This is a fun little 8-mile run if you and your quads are locked in a death-feud. The starting line is at a pastoral grassy spot near the shore at Liberty Lake Regional Park. Apparently this location was chosen, I can only guess, to give a delusion of upcoming peace and enjoyment.

Congenial Trail Maniacs Race Director Dave Dutro alternates directions for the loop every year, since the two major climbs have distinct personalities. This year’s course will run clockwise. You start (and end) with a flat two-mile stretch that seduces you into thinking you weren’t so foolhardy for getting up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday. Then it starts going up. And up. And up a gorgeous rainforest single-track amid one of the Spokane area’s last stands of old-growth Cedars, along and across a stream in full spring runoff. And switchbacks. Oh, the switchbacks. This is mountain trail running on a smaller scale, close to home. It’s also the point at which you wonder how tortuous and season-ending it would be to break an ankle or knee-cap and have to hobble down to the parking lot.

A single aid station near the peak at mile 4.2 miles provides a chance to stock up on calories and liquids. Cheers from the volunteers almost drown out the curses coming from your muscles and lungs. Then you’re over the edge and heading back down the relative relief of the Edith Hansen trail. You and your quads may have made peace, but it doesn’t mean there’s still blood flow. By the time the trail gradually levels off to the final 2-mile flat stretch, you’ve decided you and your quads aren’t friends after all; and if they’re going to be so ornery, you’ll just have to beat them into submission.

The payoff? Pancakes and sausages, just like you could’ve had if you’d stayed home. Only here you get to eat them with other happy trail warriors flushed with the thrill of accomplishment, and wash them down with beverages you’d usually drink on the patio while basking in the afternoon sun. But hey, you earned it. Just ask your quads. Info at Trailmaniacs.com. //