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‘No small accomplishment’: Five Sykesville girls complete marathon-style hike through community

(From L to R) Sarah Forman, Harli Hamlett, Natalie Mattox and Emily Rutledge and Kelsey Cass hiked 26 miles on Monday.
(From L to R) Sarah Forman, Harli Hamlett, Natalie Mattox and Emily Rutledge and Kelsey Cass hiked 26 miles on Monday.

A group of five girls from Sykesville embarked on a social distancing marathon-style hike outside of their neighborhood on Monday, adventuring in and around surrounding areas of Sykesville and Eldersburg.

Kelsey Cass, Sarah Forman, Harli Hamlett, Natalie Mattox and Emily Rutledge are all eighth grade students at Sykesville Middle School. They live in the same development and have been quarantined in their respective homes since March 30, in accordance with Gov. Larry Hogan’s “stay-at-home” order set in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The girls left their homes shortly before 8 a.m. and did not return home until 6:30 that evening, totaling about 26 miles.

“At the beginning, it was really fun, even though it was really early in the morning,” Hamlett said. “We didn’t complain at all once we started, but when we got to mile 17, that’s when things started to hurt.”

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“We didn’t really know where we were going, but by the end of it, we were happy to be done.”

The girls walked through Piney Run Park from the southern part of the county in Sykesville up to Eldersburg and stopped for a lunch break at Cass’ grandparents’ house. They trekked White Rock Road, continued on Obrecht Road, and repeated a lot of the same ground on their 10-hour adventure as well.

Mattox said she spotted a dead snake on their journey and the girls passed the time by engaging in lighthearted conversation and listening to music through a speaker.

Rutledge’s father, Jeff, said the girls thought of this idea on their own and did not need any encouragement from their parents to move forward with it.

“It’s good to see the girls get out of the house and do something beyond the quarantine,” Rutledge said. “They are very athletic — not that that means anything — but they’re very competitive and they all play team sports with a competitive spirit, so it’s good to see them do that.

“Twenty-six miles is no small accomplishment to do something like that.”

The girls have known each other from attending school together and years of playing soccer, basketball and lacrosse. They all play for the Freedom Soccer Club and Emily Rutledge and Hamlett play for Freedom’s travel basketball league as well.

They also play for the Hero’s Tournament Lacrosse Club, based in Howard County.

“Based on what I’ve heard them say, they thought about giving up, but that’s the thing,” Jeff Rutledge said, "they continued to push each other.”

Mattox said completing the hike meant a lot to the girls because their family and friends had a hard time believing they could actually complete the 26-mile marathon hike. They experienced blisters and some soreness by the end of the trek and Hamlett said the group has exchanged jokes about doing something similar again, but nothing has been set in stone.

The group has kept in close contact during the quarantine using outlets such as FaceTime and Zoom to chat face-to-face and they practice social distancing when communicating outside in their neighborhood.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do it with two people,” Mattox added. “It was good to do it with a group.”

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