Day 42.

Day 42 - Brentwood, TN, to Mammoth Cave National Park, KY, to Brentwood, TN

Run - Sal Hollow & Buffalo Creek Loop Trail, Mammoth Cave National Park, KY

From the eyes of Nico "Spider-Whacker" Ericksen-Deriso

Today, you should consider yourself very privileged, for if you keep on reading, you will learn the keys to becoming a spider-whacking extraordinaire.


The Three-Step Process To Master Spider-Whacking:

1.         Ensure the trail is suitable for practice. This is a relatively easy step to complete. You simply must run down the trail that you have chosen for about a mile. If, within this first mile, you have been hit by three spider webs within a five-minute period, you will know you have found an adequate trail on which to hone your skills. You should feel these webs wrap their tendrils around your body as you run. Ideally, at least one of these first three webs will be at head height and will get caught around your mouth, nose, or eyes. Conversely, if you have not encountered any spider webs within the first mile of your run (or have encountered very few), your trail is not suitable for practice. At this point, it is recommended that you turn around and seek out a more overgrown trail to practice on. (EXPERT TIP: The South and Midwest are two of the best regions in the United States to practice spider-whacking. If you are looking for a beginner trail, I would recommend the Bell Springs Tract of the Florida Trail. Spiders here are uncomfortably large and highly visible, allowing for targeted practice for those who have yet to master the nuance of the skill. However, if you are looking for an expert trail, my personal favorite is Sal Hollow in Mammoth Cave National Park. While the spiders here are smaller, webs are intricate, frequent, and extremely sticky. This trail WILL push you to your spider-whacking boundaries.)

2.         Encounter a spider-whacking weapon. It is critical that you STOP IMMEDIATELY upon encountering your third spider web. At this point, train your focus on the ground and search for your spider-whacking weapon (colloquially known as a “big stick”). This weapon should be longer than you are tall, as well as reasonably thin and not too heavy. Ideally, your weapon will extend straight for a few feet before curving sharply (think the Grim Reaper’s scythe) for roughly half of your height.

3.         Begin your spider-whacking adventure. Place your spider-whacking weapon in your dominant hand, with the end curving upward towards the sky. Attempt to position the tip of the weapon at head height. You may now resume running, letting your weapon bob up and down in front of you with the natural cadence of your arm. If done correctly, your weapon will break down all webs above shin-height before you run into them, allowing for a successful and smooth run. At the end of your run, your weapon should look similar to the drumsticks from Shrek. (EXPERT TIP: Run with a friend. Trading off spider-whacking duties will not only allow you to rest your arm every couple of miles, but will also allow you to center yourself and lower the elevated heart rate that comes with constant encounters with spiders. Your friend can also periodically check your back to ensure that no spiders are hanging out there.)


Important DO’s and DON’T’s:

DO be prepared to have numerous broken spider webs wrap across your legs, arms, torso, and head. (EXPERT TIP: If you have the mental resilience to resist pulling webs off of your chest and arms every mile, the spider silk can be harvested at the end of your run and sold for profit.)

DON’T trip and fall forward onto the ground. You will likely break the curved part of your weapon in the fall, rendering your weapon significantly less useful.

DON’T be afraid to swallow a few spiders, especially after breaking your weapon.

DO scream when horseflies get trapped in the web that encompasses your beard after a few miles on the trail. While the buzzing beast burrowed in your beard is also likely scared of being trapped, the gravity of the situation calls for an instinctual, childish yelp and dance.


And there you have it, the secrets to becoming an extraordinary spider-whacker like myself. If you have questions and/or concerns, I can be reached at Additionally, private lessons ARE available, however, proof of donation to is necessary before you will receive any reply.

Good luck on your spider-whacking adventures!


Facts/stats of the day: 

Miles driven: 227

Miles run: 31.8

Elevation gained (feet): 2307

Spiderwebs encountered: 87

Cure Alzheimer's Fund research grants distributed (2016): $13.5 million

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