If you’re going to run the entirety of South Carolina following U.S. Highway 21, you might as well start up above Rock Hill and end your week-long journey in Beaufort, the pot at the end of the proverbial rainbow. If you’re Maggie Seymour, the former active-duty and current reservist Marine who ran that exact route at the beginning of March, you also might as well end that Beaufort-specific run on the Spanish Moss Trail.
“I knew I wanted to end at Port Royal, where the trail ends, and wanted to run through the capital, so I chose a direct route from north to south,” said Seymour. “I always get an energy boost running through cities, but as a small town girl, I love seeing the uniqueness and common threads of the rural villages that dot each state.”
For Seymour, it’s all part of a master plan to run the length of all 50 states, inspired by a transcontinental run across the breadth of America she completed in 2017. She started with South Carolina for this, however, because it’s her current haven, though the native Midwesterner readily admits her love of the Lowcountry came slowly.
Moving here to finish her dissertation for Old Dominion University, she enjoyed the peace and quiet the area offered as a restful spot to recover from her transcontinental run. It wasn’t long after she moved that she also realized she needed to get back into running “off-road” and in nature, which led her to the Spanish Moss Trail.
“Through some Pat Conroy audiobooks and a few miles around the area, I fell in reluctant love with South Carolina,” said Seymour. “I didn’t have a lot of friends in the area and didn’t get out much, so it was refreshing to be out on the pavement with other runners, walkers, and bikers.”
That renewal of spirit may have helped in the renewal of body as well, as the struggle to get back into daily running after the long transcontinental run was all too real. Sometimes it’s not just the years, it’s the mileage.
“It took everything I had to even get out on the road, knowing I would be facing frustration,” said Seymour.
The trail, with foliage covering even the most brutal summer sun and access points all along, was “perfect for getting back into running” for Seymour. It’s no wonder, then, that she chose the Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail to be the recipient of charitable funds from sponsors and donors covering her run through the state.
“It’s a really good use of funds with the trail because you can see how the trail expands throughout the community and brings it together,” she said.
Like all good races, she’s hoping additional funds will also help begin the race to complete the trail’s connector to the Waterfront Park, despite any reservations.
While our tangible local trail finished her route, her expedition through the state took her through other trails in wonderful places, like Lancaster and Lexington and Lugoff, even if she saved the Lowcountry for last. Averaging nearly 30 miles a day, her waves to passersby were mostly met with smiles and sometimes offers of rides. By her third day, she was already in Columbia and past the point of accepting the Uber most of us would have arranged miles before.
Spanish Moss Trail
Even if it was, in her words, “nice to come home to a familiar place,” it was also undoubtedly pleasant to find that at other stops along the route, “the less affluent neighborhoods usually have the kindest people.”
There are more trails to come, too, as she’ll soon trek the coastal line in Georgia before heading on to routes in other states, and sweating for other charities, including Massachusetts, Washington and Oregon. There will be other worthy charities to sweat it out for, too, but we can appreciate the early-spring journey that started here among us.
“Trails literally and figuratively connect communities and I love the history and story behind the Spanish Moss Trail — turning an old railway to a community trail is just too poetic,” said Seymour.
Soon, maybe, Beaufort’s trail will become just another stanza in the epic poem of her life.