Leaf Mountain Footrace

This year was my second year running the Leaf Mountain Footrace. I’m so glad I found it and gave it a go that first year. The race is so unique, fun, and full of surprises!

2021 race

Last year, I ran 2 loops and then stopped since I was nursing. My youngest was ready to eat and go to bed! The race has had a evening and late afternoon start the last two years. This year started at 5:08pm.

We planned to camp in the group camp since we could and thankfully the weather turned out to be nice for camping! My kids were very excited to get to camp. Getting to sleep involved some loud noises but we made it.


Back to the race itself, we arrived around 3:30 since check-in was from 3-4:30 and the race could start anytime between 4:37-5:22. I guessed 5:02 so I was pretty close to the actual start!

I planned to run all three loops and was relieved to hear at the pre-race meeting that there were no cutoff times this year. My good friend came to run the first loop with me!

Pre-race picture

The race is part scavenger hunt and involves some navigating. The course is unknown until you check-in on race and day. To show you completed the loop, you need to find books and take out your page (based on your bib number). Books are located every .5-1.5 miles but exact locations are unknown. They are thankfully mostly visible! I made the course map my Lock Screen on my phone which worked really well for looking at the map to see where we were on the course.

Course Map

For the first loop, we started off out of group camp and up a long slow gradual hill followed by a decent climb to the first book. Then we got a little lost and had to backtrack to the second book. I was thinking of last year’s course and took us up the ridge instead of staying on track. Thankfully, some girls helped direct us back!

After that, I felt nervous about navigating but kept working on enjoying the run. We chatted away and fell into a fairly comfortable rhythm. My friend said she definitely realized how flat Grand Forks is compared to Glacial Lakes! We saw other runners coming through and even the first few men were chasing each other. Mostly though, everyone was happy to cheer each other on in the race!

The first loop included wooded areas, some prairie, and the spot of the highest elevation with a beautiful view.

Taking a break on a bench at the top of a hill!

6 books later and we were ready to turn our pages in to be checked. Thankfully, we had all 6 and I was cleared to go onto the next loop! My friend happily stopped at one loop—I was so proud of us for doing that loop together and for her finishing on a tough course when you’ve trained on flat ground! A hug to my friend, asking for my husband’s hat in prep for night, and a quick chat with my kids all happened before I headed off into the prairie for the next loop.

I had been told in the check-in area that I would likely catch up to the girls who had helped us before. This helped motivate me to get going and I was just ready to run! That first gradual hill again had me walking some but I stuck to my plan of running most of the flats and walking the hills. I felt a bit daunted by the amount of time I had been on my feet but was determined to keep going.

The sun was setting and I had my headlamp even if it wasn’t on my head yet. I had it in the back of my pack.

The books on this loop felt pretty easy and I felt good. I caught up with one other racer for the 7th book. We were both relieved to know we had not missed it! I said happy trails and kept on running even though it was tempting to stick with someone else. Shortly after that I met up with the group of girls. They were making their way and had headlamps out already. I passed them and we all met up at the next intersection. We made our way to the donkeys on the course. At this point, we were all a little confused at where the next book was. Finally, I went further down the trail and found it. 9 down and 3 to go.

Hanging out in group camp with Betty

I kept working my way and started seeing people on their third loop out on the course. I kept wondering what the third loop would hold. They told us that we would get the map after we finished the second loop.

Right when I was starting to wonder if I would find book 12 another runner encouraged me that it was just ahead.

With the last page of loop 2 in my hand, I headed toward camp! At this point, most of my desire to be done at 2 loops had ended and I knew I could finish. I hadn’t trained for being on my feet this long but I knew I could keep going even if I had to walk.

As I ran into the group camp, I was excited to see my family and to my surprise my aunt had decided to come out to the race! She took some pictures and then I handed in my pages.

They asked if I was going for a third and I said yes. They pulled out a map and told me that there were 2 books to get for this loop. One out on the first loop course and one on the second loop course. They told me one book was under a garbage can and the other on the ground. I wrote this down so I wouldn’t forget. Someone asked if I needed anything else before heading out so I took a little water bottle since I didn’t feel like taking the time to fill my hydration pack. Later, I would realize this was not very comfortable. They did warn me someone had been seen in the park who was acting strange. The rangers had escorted one but couldn’t find the other. I still decided to keep going.

Happy to see everyone after 2 loops!

I waffled a little bit about what book to go get first but then committed to go get the one on the loop I had just finished. I set off and was encouraged by other headlamps in the distance. Grateful I was not the only one out there even if these people were getting their second book already.

Writing down the instructions for the third loop.
Telling me where to go.

I ran into the donkeys coming back from their spot and they asked if I was okay. I got a little nervous I was on the wrong route but it all was okay. When I finally made it to the area where the book was, someone told me that the book was a little was ahead on a post on the left. Confused by the info but going with it I found the next post but there was no book. I got nervous but choose to keep going since sometimes “a little ahead” can mean much farther. Another runner told me almost to the top of the hill. To my relief, the book was there and the page was soon in my hands.

Watching a movie since it got late.

I headed quickly back the way I came and started off toward the Oak campground to find a garbage can. I ran into another runner coming from the book and encouraged him. He asked if I was on my first or second book. I said second. He was too. He had to head to the prairie still.

Waiting for mommy

Thankfully, this was fairly easy section for me and I even took a picture of the book cover. This one made me smile. Feeling excited and exhausted I ran as much as I could back to group camp. My legs were tired even if I wasn’t out of breath. At some point, I began racing the clock wanting to finish before 5 hours. I snuck in at 4:54 on my Garmin. I handed in my pages, got my medal, chatted with the runner I ran with last year, and jumped into chatting with my kids. After eating some chili, I was ready for bed.

I’m proud of myself for training hard, having fun, going longer than I thought, sticking with it, encouraging others, and for taking time for myself. I always feel better when I’m able to run and talk with God—this summer was no different. All the trail and road miles talking about big and little stuff with Him.

Another great race in the books.

Canon is 4 and Arrow is 2!

  • Canon’s…
  • Favorite Foods: pizza, ice cream, pineapple, buttered toast
  • Favorite Color: Blue and pink and black
  • Favorite Book: Paw patrol
  • Favorite Song: Cinderella
  • Favorite Movie/Show: Paw patrol
  • Favorite Animal: Asher’s stuffed snake
  • Favorite sports: Tennis
  • Favorite toy: Legos
  • Favorite thing to play: Legos
  • Favorite place to go: Africa
  • Job he wants: I don’t know. I like cleaning up legos.
  • Place he wants to visit: Grandma Nancy’s
  • Favorite Bible story: Pharaoh
  • Friends: Arrow and Asher and Melea
  • Arrow’s…
  • Favorite Foods: butter, cookie butter, toast, pizza
  • Favorite Book: Construction books, train books
  • Favorite Movie/Show: Paw patrol
  • Favorite toy: Cars, legos
  • Favorite Bible story: David and Goliath

Canon, I love watching you grow! You learned so much this year. Your Lego creations impress me and you use your creativity as well as take into account engineering elements. You say such fun and funny things. You can be so serious and go after what you want. You know how to use your voice and even say that God gave you super loud noises to use. We have built train tracks and forts. You’ve kept me company while I did many hours of landscaping rock. You are still quite the chef and had fun making your cakes. You bring me such joy with you being you! May this next year be full of adventure.

Arrow! Wait. You’re not a baby anymore and you’re already 2! I love seeing you grow. You repeat so many words and know so many words. You communicate well and are learning to speak up for your needs. You have a good: “____ did it” when it come to sibling squabbles. You still snuggle close and love to rub your own head. You’re rocking one afternoon nap and going to bed around 8pm. I love your sweet hugs. You are quick to be independent and don’t usually look for a hand to hold but you will hold my hand if I ask. You have a good start on playing with legos and trains. And of course you’re good at taking things apart. You know how to let us know you’re hungry and love picking out what food. You had a cast this year and I’m grateful that you rocked it and are already back to mostly normal. You climb anything and sometimes I ask you to come lower because it feels high to me. You are a joy and I’m so grateful to have you in our family. Keep being you.

August Writing Prompt #4

Words Matter

Sometimes I wonder what words of mine rumble around in other people’s heads. I know there are words and situations that pop up for me even when it has been years after they happened or sometimes they’re from last week. Some are fun, happy memories and others leave me with that pit in my stomach feel of not knowing how they could say that or not say anything. They remind me to speak as kindly as I can because words stick. I know I have fallen short and I get to choose what to do with the words from others. I am invited into doing the work of forgiveness and the practice of clinging to the words from the Lord—He gets the final say.

August Writing Prompts #3

What do you do for fun?

Running, hiking, walking, and being outside are my go-to fun activities! Lately, I have been hitting the trails for runs. This season has required some flexibility in scheduling so I’ve come to love early morning and late evening runs to keep my mind and body happy. Though, really, any run or hike brings me joy. I always am happy I went afterwards even if I feel intimidated beforehand.

Adventure and exploring new places are high on my list of things that bring me fun. Looking at plane tickets, dreaming, and planning trips are all part of the fun. I love researching the details of places to eat and things to do.

Books definitely come into my for fun category! Reading a book I can’t put down, a cookbook, a travel book, a Christian book, leadership book, WW2, historical fiction, biography, fantasy, and others. I like variety and have grown to be more selective as I’ve gotten older. I’ve read 31 books so far this year.

Throwing pottery on the wheel and even this last year I grew to love hand building.

Cooking, baking, and trying new recipes.

Quality time with my people. Give me time to talk, play a game, or just hang out with those I love and I am very happily having fun.

August Writing Prompts #2

What is your pace in this season? How do you feel about it?

When I think about this season’s pace, speed work and hill runs come to mind. We have specific goals and deadlines we are trying to hit but are needing to put in the work to be ready. Our basement and house projects are cruising along but then we hit a hill that takes a bit longer to tackle. Supply issues, scheduling, and life with four littles are some of those hills. Yet, we are still showing up to do the work and run hard and fast while we can.

I’m feeling a bit sad that this summer has not been one full of camping, travel, and quality time. I have a little bit of hope that this season will come to an end and we will see a finished house ready. Throw in some feelings of stress and overwhelm as we navigate finances, time management, and decisions. Add in a lot of decisions to be content, prayerful, trusting, cheerful, and keep my gaze on the Lord.

August Writing Prompts

1. Observe

I shut my eyes and I can feel the dirt underneath my feet as I keep making my way down the road. Everyone else is occupied and I am out by myself. The African sun is high above me and I work my way downhill. I am running toward the gate past the classroom and the other houses. The road bends and there might be some old pavers peaking through to help cars make their way up. My eyes are open taking in all the scenery has to offer but my mind is still focused elsewhere. I am mulling over the lesson during class. The ideas seem so foreign but I feel hunger for more. I did not know what was possible or that this was even a gift for today. Logic threatened to keep me held back but my heart wanted to try. I reasoned that at worst nothing would happen and at least no one was there to point it out. So, I opened my mouth and tried.

Asher is 8!

Real life! Army guys and Lincoln logs in the background.
Army guy strawberry cupcakes
  • Favorite Foods: Pizza, chicken strips, bananas foster, milkshakes, toast, rice pudding
  • Favorite Color: Blue
  • Favorite Book: Warriors, Dog Man, I survived, Hazardous Tales
  • Favorite Song: None
  • Favorite Movie/show: Dinotrux, Rescue Riders Dragons, Ninja Star Wars, The Nut Job, Open Season 2
  • Favorite Animal: dogs
  • Favorite sports: Basketball and golf
  • Favorite toy: Model boats, army guys, airplanes, books
  • Favorite thing to play: Army guys
  • Favorite place to go: Grandma’s house
  • Job he wants: General in the Navy
  • Place he wants to visit: Acadia National Park
  • Favorite Bible story: David and Goliath
  • Friends: Xavier, Rudy, Ezra, Phillip

Another year has passed and you’re that much closer to double digits! First grade was filled with all sorts of adventures. You missed some things because of us being sick but you got to do the Marathon and the Spring musical. You took off reading and say that you can read books like water. You grew two more inches and already weigh 60lb! We finally let you switch your car seat to a booster. Your Lego creations, army setups, and creativity are fun to see!

Asher, I see you as bold, fun, intense, thoughtful, kind, and creative. I love seeing the games you make up and how you are always wanting to come up with another plan or adventure. You go up to librarians to ask for help, you seek out others, and love to play. You tell us when we are overreacting and are good at showing your own emotions. You got glasses this year but don’t always remember to wear them. You had fun in basketball, tennis, golf, and swimming lessons! You were not too sure about going off the diving board but you did awesome naming your limits and trying what you could. You are definitely ready for us to be done fixing the house since you seem to love quality time. I love spending time with you too. You’re my best Asher. I’m excited to see what God has for you in this next year.

Arrow 11 Months

I’m coming in only a few weeks late but here it is! My baby is 11 months.

What we have learned…you are quite the climber! You aren’t walking all the time yet (just taking a few steps) but you can climb onto the table and chairs. You can climb onto beds and all the things. You love to explore!

What we are enjoying…your smile and sweet nature. I love snuggling with you and how you lay your head on my chest still.

We are struggling with…slowing down time! I keep wanting to soak up all the time with you and your siblings.

Most exciting milestones…you are standing some and taking steps! You know how to go down backward from things but still need to be reminded.

Arrow seems to like…eating everything, standing, climbing, cars and toys, being held, music, and being included.

Dislikes seem to include…toys being taken from him, getting stuck in the high chair, being “sat on” by his siblings, and being left alone.

Sleep looks like…getting up usually once in the night to eat around 4-5 but then back to sleep. Usually waking up around 7-8. Still rocking a morning nap around 9/10ish and an afternoon one around 1-2ish. Totally rolling with all our flexibility.

He’s eating…all the things! He likes Annie’s bunnies, pancakes, pizza, and he eats whatever we are eating. He’s still nursing 4-5 times—working our way toward weaning. Still takes him about 10-15 minutes to eat.

At the last doctors appointment…he weighed 18 lb 13.5oz and was 29.25 inches long. His head circumference was 46cm.

Asher is 7!

  • Favorite Foods: Bananas foster pancakes
  • Favorite Color: Blue
  • Favorite Book: Books about war
  • Favorite Song: The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything by Veggie Tales
  • Favorite Movie/show: Octonauts and Paw Patrol
  • Favorite Animal: Dragon and a dog
  • Favorite sports: Basketball and tennis
  • Favorite toy: Model boats
  • Favorite thing to play: Legos
  • Favorite place to go: A cave
  • Job he wants: Officer in the Navy or a Captain
  • Place he wants to visit: Yellowstone or New York City
  • Favorite Bible story: David
  • Friends: Josiah and Jacob

What a year it has been! I’m happy to say that about a month after his birthday he got to visit Yellowstone! We filled that part out around his birthday and I’m just now getting around to finally posting this. I can hardly believe I have a seven year old who is going into first grade!

Asher, I see you as fun, adventurous, full of ideas, a great negotiator, constantly asking us to read you books, and you live up to your name as you bring such joy and happiness to people around you. I see you feeling all the big emotions and caring deeply. When we are out on hikes, in campgrounds, and out and about, I will often find you striking up conversations with all sorts of people. There are so many people I would not have met if you hadn’t said, “Hi! I’m Asher!” I’m so grateful for the ways you help around the house and see me when I’m sad. You bring such joy (and a few challenges ha!) to my life. I’m so curious to continue to see all the ideas you come up with and all the things you will do in life. Thanks for hiking with me in Yellowstone and going on an adventure together. You’re my favorite Asher.

Arrow 8,9,&10

Oops! Time flies when summer is here and all the things are happening. So, I’m jumping in with a 3 month update.

What we have learned…you are awesome at camping and hiking and going along on our adventures. You have such a fun personality and we love seeing it come out. From your loud noises to your little smile to raising your eyebrows at us, you bring us joy!

What we are enjoying…that you are along for the ride fully now! You eat pretty much what we do and you love to explore and play. We love being with you!

We are struggling with…keeping you from eating dirt and all the things! You want to crawl everywhere and taste all the things. You do put up more of a fuss about going in the car seat sometimes and you’re a pro at rolling away from diaper changes.

Most exciting milestones…you went on your first camping trip to Gooseberry Falls! You crawl like crazy and love to bear crawl to go faster. You sit and play with toys. You are starting to stand without holding onto anything for a few seconds at a time. You’re learning to go down backward from things too and are great at climbing (even the ladder when Ryan is working on trim). You have 5 teeth. 3 on top and 2 on the bottom.

Arrow seems to like…eating everything, standing, climbing, cars, being held, and being included.

Dislikes seem to include…not being able to reach what he wants, toys being taken from him, too much touching, and not being allowed down the stairs or out the doors especially if someone else is going out.

Sleep looks like…getting up usually once in the night to eat but then back to sleep. Usually up around 4-5 to eat and then then waking up around 7-8. Still rocking a morning nap around 9/10ish and an afternoon one around 1ish. Occasionally one more around 3/4ish too. Still rolling with all our summer schedules!

He’s eating…all the things! He tries just about everything. He eats whatever we are eating. He’s still eating about every 4ish hours during the day. Still takes him about 10-15 minutes to eat.

At the last doctors appointment…he weighed 18 lb 13.5oz and was 29.25 inches long. His head circumference was 46cm.