strategy and critical gear selection the night before, he was about to attempt a 300+ mile journey in 7 days, running the entire length of the Sheltowee Trace to its southern-most terminus at Leatherwood in the Big South Fork.  He and a friend, who would accompany him this first day and another later in the week, paused long enough to share their thoughts and explain the motivation behind the challenge, as fog hung lazily in the air above lush treetops bowed beneath a blanket of humidity.

            Hoye, a teacher of Photography at Thomas Nelson High School in Bardstown, Kentucky, also serves as the Cross Country and Track & Field coach for students at the Nelson county school. His interest in outdoor adventures began when he was a high schooler, first as a mountain biker, then as a runner.  These passions carried him well into his 20’s, and now he strives to pass this enthusiasm on to an upcoming generation of cyclists and runners.  Over the years, Hoye said he’s been on the Sheltowee Trace as a hiker, cyclist, and runner.  In 2000 he was the first person to complete the Trace on a mountain bike.  This endeavor pushed his own limits and made him realize it was a key to motivating others, as well.   Always thinking about new angles to engage students, Hoye confessed that several of his cross country team members were following his progress via social media.   Later in the fall, when school resumes, he plans to share his experiences through photo-essays and group talks in the classroom.

            Asked about details like strategy, nutrition, and recovery after, essentially, running a marathon a day for a week, Matt finished buttoning one of two lightweight shirts that would get soaked with sweat and dry throughout the trek, as he said, “you keep a smooth pace with small steps on easier terrain, walk up extreme hills, watch closely what you’re doing to avoid injury, stay aware of surroundings, and go as long and as far as your body will take you.  I’ve never done this before with consecutive days and big miles.  I’m just going to take it one day at a time.” Keeping his sodium up was a main concern, but there was also no shame in admitting that a stop at the McDonalds in Morehead was planned after the first 27 miles. 

            Matt’s daily gear for the adventure seemed minimal when compared to the amount of gear carried by hikers doing “big mile” walks in the backwoods of the Daniel Boone National Forest.  Trail running shoes, obviously broken in by hundreds of miles of practice, feather-weight shorts, a hat to deflect rain, and compression calf-sleeves worn to enhance circulation and protect against trail over-growth, anticipated after the abundant rainfall of recent days, made up his attire.  A hydration-pack with mesh pouches were filled with nutritional supplements developed for long distance runners, along with hand-held water bottles, designed to be carried like 2 pound weights, were filled with  the special “Gu” juice that would resupply his depleted nutritional reserves.  A UV-light pen for purifying water completed the minimal gear he would be carrying. 

 Whether camping out, or traveling back and forth between overnight accommodations and the Sheltowee Trace , Matt is quick to acknowledge the family and friends who’ll be playing a supportive role along the way.  In fact, a few friends are planning to join him a day at a time, along the course, for moral support and as part of their own personal challenges.

Exuding a quiet optimism and appreciation for the interest shown in his summer project, time for talk was over and he was off, down the trail, as if starting a leisurely jog along a woodland path on a Sunday morning.  The first stream crossing was in site with over 300 miles to go, and the sun was finally coming through the clouds.



1 thought on “Running the Sheltowee Trace

  1. Chris

    I’ve been thinking about doing this myself for awhile. Glad to see others are visualizing the Sheltowee as this kind of goal.


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