Javelina 100, or something like that

Start/finish

 

I have not stopped running, just have not had time to post recently. So here is  my latest adventure.
The Javelina 100 Mile and 100K course is an amazing experience that has you literally running circles in the beautiful Arizona desert.  But don’t be fooled by the lack of mountains. The heat and rocky terrain will wear you down, and might even wear you out.

It is a well-organized race staffed by experienced runners and volunteers. But most important to me it provides a unique opportunity to see friends from past trails and an opportunity to make new friends at the biggest moving Halloween Party imaginable.

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Paul Giblin, played the part superbly of the race’s winner.

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Energetic Belinda Agamaite running the 100 miles. She is so full of energy.  We are having a camera duel!

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I believe this is Selema Nordberg, along with yours truly, casting an “Ear shadows” on trail

Shoe shoipping with Karstan

78 year YOUNG, Karsten Solheim, shoe shopping.

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Ann Trason opening her wings to me.

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Gordy in Costume

 

 

 

 

Gordy showing his first bobo.

Gordy showing his first bobo.

 

 

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The Western States Trail running pioneer, and living legend, Gordy Ainsleigh, after his fall on lap 2 and showing his new injuries to his head, on lapse 4.

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Karl “SpeedGoat” Metzler chasing ghosts all day, finishing 6th overall.

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Jennifer Dicus, looking great at the start.

 

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A great runner and VHTRC alumni, David Snipe.

 

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Lisa Kravetz —-showing off her new 100 mile belt buckle.

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Susie Kramer, still looking beautiful after pacing Lisa Kravetz  through the night

 

 

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And the beautiful Queen of the Halloween Ball, Catra Corbett, dressed for the occasion.

My race ended much sooner than I had hoped. After mile 16, I was plagued with too many unexpected bathroom breaks; my body was dehydrated and I felt worn out. Food and fluids left me almost as soon as I took them in. (And yes, I packed all my TP out with me!)  After 48 miles, I stood talking at the aid station, trying to get some food and fluids in me for about half an hour, until I need to run to the bathroom again. I knew then that the only energy I had left was for that sprint to the bathroom. I could not go out into the dark and try to run again.

I covered 48 miles in 11:07. (5:07 PM) I checked out by crossing the start/finish matt at around 11:43.

It took me awhile to get my stomach settled and diarrhea under some control. By 2:00 AM, my stomach was feeling much better and I wished I still was in the event. I would love to have gone out for one more lap! I still had time…..

So the Cardiac Cripple had a fantastic weekend, although miserably disappointing run. And who knows, I might recover and soon find myself in another long run. I hope you had a great adventure, too.

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Conococheague 50K Trail Run-2015

  The Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club presents the Conococheague 50K Trail Run

On Saturday, August 8, runners from 4 states gathered for the third Conococheague 50K Trail Run, held in the Tuscarora State Forest, Perry County.

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Chris Schauerman and Judith Weber making the climb up Big Round Top.

The course uses a combination of rock covered single track trails, rock covered ancient railroad beds, forest service roads, and a few limited access utility roads, to help break up the run. And to help the runners find muscles they had forgotten, we have incorporated a few climbs that have a cumulative gain of over 5000 feet. The most memorable, or forgettable for some, is the Big Round Top Trail, which goes almost straight up to an historic graveyard.

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Elevation-profile-for-Conococheague-50K

tuscarora trail

Tom Keeper looked down and said “STEEP”!

The race has 3 manned aid stations and one unmanned, water only station. The aid stations are well stocked by donations from the runners and have just about everything a runner might desire. And then the runners are treated to a picnic after their run.

Hemlock Road Aid station

Hemlock Road Aid station

Occasionally the race director dresses in wild shorts. Sometimes a runner tries to one up him. It was close, but Clayton didn’t get there yet.

Clayton Bouchard and his ‘s fantastic shorts. On his way to a first place finish.

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These beautiful women were volunteers who manned several aid stations and swept the trail. Sometimes it pays to be last!

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Young Mel Fager, with Megan and Ashley manning Big Round Top Aid Station.

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Sharon Fager coming up Tuscarora Trail, still smiling!

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Alicia Hare looking for a grave.

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Todd Miller, Jenn Newcomer and Chantel Bouchard hiking down the road

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Recovery at the Hemlock Rd Aid station

Recovery at the Hemlock Rd Aid station

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Carol and Michael, recovering from a wrong turn.

 

The race does not offer a shirt, or other bling, just simply a nice free run with other runners, some critters, on a well-marked and challenging course.  But the Race Director get some shorts! He talked the pants of Clayton and will be wearing his shorts in his next race. I am just hoping some of the speed Clayton possesses come with them.

Local speedsters, Kevin Koch and Frank Leiter chased Clayton almost all day.

Local speedsters, Kevin Koch and Frank Leiter chased Clayton almost all day.

The only awards are for the best nature photos taken, and anyone, including the volunteers can win one of those prizes. That top prize was awarded to Alicia Hare.  At this race, it was the tail of a yellow phase rattlesnake.  IMG_2170

I want to thank all the wonderful volunteers that came out to help me clear and mark trail, man the aid stations and be sweeps. A special thank you to Brian McPhearson for his help on the two big climbs.  I also need to thank the Department of Conservation and Natural Resource’s staff at the Blain office, (Wyonna Bitting, David Aurand, Andy Baker, Steve Schaffer), and the Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club, for making this run possible.

Tom still sleeping

Sometimes it is better just to go to sleep, and hope it was all a bad dream. Tom Keeper resting after his amazing finish!

Results for HARRC’s CONOCOCHEAGUE 50K Trail Run-
8-Aug-15

I also list other distance covered by runners who opted for a different training distance. I call this ODR, or Other Distance Ran.

32 miles

Clayton Bouchard 6:20
Frank Leiter 7:15
Kevin Koch 7:15
John Wirth 7:17
Neal Barnaba 7:18
Brian Kane 7:45
Mathew Fafoutis 7:55
Jesse Smith 8:00
Anne Weaver 8:32
Sharon Fager 8:35
Tom Keeper 9:20
Alicia Hare 9:55
Christine Schauerman 9:55
Judith Weber 9:55

29.76 miles

Carol Varano 8:29

22 Miles

Shannon Kraus 5:30
Paul Moretz 5:40
Jamie Clark 5:50
Michael Womelsdor 6:30
14 miles

Chantel Bouchard 5:45
Jennifer Newcomer 5:45
Todd Miller 5:45

 

 

 

Holy Cowen’s Gap 50K- May 24, 2015

Laura Falsone after first climb

Laura Falsone after first climb

To fill my Memorial Day weekend, I registered to run the Holy Cowen’s Gap 50K, a VHTRC fat ass event that was created and directed by two ladies , Alisa Springman and Sue Malone, who obviously have a sense of humor. The course is designed in two unique loops, passing by the start/ finish at approximately the half way. (The ladies must have designed this fly by as a tease, to see who would drop out after the brutal climbs in the first 15 miles.) The first half has longer climbs and a few sections of trail that are completely grown shut, with no real sign of trail except for a few carefully placed ribbons. The second loop makes up for the shorter climbs by attacking the ascents straight on, going straight up the side of the mountains, and on one climb, by-passing a nicely kept existing trail, to avoid using its much gentler switch backs. Pure evil! :-)

Alicia and me

Alicia and me

I was fortunate to have a friend join me for the run, Alicia Hare, who recently moved to Pennsylvania from Southern California, and is not use to our smooth rock free trails, gentle climbs, (you know I am only kidding about the rock free gentle climbs) lush green trails, or snakes….

Alicia is married to a Marine and as you will see in my picture, she has been stealing his military green running shorts to try to blend into her new surroundings!  :-)

Fang Sr

Fang Sr

This year, race day was cool, with brilliant skies and clear views from the mountains. The normal pests, gnats and deer flies, were absent but horse flies were enjoying snacking on us, and an occasional mosquito and a few tics. And I kept hoping we would see a few snakes or maybe a rattlesnake.  And then, out of nowhere …and just past the 21 mile point, we met with Fang SR. I scared him as I ran down a steep trail. He was laying across the rocky trail and instantly coiled and rattled. He was so pretty!
I say he, but I actually think this was a pregnant female because of her thickness. Either way, it was great seeing it and it was the first time Alicia had seen a rattlesnake.

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Judith Weber in the shadows on top the mountain

As we ran, we visited with many others runners, as they passed us, going forward, or coming back past us as they were heading home. We really had a great day, with no bonks and actually ran the last 3 miles very strong.

When we finished, we were treated to a nice cookout and loads of burgers and other food, topped off with great people and friends.

Alicia, me and Alisa
Alicia, me and Alisa

I am already looking forward to next year’s run. Thanks everyone who made the run possible!

I hope you enjoyed the recap of another of  Don’s Grand Adventures and I do hope you had a wonderful adventure too.

Bull Run Run 50 Miler-2015

April 11, 2015

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The day after my 56 birthday I was running the 50 miles that comprises the Bull Run Run, shooting for my 8th finish. This nice trail in northern Virginia has everything a trail runner likes-rolling hills, a few rocks, roots, and some slippery mud that seems to pop up everywhere, to make the rocks and roots even more exciting.

This year I was running on a team that was formed by Katie Raezer-Wolf, in honor of Donna Metz Mumert, who died in 2014 of ALS. She ran BRR with me several years ago. BRR was her only 50 mile race and she loved it. Our other team members were Aimee Harmon and Bob Bergman.

I had hoped to break 11 hours at the run. I have run BRR as fast as 9 hours 46 minutes, but that was a number of years ago. Gary Knipling told me my old friend, Dave Yeakel was gunning for me and I was worried that I would need to run fast to beat him. But then again, I forgot we both have been having birthdays…and some other health issues.

Within the first 16 miles, there is an out and back section that allows you to see the lead runners, as they come screaming back past. It is also the area that allows you a chance to see your competitors and judge how they are doing. I saw the legendary Gary Knipling (Age 71) running strong, several minutes ahead of me. I also had a chance to see Dave Yeakel, who was approximately 4 minutes ahead of me and several minutes ahead of Gary.

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Katie Raezer with the legendary Tom Green on right

As I ran on, I caught up with the legendary Tom Green. Tom was the original, the First Grand Slammer, and it was such a pleasure and honor to get to run with him for a few miles.

I ran  alone for many of the miles. It wasn’t that I couldn’t find someone to run with, I was just enjoying the day too much and just was enjoying watching everything around me.  And I was running steady, gliding the hills. As I entered the aid station for the Do loop, I saw Dave’s girlfriend, Cathy, who gave me a hug. Every time I saw her she gave me a hug and I swear I ran a little better afterwards. I saw  young friend,  Elena Bragg, who was helping at the Do Loop Aid station. I even had a chance to run with her when she went for a short run with a runner. The world is a small place. Elena’s aunt use to work with me in Pennsylvania.

 

I ran the Do Loop very well, passing a few runners on the loop. Just before I was to leave the loop and arrive at the aid station I spotted Gary and caught up with him. I was feeling strong and I tried to steal his bikini bottoms from him, but although his feet were not as quick as mine, his hands were and he pulled them away.

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Grand Slammer Gary Knipling

 

I left the Do Loop and was moving well. I went through the next two aid stations quickly, running alone. When I went through Shaul Gap, I saw Cathy again and she told me Dave was only a few minutes ahead, and gave me a hug. :-) Poor Dave. Little did he know I was just refueled and it was all over for him. I ran the next 4miles with purpose, fueled by Cathy’s hug, chasing down my friend. When I arrived at the Marina aid station, I was disappointed I had not caught him yet, and then, all of a sudden, there he was, getting ready to leave. And I said Hi.  Dave looked and said “Hey, you aren’t supposed to be here.” Dave left and after filling my water bottle for the last time, I chased after him. It took me a little more than a mile to catch him, and when I did, we talked a few minutes.

Dave Yeakle
Dave Yeakle

Our rivalry is completely pretend. We are friends. Dave is recovering from a hip operation and I am the Cardiac Cripple, a nick name he used in 2010, when we ran the BRR together after my heart attack and surgery. We race only ourselves, not each other.

 

Friendships and memories are made on the BRR trail. The years, our ages, and our injuries can’t take those feelings and memories away.
I said goodbye to my friend and pushed to the finish.   I had finished the BRR for my 8th time.

And life is good.

 

Thank you for joining me on another of Don’s Grand Adventures. I hope you had a great weekend and a grand adventure, too.

 

HARRC’s Tuscarora Trails Ultra 50K, March 28, 2015

 

On March 28, 40 runners arrived at Big Spring Picnic Area, in the far western Perry County,  PA.  to run the Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club’s Tuscarora Trails Ultra  50K.  This is a free event, but all runners must register in advance and are required to bring a donation for the aid stations.

Almost start time
The starting area

 

It was a  freezing spring morning  temperatures only around 20F. The skies were threatening, but leaking only snow flurries on the anxios runners.

The course is about 50/50 trail/forest service  roads, with about 4500 feet of climb, with some great trails, some good shoe sucking mud and some extrodinary rocks! And then it snowed.

 

Clayton Boucher, last year’s defending champ returned, along with several other speedsters.

The speedsters hitting a flock of flamingos

The speedsters hitting a flock of flamingos

Clayton flying down Hemlock Road

Clayton flying down Hemlock Road

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Ultra legend Gary Lukacs

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The RD sandwitched between Gary Knipling and Gary Lukacs

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Shawn Eakins, before he went lost!

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Terri Sanchez and Mark Maurer after sweeping a section of the trail

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Cindy Cohen finishing a3 mile climb.

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Karl Barrus after finishing.

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Rick Knepp, on right, talking with Mike Coale, who was taking a break from his run.

But speed is not what this run is about. We have no awards, except for best wildlife photo, we have no first, second places, and most important, NO DNF’s. Anyone not completing the entire 31 miles is still listed in the results with their approximate distance ran. I refer this distants as a ODR, Other Distance Ran. If you have ever tried running any of my races you would understand. They are difficult, some would just say HARD. And there is no shame in calling it a day if things are not working for you.

Corey Dubil  at the first aid station

Corey Dubil at the first aid station

Alicia Hebert helping out

Alicia Hebert helping out

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Brian Carr and Dave Herring

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And my old friend Amy Gibson, who I met in her first half marathon

I am so fortunate to  have extrodinary volunteers, like Rick Knepp, and his group from the Susquenitia High School who run one of the major aid stations, Ron Shields, from the Perry County Road Runners who helped me mark trail and help record runners in to the aid stations, Jen Henry and her family who ran the aid station on top of the snow covered mountain,  Alicia Hebert and Tonya Nace, Asheighly Carr, who assisted me all day, Alicia Hare and Mary DiMagio who helped with trail work,Cassie Lizza, Jim Kreiser, Ann Wright and her friend Chris, Brian McPherson, Terri Sanchez and Mark Maurer who were sweeps.  If I forgot anyone, I am sorry. But I didn’t forget the key person on the volunteer list, Melanie Halke, who coordinates the race day sign in, checks you off when you finish, and most importsant, runs the kitchen at the finish.

Melanie, Ashleigh Carr, and Cassie Lizza

Melanie, Ashleigh Carr, and Cassie Lizza

 

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Jim Keiser, after he finished a sweep

 

So Don had another Grand Adventure and I hope everyone else that participated in this event did as well. Thanks for allowing me to share in it with you…And now the results:

Miles Ran Finish Time
Josh Litofsky 31 4:40
Ian Grettenberger 31 4:47
Matt Pennington 31 5:05
Clayton Bouchard 31 + 5:09
Cole Larson-Whittaker 31 5:17
Adam Murak 31 5:40
Randy Yasenchak 31 6:08
Jesse Smith 31 6:15
Craig Murphy 31+ 6:30
Chris Janovich 31 6:40
Dave Herring 31 6:45
Brian Carr 31+ 6:45
Amy Gibson 31+ 6:57
Zach Geiple 31 6:58
Paul Moretz 31 7:09
Shawn Krause 31 7:09
Karen Sandt 31 7:21
Blake Cohen 31 7:28
Corey Dubil 31 7:30
Japhy Czysz 31 7:36
Gary Knipling 31 7:38
Katie Raezer 31 7:39
Gary Lukacs 31 7:41
Paul Crickard 31 8:48
Alan Lagon 31 8:48
Michael Coale 31 8:54
Shawn Eakins 31 8:54
Karl Barrus 31 9:14
Cindy Cohen 31 9:15
Anne Weaver 23 5:30
Kristen Mam 23 5:37
Marcia Peters 23 6:00
Brian McNeill 23 6:00
Diana Rapp 23 6:10
Carli Moua 23 6:45
Vanessa Chamberlain 23 6:45
Alicia Hare 20 6:05
Brian Rainey 15.5 4:30
Danielle Diantoniis 15.5 4:30
Jeff Shetler 14 3:00

 

 

Old Pueblo 50 Mile Run and so much fun

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Dave Hardwick, at one of the gates for the Arizona Trail

A great friend and runner Dave Hardwick, invited me to join him on a challenging and remote 50 mile run through the Santa Rita Mountains.  Dave and I first met at the 2004 Boston Marathon and I have found his sense of adventure to be just as creative as mine, even though he is 20 years older, and after you read this story you might say he is “wiser”, too.

The Old Pueblo is held about 1.5 hours from Tucson. Many of the trails and roads lead to ghost towns, reminding us of the gold mining history that attracted settlers to the area.

I am going to tease Dave a lot in this blog. It seems he must have been suffering some sort of “OLD Timers”, experiencing selective memory loss.  He told me we would be running on old mining roads, forest service roads, and sections of the historic Arizona Trail. But Dave forgot to tell me several important things. The mining roads were more suited for mules, not runners, and were wild and rocky. If the roads were not covered in rocks, they were deeply rutted and steep!   And I was introduced to a new term an “arroyo”, a dry creek bed. My definition for an arroyo is “another unpleasant running surface.”

Dave forgot to mention the bonus miles that seemed to have a special connection to those the little climbs. The course is actually 52 miles long with over 7500 in elevation gain with most of the course ranging between 4100 and 5800 feet. And the last, and maybe the most important thing Dave forgot to mention was after he did a practice run on the course he had decided not to run it and deal with all of those rocks!

So now to the race:
Dave and his wife, Lada were wintering in a beautiful ranch near Patagonia AZ, near the race start/finish. Dave invited me to stay at the ranch, near Kentucky Camp, another ghost town that served as the start/finish location.

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were I stayed

So my trip began on Thursday March 5. I made my escape just ahead of a major snow storm. I arrived in Tucson and Dave picked me up and we drove to Kentucky Camp to see if we could help the race director set up at the start finish. Oh, and Dave forgot to tell me “They needed several ditches dug”.

Kentucky Camp:  Joe, Gary and Lynda preparing the start/finish

Kentucky Camp: Joe, Gary and Lynda preparing the start/finish

Joe Dana, Lynda Hendricks (Race Director) and Gary Parcher were there working alone when we arrived, with almost everything already done. We did help them bury some cable, but the credit for so much of the work belongs to those nice people who work hard to create a wonderful event.

On Friday, Dave gave me quick tour of Nogales and its charming little museum. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet this darling woman, Sigrid Matrejean. This little gray haired lady had more energy than some people I know who are half her age. Sigrid shared a wealth of local history, including intimate details only a long time resident would know. If Sigrid ever tires of working at the Museum, the town needs to use her to promote tourism!

From the museum, you can see the Mexican flag flying on Mexico’s side of the border, which is only about a block away. While so close to the border, we enjoyed in an authentic Mexican meal.

Saturday, Race Day: Dave was helping at registration and needed to be at the start an hour early, so with special permission, I began my race an hour early, 5:00AM.

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Morning of the start

It was dark, and the course started on a forest service road going uphill several hundred feet. My plan was to go easy, try to keep my heart rate under control since we were above 5000 feet, and enjoy the coolness until the sun came up. The temps in Pennsylvania had not prepared me for the sunny skies and mid 70’s Arizona was providing.

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Sunrise over the Arizona Trail

 

At 3 miles I passed the first aid station that was just starting to be set up in the pre-dawn darkness. I then climbed on the historic Arizona Trail. It was a nice trail, with runnable sections and rocky sections with rolling climbs and docents.

 

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California Gulch Mile 7 and 29

The two lead runners caught me at 2 hours 6 minutes into my run. A second pair of young, lanky runners came up on me and as I turned, I saw one man wearing a Penn State track and field shirt. I yelled “WE are” and received an enthusiastic correct response “Penn State”!

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Runner on the right , wearing a PSU Track and Field shirt

It was comforting that the PSU bond can be found even in the remote mountains of Arizona.

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Wasp Canyon-Mile 13

My time alone was ending, as the young speeder runners began to catch and pass me. And then, a little after 13 miles, I took a wrong turn and added an extra climb and about a mile to my race. Just past 13 miles, I began a long climb up a mountain, on a mining road. I looked back and saw I was about to be passed by the legendary ultra-runner, Pam Reed.

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Passed by Pam Reed, on right.

Once I reached the top, I was able to see the carnage that we were to run down. The mining road looked as if it was mined itself, with rocks, large rocks, covering it for at least a mile. As I was running this mine field, I tripped and drew blood on my leg, hurt my knee and ankle, worst of all, bruised both my feet. My consolation was I still had my teeth!

 

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Rocky Roads- on my way to a fall

I slowly resumed my run, but felt my foot swelling, then the other seemed to swell too. I had bruised both feet and soon developed hot spots. At the 20 mile aid station and asked if they had duct tape. They did. A pedestrian was watching me wrap the tape around my foot to trying to cover the now open blisters. He asked what I thought I was doing. I told him I was fixing my blisters so I could get running again. . He laughed at me and then said, “OH, I thought you were dropping, after seeing those feet!” Then he asked how I was going to get that stuff off my feet. And laughed again at me.

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Helvetia Station-mile 19

I left the 20 mile aid station knowing I had a long climb coming up. What I didn’t know it was on a well groomed forest road which made the hike/run easier!

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Aid Station at Box Canyon-Mile 25

The climb goes on for 7 miles and reaches almost 5800 in elevation. It will catch your attention and will take your breath away. And along this section, I met Courtney. We visited for a few minutes, would leap frog each other, but entered the 29 mile aid station together. Soon we returned on the Arizona Trail, Courtney pulled away from me with a strong uphill surge.

At the Mile 33 aid station, Dave was waiting to greet me. He told me I looked great. I was feeling pretty good too.

Granite Mountain Aid Station with  Dave and Cortney

Granite Mountain Aid Station with Dave and Cortney

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Panning for gold along our path

I took off, hoping I would still break 12 hours. Then the heat of the afternoon  began to bother me. I was feeling tired and tried to increase my hydration. I had a GU at each aid station and once in between. I was drinking electrolyte drink at the aid stations. Yet I still felt like I was crashing. I went through the next aid station and knew there was another big climb. I was struggling to run, even on the flats. And then a serious climb to 5800 feet on a technical single track began.

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More rocky trail

Once on the summit I knew I should be able to guide down the trail to the last aid station and then the finish.  Only one problem:  I wasn’t feeling very strong, my blisters were terrible, and my stomach began to rebel.

The evening before the race, Dave and I watched the movie, The Judge.  Robert Downy Jr. was playing the part of an attorney coaching a younger attorney, including tips on how to “vomit” when the court room stress shakes your nerves, with the goal to avoid getting splattered. “Never on the sidewalk, always in the grass” he repeated! These words kept coming to my mind, as I looked for a soft place to spew the Oreos,   Gu, that included a slight purple tint from the electro light drink I had enjoyed at an earlier aid station. It was disgusting and it happened several times.  And then I slowly returned to life and got back into something resembling running.

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Gardner Canyon Aid Station-Mile 47

I came to the last aid station, and lucked out, they had soup. I had a quick cup and was off and actually was running again. I headed for the last climb and enjoyed the view from the ridgeline, whenever I could look up from my feet. The course was littered with rock! IMG_0811

We quickly dropped down and followed the Arizona Trail through several gates and back to Kentucky Camp.

Dave, Joe, Lynne and Gary were there to greet me, as well as a few familiar faces from the day’s race.

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Pam Reed and me at the finish

I introduced Dave to Pam Reed, who continues to amaze me with her consistence and endurance.  When I told Pam how old Dave is, she told him she thought he was only in his 60’s. She even invited to come run the marathon she directs, as her guest.

I bet he is still smiling!

Dave may have been a little forgetful about some of the details of this weekend’s run, but he helped me have another “Grand Adventure” and that is something I will not forget.

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Javelina Jundred-The most amazing Halloween party ever!

Gordon Ainsleigh

Gordon Ainsleigh

I wasn’t planning on running another 100 mile race,  but then I was chatting with Gordon Aimsleigh, age 67, on FB and mentioned that this will be the first time since 2003 I will not be in the lottery for the Western States and I so wanted to run that race one more time. Gordy suggested I try Javelina Jundred and told me he was also thinking about running it, since he too needed a 100K or 100mile race to qualify.
After a little consideration, maybe a minute, I said sure and registered. A few weeks later, Gordy inquired about my Halloween Costume, and I wrote back, asking “What costume?” He said for the run, he was going to go as John Medinger, former publisher of Ultra Running, as well as on the WS Board and has many numerous other contributions to running!)  He told me to come up with something to Shock Melanie, my wife, NOT scare her!
Hmmm…what I could I wear?
So after some thought, and a quick reach out to Catra Corbett, it was decided. I would dress like Catra! And when my wife saw me all dolled up, she fell over our bed, laughing and crying for several minutes…
This run was going to be wonderful. And to make this run even more exciting was my young friend, who I affectionately refer to as my “Runner daughter” (Jennifer Cosco) was flying in from San Diego. I quickly touched based with Jen and coordinated our rendezvous.

And we all converged on McDowell Mountain Park, Fountain Hills, Arizona to run a 16 mile loop course in the desert north of Phoenix.

And what a blast we had.

I arrived on October 31, Halloween, and drove to the registration site. I needed to pick up the registration packets for Jen and myself, and also decided it was a great opportunity to check out my costume! Catra was coming in from California and told me she would be there by 3, and I wanted some pictures of us together.

Catra, me and her new puppy, Zane

Catra, me and her new puppy, Zane

 

While waiting for the registration to open, I changed into costume, including fake tattoos and several fake body piercings, and of course the running skirt for RunningSkirts.com, Love Pink compression socks and matching sleeves!  And one more thing, the Devil’s Do wig, with red streaks! To add even more accent to my costume, I brought a wiener dog doll for Catra. He looked a little like Truman, but I named him Zane, for Zane Grey. Catra and I ran the Zane Grey 50 in 2006 and spent a lot of time together, even encountering a big bear!

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My friend, Caroline Williams with the Catra imposter

What turned out to be almost too funny, was when Caroline Williams, from the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club saw me from  behind, sitting at a table she began yelling across a patio, “Catra, Catra” and when I turned and recognized her and said “Caroline, her mouth opened and she stuttered..”Don” and nearly fell over! This gave everyone a big laugh!

I also had the chance to visit with Susie Kramer, formerly of Harrisburg, PA. She and her husband Bobby moved to Arizona a few years ago. I am not sure if it was such a good idea, the weather has ben hard on Susies’ complexion, as you can see in this picture with me.

Susie, after a few years in the desert.

Susie, after a few years in the desert.

Some people have all the luck. Susie found herself camping beside Gordy at the start and sent this photo to me. Gordy is wearing some SOARK shorts I sent him as a Christmas present. The man certainly has good taste in ladies and clothing!

Gordy and Susie

Gordy and Susie

 

 

Kim and Bill

Kim and Bill

But one of my greatest surprises was when is aw Bill Vanantwerp and Kim Davidson came into the registration. When Bill saw me, his eyes nearly exploded from his head!

Race morning

Race morning

On race morning I determined I could not wear my costume because it was too warm, about 70F. I wore my more normal running attire, including shorts that matched Gordy’s!

Jen and I left at 4:30 for what Jen’s phone app indicated to be about a 20 minute drive. Jen had checked the GPS app on her phone and it looked simple.  Well, it turned into a disaster, as the app took us into an otherwise quiet neighborhood, and to a dead end street. I felt bad for Jen, since I could see her stressing since it was her phone’s app that lead us a stray, but that didn’t stop me from doing some pre- dawn teasing of my ‘running daughter” …rehearsing the line I repeated several times that morning, “It Jen’s fault we are late, ” I would tease. Fortunately, we were not the only misdirected runners being led a stray, and even had a police officer drive up to see why all the cars were headed to this sleeping community.

Once we turned around and reprogramed the coordinates into my Garmin, we found ourselves about 30 minutes away from the remote parking area. Once there, we had to wait for a shuttle, for the 10 minute ride to the drop off location. As we walked the short quarter mile dirt path, in the darkness, carrying our drop bags, we were warned that runners were on the course, and we were facing the rush of runners leaving the well lite starting area, heading towards us through the dark.  The race had started with about 30 of us still not near the start!
As the runners passed us, we sped to drop our gear where ever we could, and it was not at the designated area, so we could get to the start and begin running. Wow, I needed a pee break already and I hadn’t even crossed the starting line!

And then we were off, running after the pack. Jen and I worked our way up and caught and passed other runners, taking a quick break to capture some photos and off to the first lap.

Thee were many runners in costume, including Bow Peep and something I am not sure what she was, but she was adorable in her costume.

Bow Peep

Bow Peep

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The day started with brilliant clear skies that in the afternoon, would become a little milky, and then broken clouds at night. The course was a looped affair, with runners changing direction on each loop. I met a few new friends and saw some old familiar faces. I could not keep up with my young friend, Jen, and found myself behind her, much of the day.

Jennifer Cline

Jennifer Cline

Along the loops, I saw familiar faces from VHTRC, Caroline Williams, David Snipe, as well as friends from California, Gordy Ainsleigh and Catra Corbett and Jennifer Cline, from Colorado. I also stopped to say hi to the incredible Karsten Solheim still running!

Christie Ebenroth

Christie Ebenroth

I also met a few new friends: Belinda Agaaite, who took some great shots of us along the course,  and Christie Ebenroth who is a mother of 5 and directs races in Idaho with her husband!

I really was being affected by the heat. To a Pennsylvanian, it was hot, to a Phoenix resident, maybe not. And to me the bright sun  was a killer. I was dripping. By the third loop, I had lost a lot of my gusto. I was sweating to the point water was dripping from my cap. Yet, I was still enjoying myself. And then I didn’t like how I felt. My chest was feeling tight; my back began to feel it had a cramp in the center between my shoulder blades and knew my running was over. And I started to walk. I felt ok walking, but did not feel confident I could walk fast enough to make the cutoffs. I continued through the 4th loop, meeting a great guy, Frank, and stayed with him almost the entire 4th loop. But I knew my run was over and retired after the fourth loop, at 62 miles…

I had a great time. I cannot explain my body and will not even try. It is not the same since my heart attack and I know that. When I saw my cardiologist on 11/6/2014 he said I can quote him. “We do not know how you are able to run as far as you do. Keep doing it as long as you can. You will know when you must stop.”
Gordy never stopped and made his qualifier in 29 hours.

Jamil Coury and all the volunteers did a great job presenting a fantastic event.

And thank you Jen for sharing the weekend with this old runner. Each time we go to a 100 mile run, we must remind ourselves to enjoy the outcome, whatever that is, because it may be our last opportunity to compete at this distance and share these times with friends.

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My young friend, Jen Cosco

We are not in control: Lean Horse 50 Miler

 

Saturday August 23-Lean Horse 50

 

A beautiful course

A beautiful course

Life is simple if you understand and accept this one simple thing:  We are NOT in control. We all want to think we are in charge of our lives. But no matter how careful we are, or how well prepared we think we are, when the unexpected happens, its God reminding us that we really control nothing….

Two weeks before the race…
I had to adjust my plans for the 2014 edition of the Lean Horse 100 Mile Run. I hurt my knee two weeks before the race when I fell onto rocks on the Appalachian Trail, during a 36 mile training run.  My knee swelled and I became very frustrated and a bit depressed. To salvage my vacation to South Dakota, the wonderful new race director, Royce Wuertzer, allowed me to transfer out of the 100 and into the 50 mile race. I knew running 50 miles on a questionable knee would be a challenge, but hey, that’s why we run ultras, right?

So here is a glimpse of my Grand Adventure in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

 

Start and finish line

Start and finish line

The 50 mile run begins at 6:00 AM, simultaneously with the 100 mile and 50K runs, starting on the high school track in Custer, South Dakota.

Although the run started on a cushioned track, within the first few meters I realized my knee was still not right. But it was the first I had ran since the fall, a full two weeks,  and it felt great to be out amongst runners, making friends, visiting with friends I had made last year, and most important, moving again.

After looping the track we quickly proceeded to the Mickelson Rail Trail. This is a beautifully groomed rail trail and takes runners past the Chief Crazy Horse Monument, into Hill City and north through beautiful mountain canyons.

The Mickelson trail is not a flat trail, but of a series of raising and falling grades that worked the terrain to allow trains to climb into the Black Hills of South Dakota.

 

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Crazy Horse Monument

The first 4 miles went by quickly, with a steady climb to Mountain Aid Station. Melanie, my wife, met me there and I put my Go Pro chest harness on to carry the camera to captures some pics from the trail. Shortly after leaving the aid station we ran past the entrance to the incredible Crazy Horse monument, being sculpted out of a mountain. We could clearly see it from the trail and many runners stopped to capture a photo or two.

 

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Royce and Jerry Dunn, the race directors

The next few miles of trail descended towards Orville Aid Station (Mile 10.1). There, we were greeted by running legend and founder of the Lean Horse 100 and 50 mile runs,  Jerry Dunn, the original Marathon Man. Jerry has been running and directing runs for years and is widely known for his contributions to the running community.  Jerry cheerfully greeted every runner that came in, and assisted them with their needs, including me. Jerry filled my water bottle as I grabbed some snacks.

 

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Scenes from the trail

After Orville, I headed towards Hill City, and the next aid station. My knee was beginning to annoy me, and I decided I wasn’t talking to it anymore. The Hill City Aid Station (Mile 15.1) is at the town’s abandoned train terminal, which now serves as the town’s trail head. It is a cute building with modern bathroom faculties!  Melanie met me there and offered me some cold coffee.  I was still moving well, but my knee was definitely stiffening!

Runners having fun.

Runners having fun.

I left the aid station with another runner. As we began the long ascent to the High Country Aid Station I began taking walking breaks, trying to get my leg working properly.  I was beginning to be passed by more and more runners. Soon, I felt like I was all alone, except for the occasionally runner whizzing by me.

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By 16 miles my injured knee would not bend. But instead of dropping out of the race, I began skipping. Yes skipping. I think I looked more like a young child galloping on a stick pony, holding my left leg straight, pushing off with my right foot and toes and galloping along. Funny thing was, I was actually moving along at a pretty good “gallop”.

I arrived at High Country Aid Station (mile 19.9) and Melanie went to take a picture of me. I snapped at her to put the camera away. I was still feeling frustrated that I couldn’t run and was in a very bad mood. In my mind, I figured no one needed to see a picture of me “skipping”. I quickly left the aid station, alone, and hurting.

 

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Horse Creek Aid Station

Along the way to the Horse Creek Aid Station and the turn around, I was taking photos with my Go Pro and galloping along, not realizing how fast I was moving and not noticing my leg was beginning to loosen up. By the time I reached Melanie at mile 25, I was actually running again. And then things began to change…. Retracing my steps back towards Custer, I started to feel better and run much better. I was moving well, running well, not bonking, happy again to be on trail, and best of all, passing runners. I saw holly Lange, age 68 and looking GREAT, heading towards the turn around and felt my spirits lift see her! No runner pasted me during the last 25 miles, unless they were going the opposite direction.

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I reached High Country, for the second time (Mile 29.9) and surprised Melanie. She told me she didn’t expect me so quickly.  My mood had improved and I think she noticed.

I didn’t waste any time at the aid station and hurried off towards Hill City. I was still capturing photos along the way, but much less frequently. I was running well and making up a lot of time, passing a few runners and chasing a few more.

 

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View along the trail

 

Osprey in the tree

Osprey in the tree

I came into the Hill City Aid Station for the second time (mile 34.8), on the heels of another  runner. Mel met me and filled my water bottle as I took a quick snack and left, before anyone else. Mel yelled to me she would meet me at Orville and I told her to skip that aid station and go to Mountain. I told her she was slowing me down. I was moving!

 

Yen Nguyen wearing a  Comrades Cap from this  year

Yen Nguyen wearing a Comrades Cap from this year

I chased another runner into Orville, (Mile 39.9) and passed him just outside the aid station.  After I left that aid station, it rained heavily for a few minutes. I had a poncho and had no problem with the rain and moved up the mountain, passing Crazy Horse and heading towards the finish. I met Mel at the Mountain Aid station. She was very excited and told me that I had moved up to 14th place.  I asked her to give me just half a bottle of water and quickly left, telling her I had to get moving and try to catch a few more.

I ran down towards the finish, passing a few more runners and moved to within 100 yards of 4 other runners. They heard me coming and started running. I tried to match their pace, but was unable to respond, watching them turn off of the trail and head onto the high school track. I would not catch them.

Within a few moments I turned off the trail and onto the track. I didn’t have a kick left and was satisfied to run the track alone, without urgency, appreciating the day, appreciating the volunteers, and especially appreciating Melanie’s support.  I just experienced the kind of run that we dream about: a battle with adversity and that sense of being alive when we overcome overwhelming challenges.

I want to thank Jerry Dunn for starting the race and  Royce his wife and family for continuing its tradition. I also want to thank  all the volunteers and the many runners who visited with me along the course. Lean Horse is a wonderful running experience and I recommend it to everyone.

Yes, it was a small race.
But I still finished 11th.
And this day, will always be a part of my “Grand Adventure”.  (And God, thank you for allowing me to run it and may I PLEASE ask,  no more practical jokes involving running, ok?)

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Tim Mullican and some nice ladies

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The finish line timing official, Melanie

Conococheague 50K-the Fatass

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Pre run briefing

On Saturday August 2, the Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club sponsored its second ultra, HARRC’s Conococheague Trail 50K Run. This is one of the runs I have designed to be a challenging  ultra at an affordable price-free.

The run was held in the Tuscarora State Forest, near Blain, Pa. and attracted runners from Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Washington DC and Ontario Canada. The course was run on two distinctly different loops, passing by the start finish area at mile 22. We have  four manned aid stations and one unmanned station, stocked with donations from the runners.

The run uses  forest service roads and very technical single track trails, with more than 4800 feet of climb, most of which occurs in the first 19 miles!

Aid station at mile 13

Aid station at mile 13

The weather was as perfect, which was unexpected for an August race in central Pennsylvania. The temperatures were cooler than normal, with just a little humidity, no rain and mostly cloudy or hazy skies.
The course takes the runners past several lookout areas with beautiful views of the valleys below, as well as past two historic gravesites, an abandoned attempt to dig a tunnel through a mountain for a railroad, and the opportunity, or curse, to run on a stony 1894 breastwork for a railroad that was never completed.

During the run, we saw Jesse Johnson push out in front to be the first finisher. And we had Jennifer Miller close out the pack of 50K runners. And she looked awesome when she finished.

It is always exciting to see someone accomplish a goal, and we certainly did see some fantastic finishes.  Erin McDougall, from Ontario Canada, finished his first 50K on a very challenging course. So did Becky Cover, Michelle Cross and Chantel Boucard, Brady Crone, Amy Sipe and Sherry Riley.

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We also had several runners who didn’t make the entire 50K, but had a wonderfully challenging  experience and gained confidence from their efforts, such as  Michael Valone and Shad Moyer.10517962_4605742519780_227099525892675994_n

Kerry Owens  and Doug Sullivan

Kerry Owens and Doug Sullivan

We had several friends from the Virginia’s Happy Trails Running Club join us for the run, including Kerry Owens, past winner of the MMT,   her husband Doug Sullivan, and Jaret Sieberg. I am sharing a picture of Doug and Kerry, after they climbed Big Round Top! Kerry was still catching her breath and thanking me for encouraging her to make the climb up Big Round Top! (It is a really nasty climb, as straight up as you would ever want to go without a rope!)

We  were fortunate to have a few experienced runners, Marcia Peters, Terri Sanchez and Katey Landis helping as sweeps. But maybe in this case, I should have had them running the race because my sweeps were talking and missed the ribbons, flags and painted arrows at a critical turn. By luck, I happen to be on a ridge and looked down and saw these runners in bright colored shirts and realized these runners were on the wrong trail. After a half mile jaunt, I intercepted them and had them turn around. (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, you know better to just follow the runner in front of you

and not pay attention to the markings!) :-)

We had several young people volunteer to help at the run and I want to give them special recognition They are Melvin Fager III, his sister Lilly,  and Avery Wright. Mel and Avery will both be attending University of Delaware this fall. We also had a young lady Abby McDougall, 13, from Ontario Canada, helping at several aid stations.

There was ample opportunity for runners and volunteers to see wildlife and participate in our photo contest. The only award you can win at our run is the photo contest and it is based on the best photograph of nature, such as deer, bear, turtles and snakes. Two bear were sighted, but no photos captured, one rattlesnake while I was marking trail on Friday and another rattlesnake scared Rebecca Cover and Carol Varano, as it rattled just beside Becky’s foot.

Fang's brother

Fang’s brother

We had several award photo contest  winners, including a  baby turtle, a butterfly, centipede and of course, the rattlesnake. Melanie and I awarded an Appalachian Running Company hat, several pair of trail socks and a hand held Amphipod water bottle.

baby-turtle-taken-by-angela-houseknecht

baby-turtle-taken-by-angela-houseknecht

As runners finish, my wife, Melanie and I host a little get together for the runners and their friends and family. Melanie prepared her famous “Veggie Chili” and also made turkey burgers, turkey dogs, and pasta salad, which was supplemented by any remaining items left over from the aid stations. Ultra runners certainly enjoy eating after a long run!

Everyone seemed to have an enjoyable time, with only a few scratches and a few blisters to remind them of the battle they had just gone through.

I want to thank all the runners that came out and share the trails with us. We hope you had a great time, a great run, and made a few new friends!
We want to once again, thank all the volunteers that sweep the course, manned the aid stations and a special thanks to members of the Perry County Road Runners who helped with some trail maintenance and trail marking, and of course, the Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club that help make this event possible.

 

 

 

Comrades Marathon and my visit with the Cheetahs-Part 2 of my African Adventure

In December, 2013, after 5 consecutive attempts to run the Western State 100 Mile Endurance Run again, the lottery was unkind and I  was not selected.  After some research I registered for the historic Comrades Marathon,  an ultra marathon that is approximately 89 K, or 56 miles.  The race started in 1921 and is run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, South Africa.

I wanted to combine this adventure with a hike of Kilimanjaro and a brief trip to a wildlife preserve. Having Kili lined up, I made arrangements to be driven to a game preserve outside Johannesburg to see lions and Cheetahs.

Visiting with cheetahs

Visiting with cheetahs

II consulted with Laura Kulsik, runner extraordinaire, who has visited South Africa a number of times to vacation and  run Comrades. She offered some wonderful advice about where to stay in Johannesburg and recommended a wonderful driver, Dintle Felicia Zulu, who lives in Soweto Township, very near Nelson Mandela’s home.

I contacted the game preserve and made arrangements and negotiated a price, to get close to their cheetahs. I would be the only person allowed to walk with the cheetahs that day and I had a 9:00AM appointment. While negotiating this part of my trip, the woman asked me why I was coming to South Africa. I told her I was coming to  run the Comrades. She became very excited and asked “Our Comrades” and then asked if I would like to go to the Orphanage. I was immediately suspicious and asked “Ok, what is it and how much?” The woman quickly responded that is where they raise orphaned lion cubs and she was going to include that in my package free, since I was coming all the way from the US to run their Comrades!

Even though I was scheduling my trip in December,  I had a great deal of trouble finding a hotel with vacancies in Durban and Pietermaritzburg so I reluctantly  booked an air and  hotel package for that part of my trip through Penthouse Tours, a company recommended by the race. I normally don’t advertise in my blogs, but you will understand why I would endorse this company shortly!

My trip was still under a dark cloud. My mother in law had a stroke while I was climbing Kilimanjaro and although I was preparing to fly home early, Melanie asked me to stay in South Africa and finish my adventure and she asked I run Comrades for Mom. Although I wanted to be with my wife, I was having difficulty getting a seat on an immediate return and with mixed emotions, stayed to run.

On May 29, I was schedule to be picked up by my driver, Dintle, at 8:00 AM. But she called me at 6:40 AM and said that because of a traffic issue, she was at the hotel and we needed to leave now, to make the 9:00 AM appointment at the game preserve.

Petting a lion cub

Petting a lion cub

Dintle was a delight and navigated around and through a massive traffic jam, getting me to the preserve with a few minutes to spare! As I visited with this hard working single mother, I began to like her more and more. When we arrived at the preserve, Dintle intended to stay in the car, as I went about and enjoyed myself. I would not let her miss out on this little excursion. I could not take Dintle with me,on the cheetah walk,  but  I was able to arrange for her to go into the Orphanage with me, and to do a safari drive amongst the lions!

Even though Dintle lived in South Africa  all her life, she told me she had never done anything like this. The lions terrified and delighted her, all at the same time. At times she was so scared she could not look, and then she would be shouting with excitement. And we laughed uncontrollably, especially when the large male lion rubbed up against her side of her car, leaving lion hair stuck in her side view mirror !

The lion who like Dintle

The lion who like Dintle

Dintle then drove me to Nelson Mandela’s house, in Soweto. I had a very nice our of the home and found it very  inspirational.

Nelson Mandela's home

Nelson Mandela’s home

On Friday, I flew from Johannesburg to Durban, where I met up with the rest of the runners who booked their transportation and hotel accommodations through Penthouse tours.  At the Durban airport, we were met by four of the nicest ladies you will meet, who represented the tour company.  They each took responsibility for a group of us, loaded us in vans and drove us to our hotel. It exceeded my expectation!

Registration line

Registration line

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Expo

My first  stop was the expo, to register and buy few pieces of Comrades memorabilia.

The expo

The expo

That afternoon I must have been showing stress on my face. One of the woman asked if everything was Ok. She was concerned something was wrong with the arrangements, or that I was not satisfied with my hotel room. I explained about my mother in law and I could feel her sincerest concern.

On Saturday I visited the beach, a mere two blocks from our hotel.The beach in Durban

The Durban beach is the nicest, cleanest beach I have ever seen. It has a wide street for pedestrian use that runs parallel to it, and on Saturday morning thousands of runners were out for their Saturday morning training run.

Surfing at the beach

Surfing at the beach

Sand sculptures at the beach

Sand sculptures at the beach

 But as I walked down the most beautiful beach I have seen, I could not stop thinking about my wife, Melanie and her family. I felt helpless and wished I could be home to support my wife, and yet I am trapped half way around the world.  It is funny how a mother in law that has annoyed me for years, but who has been in my life longer than my mother who passed away when I was 32, could come to be an important part of our family’s life. She drove us crazy. She was terribly opinionated and stubborn, and sometimes just plain mean, and yet she will be missed. IMG_2733

I continued alone, and walked to the cricket stadium where the Comrades will finish. It was an easy 3 block walk from our hotel. I asked a guard if I could come inside the fence to take pictures of the finish area and he asked his supervisor who allowed me inside. The people of South Africa are very kind!

View of finish area inside the stadium

View of finish area inside the stadium

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On my walk,  I passed a large group of children who were going off to run a 5K to celebrate 20 years since apartheid ended.

In the afternoon we were bused to Pietermaritzburg. The bus traveled through rolling countryside that made me feel like I was in Lancaster county. Farmland, chicken houses, pig houses dotted the countryside.

View of course senery

View of course senery

views along the course

views along the course

Hotel near start

Hotel near start

Once we reached Pietermaritzburg, we registered at  a charming old hotel that was only two blocks to the starting line!

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Clock tower by the starting line

The starting line

The starting line

The tradition of the race, its start, the singing of the ZULU song, the singing of the national anthem, the Cock Crow, and then the gun were very emotional in the predawn hours, with many a teary eye. I was obliged to place a flower on a stone seat that is just past the half way, and say a “Hello” to Arthur, who would sit and have a smoke before going on to victory, in the early years of the Comrades. My time for the 56 miles was 11:27. I was disappointed with my run but will admit the heat was a tremendous factor, reaching 31C. With 30 K to go I was not sure I would make it. I could not drink enough to cool down and I was no longer sweating and became dizzy. And I thought about Melanie and her Mom as I ran, wondering if she was still with us. As I approached the last two K, I met Claire and we pushed each other and entered the cricket stadium together. The cheers along the course were incredible, but even more so as we approached the stadium despite that we were finishing more than 6 hours after the champion!

When I finished and walked out onto the street, something happened. I woke up on a stretcher, being carried into the medical tent. I had passed out from dehydration. After two IVs, I was escorted back to my hotel by one of the nice ladies from Penthouse Tours, who had been looking for me for more than an hour! This is one of the reasons why I would recommend Penthouse Tours. Their staff truly goes above and beyond for their guests!

While laying in the medical tent, I felt confident my mother in law, Betty, was still with us and I had provided her one more good laugh. She often asked why I like to abuse myself with all my running. Maybe to provide her a little entertainment. I was certain she was watching and laughing at my self abuse through running the Comrades.

I arrived back in the States, on Tuesday afternoon, June 3. I went directly to see my mother in law at  her hospital room and although she was unconscious, I could see her breathing change when I told her about my adventure, Kilimanjaro, Comrades and my visit with the cheetahs and lions. I assured her I returned with all my fingers. She had worried I would leave some body part with the lions. And I said goodbye.

Betty, proper name is Elizabeth Cook, passed away a little before 10AM, Wednesday June 4.

This time Don’s Grand Adventure was almost more than he could take.

My Grand Adventure turned into one of the most stressful trips I have ever taken.

Good bye Betty. You will be missed.