39 days ago my mom, dad, and I drove the road miles between Helena and Billings, MT. We encountered a nine mile work zone on US-12 just east of Harlowton that day. I could tell that this road and drainage work was not going to be done by the time RAAoT ran through so I was left to simply hope and pray all would work out on day 24. I note that the work zone is on a road with absolutely no bypass available. So after running day 23 and filling our bellies with food Heidi and I drove east to check on the construction status. I was very relieved to find that the road work was not going on 24 hours a day and that both the eastbound and westbound lanes of traffic were not impeded in any way after hours - except that 6 of the 9 "detour" miles were a not-very wide dirt/rock road - not a good road for two lanes of cars and runners to travel at the same time. Bottom line, if we were unable to pass through the construction on day 24 we could simply end stage 24 at the 26.3 mile mark at the start of the work zone and take an early start on day 25 to start knocking out the 12.2 miles that needed to be added to the next 4-5 stages due to being forced to stop early on day 24. None of us wanted to end day 24 at the 26.3 mile mark, but if it had to be done then at least it could be done.
OK - the day started with temps in the mid-50s with 6.3 miles of no-shoulder road (US-12). There were no turns today - only the second day with zero turns. Not wanting to be on the section of US-12 with no shoulder any longer than needed, I immediately started to jog vice walk at the start. I was very happy that the left posterior tibial tendon didn't cause me any problems - hence no further report is required on this tendon. However, my right quad wasn't happy. I applied KT tape to the quad prior to the start, but every right footfall was quite painful for the first six miles. I realized I had forgotten to take any Advil before starting, so when I saw Heidi at mile 5.3 I took three pills. Shortly thereafter the awful pain started to subside and by mile 11 or so I was really enjoying the run. I hadn't run this well since stage 14, so no surprise I was now quite happy. I am a testament to the fact that Advil works. Nevertheless, there was still the work zone that had to be traversed. Margaret called Heidi when Justin reached the work zone to report that there was not a flagman at the entrance to the work zone so Justin ran into it. So far so good, but I could tell from the limited traffic that I saw that there must be a pilot car in the work zone since all the passing cars were in groups. When I get to the work zone Margaret calls back to report a flagman was directing traffic a mile into the work zone. Since Justin and Jennifer were already past that point, I wasn't too concerned, but again a runner isn't through a work zone until he or she is through the zone. No problem with the first flagman for me and I am running well - avoiding cars and construction vehicles - when I note a slow moving - well a slow moving something up ahead. As I get closer I can plainly see a person pulling a rickshaw heading east like myself. WOW!!! This is completely unexpected. I found out after finishing the run that this gentlemen has walked about 35,000 miles pulling this rickshaw - at least that is what Justin reported since Justin talked to the gentleman for about five minutes when he passed him earlier. This chance passing in the work zone brought a smile to my face and helped push me through the zone. I note that the workers were all very friendly and many waves were exchanged between myself and the construction workers. I don't think the presence of the RAAoT runners impeded any work being done on a Friday afternoon, but one will never know. There will most likely be other work zones - may our passage through those zones go just as well as today.
Selkirk to Shawmut, MT 38.52 miles