Sunday, August 26, 2012

RAAoT Final Wrap-up - Part 1

Since my wrap-up will be of some length, I will post in parts. Below is Part 1

The RAAoT has ended but the memories are still alive. Below... you will find writing that adds to the existing blog posts of the Run. May the additional writing be interesting to you and the humor bring you smiles. Besides this blog, Jennifer has written some super posts in her blog - - and Justin's blog is Additionally, hundreds of Run pictures and notes can be found on the Run Across America on Trail Facebook group pages.

Bottom line, completing the Run was a very challenging endeavor.  However, more importantly - as it always seems to be in life - is the friendships that were made while participating in a challenging event.  Hence it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I will continue to participate in challenging events in the future.

May 29th - the day before the start! Jennifer says it best in her blog, "Today is the last day of not-running across America. I can’t wait for it to start." I couldn't wait also!!!
It was great to meet Jennifer, Justin, Katie, and Corky at the hotel before the pre-run dinner. Karen and Heidi spent a good bit of time organizing the Samuelson crew vehicle (a 1997 Dodge Roadtrek 170 - initially nicknamed the Roadrunner for the Run but often times called the Beast) while I spent time organizing my gear for the Run. Justin and Katie also spent some time organizing the Faul crew vehicle - a 1995 Dodge van if I remember correctly. Jennifer nicknamed the van the Scooby Van. Justin had initially named the van Slow Roller, but the name didn't stick (although Justin may still be calling the van the Slow Roller, I don't know). Many Roadrunner and Scooby Van pictures can be seen on the Facebook page for the Run.

Day 1 - 30 miles of road, 1 on trail
Thanks again to John Wallace III ( and the USA Crossers Facebook group) for taking video of the Run start. It was great to meet John and I look forward to our paths crossing again. Great weather to start the Run, and beautiful scenery to keep us going on this first day of running. Thirty road miles and one bike path (most likely an old rail line mile actually) to get us to the finish point on day one which was the sign for the Moose Family Center in Montesano. It is interesting to note that Jen and I passed another Moose Family Center on day 79 I believe. Anyway, shifting back to day 1, we had to cross a bridge shortly after mile 3 with little shoulder. Shortly before crossing the bridge I see Jen and Justin - for that last time that day - which of course I didn't know to be the case at the time. I am not sure what thoughts were occupying my mind as I crossed the bridge but as I neared the end of the bridge a man with a camera basically pops outs from behind the bridge and starts taking pictures. It turns out he is a photographer for a local paper. What are the odds. I start telling him about the Run and how we (four runners) just started minutes ago on our quest to cross the country. I slow to a walk to talk and we continue to head east on WA-105. Regrettably, I wasn't carrying a Run business card on me so I just had to tell him the Run website info. At this point we note that there is a police officer stopped at an illegally parked car just down the road - and the car belongs to the photographer. That is the last I heard or saw the photographer.
Jennifer wrote the following about day 1, "Great day – I literally was grinning all day – if the rest of the route is even a tiny bit as good as today I’ll be very happy!" Jen also has a picture of my favorite sight of the day which is a small old railroad trestle on a long unused rail line running parallel to WA-105. Jen's label for the picture is "Wonderful Washington scenery".

Day 2 - 33 miles on road, no trail miles
Justin described day 2 the best with, "As a recap, day 2 was the same as day one, mile for mile, rain drop for rain drop the exact same, very nice and very scenic." We crossed several nice bridges on day 2 - an old bridge on Old HWY 410 and a new bridge on Banks Rd. The Banks Rd bridge was the third crossing we made of the Chehalis River in the first two days of running. Finally, Justin reported running 100 yards past the finish Stop Sign for the day. 

Day 3 -  22 miles on road, 14 on trail
Day 3 started on a sad note due to Marty informing us that he couldn't continue in the Run due to his right knee if I remember correctly. Jennifer, Justin, and I were all bummed to hear this bad news, but there wasn't much we could do but start running ourselves. Marty and Corky parked at the first turn point of the day at mile 5.4 and at the start of the Yelm-Tenino Trail at mile 11. I wondered both times I saw them if that was going to be the last time I saw them until we reached eastern Iowa. Thankfully Marty and Corky stayed on to crew Jennifer, Justin, and to a small extent myself through day 11. Jennifer really didn't like the last eleven miles of the day on WA-507, and for weeks any road similar to WA-507 was compared to WA-507. I still remember stopping at the Yelm City Hall which is located at the northeast end of the Yelm-Tenino Trail. Heidi and Karen told me to go in - even though I was drenched from the rain - and say HI to the folks there. I did indeed say HI enroute to using the restroom and I was informed that I was pronouncing the name of the city of Tenino correctly. I was pronouncing the city name as Te-neen-o, and I was informed the correct pronunciation is Te-nine-o. After finishing the Run, our travels to the hotel were delayed as the Scooby Van sliding door wouldn't close. Stuff happens. Then our travels were delayed again due to construction to install a new stop light not very far past where we stopped for day 3. I worried that the construction work could cause us a problem on day 4, but super Karen jumped out of the Roadrunner and ran past 20 or so cars to ask the flagman if construction work would take place the next day (Saturday). Thankfully no construction was scheduled for Saturday and we had no issue passing through the vacant work zone on day 4.

Day 4 - 26 miles on road, 12 miles on trail
Not much to add to the existing blog posts, but Heidi and Karen missed the turn at mile 17. Marty saw the Roadrunner drive by and miss the turn so he called Heidi to get the ladies back on track. Marty provided me some water to keep me going while my crew was missing. Shortly thereafter I looked left and spotted our hotel for the two nights of days 3 and 4 - the Fife Days Inn. This hotel definitely wasn't the best one we stayed in on the journey, but it was acceptable. It was great to see everyone at the finish, but I felt badly that everyone had to wait so long for me to get there.

Day 5 - 20 miles on road, 19 miles on trail
Stage 5 was a super, memorable day! Not everything went perfectly however. Jen took a fall that landed her a cut/gash on her hand that took weeks to heal. Jen took several short wrong turns - which slowed her of course. The wrong turns allowed me to catch up to Jen, and we had our first chance to talk while running. The miles passed easily on the only perfect weather day of the Run during which Justin saw a bear cross his path and he once again ran well. Karen really, really liked the town of North Bend where we finished the day. There are super views of Mount Si from North Bend, and North Bend has the 60 year old Scott's Dairy Freeze - a fantastic place to eat. Jen was frustrated by losing a draft blog post due to poor internet at the motel, and Heidi, Karen, and I had to sneak crew dog Daphne into the motel since no dogs were allowed in the motel. Marty and Corky crewed for Jen and I at mile 31 as Heidi, Karen, and Daphne were enjoying the Snoqualmie Falls. Day 5 was a Sunday - which was the best day to run through some of the major intersections through which we passed in the Seattle-Tacoma area. I would say I planned the Run this well to ensure we passed through these busy intersections on Sunday, but that wouldn't be the truth. Most importantly, day 5 is the day of the infamous Dead Deer on the Road. Somewhere on WA-900 (miles 9.63-14.54) which passes through heavily forested lands, Jen claims to have come upon a dead deer in the road. Jen also claims to have taken a picture of this dead deer. Neither Justin - who was running ahead of Jen - nor I - who was running behind Jen - recall seeing this dead deer which was supposedly right in our running path on the left shoulder of the road. No one to my knowledge has ever seen the picture of this dead deer. Sooooo, every once in a while during the Run I would verbally "poke" Jen about the supposed dead deer that Justin and I had magically missed. On day 8 I believe I asked Jen if she had seen the dead deer on the road at mile 22 or so if I remember correctly. Jen stated she hadn't seen the dead deer, but I feigned disbelief that she hadn't seen the dead deer that was simply not miss-able on the lonely road. I had Jen going for a minute or two before stating that I had made up the story of the dead deer. I expect the conclusion of the Dead Deer saga will come to an end soon when Jen posts the picture in a wrap-up blog post. Finally, I note that we encountered a number dead deer on the Run after day 5 with the dead deer at mile 14ish on day 22 sticking quite well in my mind. Yes, roadkill and roadkill smells were definitely a part of the Run. So what did happen to the dead deer Jen saw on day 5 that I - who ran down the same road just minutes later - didn't see? It will be a small mystery for all time.

Day 6 - 8 miles on road, 33 miles on trail
Day 6 is the day we could have run through the Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel, but I didn't know the Tunnel was opened that week, so 6 miles or so and a good amount of elevation change was needlessly added to the Run. Yes, stuff happens. Day 6 includes Heidi sending Justin the wrong way at mile 15.63 which allowed Justin to add .75 miles to the route and enjoy the Asahel Curtis nature trail. Jen and I got chilled and used hand warmers to reduce the shivering. I never would have thought that we would use hand warmers on the Run, but once again, stuff happens. I rarely saw Katie during the day since Justin was so far out ahead of me, but it was good to see Katie at the Snoqualmie Pass Visitor Center shortly before she departed the Run to return to Flagstaff and work. The John Wayne Pioneer Trail, aka Iron Horse Trail, aka Old Milwaukee Road was super. If only it was possible to cross the country on a 3300 mile crush stoned trail - maybe some decade. Dinner that night was at a local restaurant in South Cle Elum. While eating we (Heidi, Karen, Jen, and I) got to watch crew dog Daphne do her usual routine of standing on the Roadrunner seats and pawing the windows waiting anxiously for her humans to return to her. Why didn't we just leave Daphne in the hotel room you ask? Well, at the pre-Run dinner I got a call from the hotel stating that we needed to return to our room since our dog was barking and bothering other hotel guests. Hence, for the entire 45 days Daphne supported the Run we couldn't leave Daphne alone in the hotel room. Thankfully this didn't cause much of a problem.

Day 7 - 16 miles on road, 23 miles on trail
To copy from my day 7 blog post, "As has been the case in five of the previous six days, Justin and Jennifer were out of sight in just a couple miles after the start." It would have been great if I had the ability to run with Justin and Jennifer, but the fact is I didn't. It was great, however, that Justin and Jen could run a good pace on day 7 of the Run. I wished them the best - so it was disappointing to hear from Karen and Heidi at mile 23 or so that I was catching up to Jen who was now walking slowly. Regrettably Jen suffered a serious right quad injury that affected her running for at least four days if not longer. After finishing the stage I was surprised by great friends Kevin Dorsey and Leigh Tanner after taking a shower. I understand the photo taken of me wearing only a towel was erased shortly after it was taken.

Day 8 - 22 miles on road, 8 miles on trail
The shortest stage of the Run came about because I didn't think it was right to insert the originally planned 22 mile section of John Wayne Trail that passes through the Yakima Army Training Center into the Run route. It was a tough call to take these trail miles out of the Run route, but there were no places in this section for crew to meet runners. My second thought was to have someone crew by bicycle, but after biking the route shortly before the Run start I decided that having someone crew runners by bike in this section wasn't a good plan either. Hence, we took the shorter road route to reach the Columbia River. Jen has a nice picture on her blog of the remote little used road (Vantage HWY) which was bypassed by I-90 years ago. A person could also see an older alignment of Vantage HWY in one place on the road. 

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