The How, Why, and True Reason for the Naming of the Charlie-Horse

by Charlie Crowell

I started running in the 1980s, going to local races through the 1990s with the realization early on that I enjoyed trail running over road courses. I trained and ran at home on the Horse-Shoe Trail, doing short out-and-back runs, but thought a point-to-point run would be more interesting. My favorite run was from from Hopewell Furnace at the Chester County line to Plowville which was approximately 17 miles. My Dad, a great hiker of the Horse-Shoe and many other trails, would drop me off. There I was, all alone, with a couple of water bottles, a power bar, no aid stations, and no cell phone. There was no other option but to make it home.

In the Spring of 1997, I went to New York and did Ed Hart’s “Make Your Mother Proud.”  
This was a point-to-point ultra trail run with a one-way ride in an old Greyhound bus somewhere out in the Finger Lakes. In September of 1997, I did the Conestoga Trail Run, first of twenty. This was similar to Ed Hart’s, but with school buses and only ten miles instead of thirty.

Another interest I enjoyed during this time was coaching Special Olympic athletes, year round in all sports. I did this for thirteen years with a ten-year tenure as head basketball coach. All Special Olympic sports were at no cost to the athletes and so there was always a need for funds for equipment, uniforms, venues to practice, and many other things. A light bulb went off – a fund raiser for Berks County Special Olympics!

I had a favorite run on a good trail with no roads (that changed).  Shorten the distance a little. Find a start and finish. My neighbor is the school bus contractor for Twin Valley School District. We had a great cause. Let’s do a trail run. No problem!

I kind of knew everything that had to be done, so in the Fall of 1997, I planned a trail run with a small group consisting of relatives, friends, and Pagoda Pacers, to try out the course, explain what I had in mind, and see if they had any suggestions. Mike and Denise Yoder were the Pagoda Pacers who joined us that day.  On a warm Saturday morning, we ran from French Creek to Sleepy Hollow, and then back to my home in Plowville. After a good run, we gathered around outside to talk, come up with some final plans, and drink some cold Yuenglings. Just as we started, someone in the group doubled over, yelling out in pain with a major leg cramp. Denise calmly said, “You have a Charlie-Horse!” I immediately said, “That’s it. We’ll name the race The Charlie-Horse.”
That was the final missing piece we needed: a name.

People often ask me if I ever got a chance to run the race. The answer is yes; I ran the 8th, 9th and 23rd Charlie-Horses and finished in first place over all. For the rest of this story, you’re going to have to wait for the movie to come out.

I have always enjoyed running with the Pagoda Pacers and now enjoy volunteering at their events.

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