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Joel Sather of Noxon, Mont., captured the annual Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi Trail 50 in the Desoto National Forest Saturday afternoon. Pictured from left are Walters Sellers of United States Forest Service Law Enforcement, Sather and race director Dennis Bisnette.
Photo - Shawn Wansley /

Published March 11, 2007 01:13 pm -

Endurance run rebounds after Katrina
Over 200 runners compete in MS Trail 50 in Desoto National Forest

By Shawn Wansley,

Like many events, the Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi Trail 50 fell victim to Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

But Mississippi’s only endurance run made a nice recovery this year.

“We had around 225 sign up, which I would say is the most we’ve ever had,” said race director Dennis Bisnette. “Of course, we had some that did not show up. But it just seems to be getting bigger and bigger every year.”

Bisnette credits the U.S. Forest Service and volunteers with helping to get the Longleaf Horse Trail in shape for this year’s event.

“The trails were not open until August, so we were not even sure we would get this one in this year,” he said. “There were a lot of trees blown down during Katrina. The forest service cooperated with us and we got the trails open.

“About two months ago, we started running through and making sure debris was off of the trail. We started marking the trail with about 1/4 mile of tape, trying to keep everyone on course and hope that no one gets lost.”

Bisnette believes the run continues to gain popularity because people are looking to run distances longer than a marathon and they are coming to trail running.

“People are just learning more about it,” he said. “The average age for the last several years for trail running was in the 50s. Now, we are down to about 43. Some of the younger people are getting into this.

“Typically, you don’t start these until you get older. This type of run is a bit more relaxed. You can walk a little bit and talk a lot when you do these runs. “

Bisnette said several families, including the Touchstone family, volunteers and local runners are involved with putting on the run. And South Central Regional Medical Center is a major sponsor, helping out with the pre-race meal, which was held at the Laurel Train Depot on Friday night.

Holding the run in the middle of the Desoto National Forest can present some logistics problems. But Bisnette and the volunteers are able to make the run happen.

“There is no electricity or water out here,” he said. “We have to truck water and ice in and it’s six or seven miles to the nearest store. It’s kind of hard to deal with it.

“We will probably use around 350 gallons of water and 46 bags of ice this year. I think we used 270 gallons of water the last time.”

There were 47 runners in the first race in 1996. With the growth to over 200 runners this year, just what does the future hold for the Mississippi Trail 50?

“We hope to keep on doing this,” said Bisnette. “I expect we will try to allow some more runners next year. Once we see how many we can handle, we will go from there.”