Monday, August 27, 2012

RAAoT Final Wrap-up - Part 2

Day 9 - 44 miles of road, 0 miles of trail
I wrote following day 8 that "in a matter of mere moments it seems our group transitioned from the wet dark forest to the dry open high desert - from hand warmers to sunblock - from sea to shining sea (ok - that last part will take 80 days)". The evidence proves I spoke too quickly as once again on day 9 the rain chilled us to the bone when it hit Jen and I at mile 11. We couldn't get to the Roadrunner fast enough to start warming up and donning additional clothes and using more hand warmers. 
Day 9 was highlighted by the crossing of the Columbia River on the I-90 Vantage Bridge. I swiveled my head left and right as much as I dared to in order to take in the scenery at the slow pace we were running - knowing full well I wouldn't have the chance to run across the bridge again in the future. Sometimes I think back that maybe we ran across the bridge too quickly since Jen was having right quad issues, but it is what it is. After the rain and overcast were replaced in the late afternoon by sun, Karen came out and walked with Jen and I while talking to AT&T. Jen was having issues using her "go" phone to connect with folks back home with text messages. We walked several miles with Jen on one phone and Karen on the "go" phone trying to work out the phone issue with AT&T. It took several calls and more than an hour - maybe even two hours - to correct the issue. Finally, one last cold rain shower had to hit as we were walking the last mile of the day. Nobody said the Run would be easy as day 9 turned out to be the longest day for Jen and I in terms of time spent on the route - 14 hours and 29 minutes. Day 9 was also the longest day of the route (44.74 miles) until day 37.

Day 10 - 13 miles of road, 28 miles of trail
Well, the portion of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail (JWPT) east of the Columbia River isn't well developed. There are not many users of this section of trail due to the numerous railroad rocks and the trail gates that one must go through or over to remain on the trail. Additionally, all users must request permission from the Washington State Park to use the trail. If I ran or cycled across the country in the future I wouldn't choose to utilize the JWPT east of the Columbia River. 

Day 11 - 5 miles of gravel road, 33 miles of trail
Great thanks to Jake and Joan Harder who allowed Jennifer, Justin, and I to cross their property on day 11! The day was a super one, but one could say more of the same - same rain, same hand warmers, and same rocky trail. At mile 28 we crossed a bridge that was under repair. No complaints by me that no one was around to question our safe crossing since it was a Saturday. At mile 32 we passed a pair of dead animals. Jen noted the animals were most likely killed by a person since the pair were basically laying side-by-side - definitely not a natural occurrence. I couldn't tell you what animals we saw lying there on the trail because I am simply not very good at animal identification - something Jen poked me about a number of times on the Run. At mile 36, we crossed a bridge/trestle that was not removed/demolished like other trestles on the rail line were after the state of Washington took control of the abandoned rail line. I believe the bridge was allowed to remain in place due to this portion of trail also acting as a road for a local rancher or two, but that is only an assumption.

Day 12 - 20 miles of road, 14 miles of trail
Day 12 was shorter than originally planned since I decided to remove portions of the JWPT in this area from the route due to too many rocks and missing trestles. It was tough once again to remove trail from the route, but it was the correct decision to make. We said goodbye to Marty and Corky before starting out this morning - sad to see the super duo depart, but good to have Justin's brother Adam on board to take over driving the Scooby Van (note: I believe I called the Scooby Van a Dodge in my last post, but I now confidently believe the van to be a Chevy Astro van due to my sighting of a Chevy Astro today). As reported in the blogs, the wheat fields were fantastic, the weather was great (only the second day with no rain), and all three of us ran fairly well - although the rocky trail slowed us. My memory has faded, but did we see a cougar on the trail behind us at mile 28???
Additionally, what happened to the sign? The end point on day 12 was to be "Cross Fairbanks-Seabury Rd and stop at the red and white "Old Milwaukee Road" sign." This end point seemed pretty clear to me as virtually every time the trail crossed the road there was a red and white sign which stated "Trail Closed to Motorized Traffic", and "No Hunting", etc. What I hadn't noted was that some of these signs said "John Wayne Pioneer Trail" and some said "Old Milwaukee Road". The facts are the facts, the "finish" sign was right there - right after crossing the road the red and white sign was posted on the right side of the trail. Nevertheless, Heidi reports to me when Jen and I reach the Roadrunner at mile 28 that Justin couldn't find the end point sign so he stopped in the middle of the road (I note this is a rural road, so there was no problem with Justin stopping in the middle of it.) So all I can think of the last six miles of the day is is the sign gone, was it never there in the first place, did someone remove it in the last three weeks? We finish and there is the red and white sign just where I had seen it three weeks prior - but it says John Wayne Pioneer Trail vice Old Milwaukee Road. Ahhh - can't win for losing I guess as Jen didn't think the red and white sign was the finish point either since it didn't say Old Milwaukee Road. The other incident to report from day 12 is that Adam wasn't at the 23 mile crewing location/turn point for Justin when Justin reached the 23 mile turn point back onto the JWPT from the road. To rectify the situation, Justin didn't turn onto the trail rather he continued on road into the small town of Rosalia, found Adam, received aid, and then returned to the Run route. I believe this added two miles to Justin's day - just another "stuff happens".

Day 13 - 20 miles of road, 18 miles of trail
We ran some great trail to complete the RAAoT!!! The Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes was probably the best - although the George S. Mickelson Trail in South Dakota is just as super! However, due to the Montana fires we were only able to run 5 miles of the Mickelson Trail vice 90 miles - bummer. I note that the GAP/C&O Canal trail is a close second to the Coeur d' Alenes and Mickelson Trails. The first two miles of the route on day 12 was our last two miles on the JWPT. This included a nice trestle crossing - which I note had no handrails(?!) Justin - and later Jen and I - had our pictures taken at an Idaho State Line sign, but I note that the sign was actually for a different road than the road we actually ran when we entered Idaho. Improvisation. The last 16 miles of the day were on The Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes and it was fantastic!!! This was followed by one of our best hotels for the trip - the Lakeview Lodge in Harrison, ID. On a sad note we said goodbye to outstanding Karen earlier that morning as it was her time to head back to Illinois.

Day 14 - 0 miles on road, 43 miles on trail
Looking back on it, day 14 was probably the best day of the Run - at least for me. Super trail, great weather, fantastic scenery, and the three of us ran well. Day 14 is only one of the five or six days of the Run I averaged a pace faster than 12 minutes a mile. After we finished, we headed to the Stardust Motel in Wallace which I note was a very nice place. We had a good pizza/calzone dinner and discussed our plans for maintaining two crews. I called my Aunt Margaret and was very happy to hear that she was good for flying into Helena to take over crewing duties from Adam in just six short days.

Day 15 - 17 miles of road, 25 miles of trail
Not much I can add to what the blogs states, but miles 29-34 on this on-and-off rainy day were run on a dirt I-90 frontage road. I don't think a single car drove by us these five miles during which we did get a little colder than desired during a short spell of hard rain - and we had to dodge numerous puddles on the road. During the pre-Run when I had biked these 5 miles four weeks earlier, I didn't properly fasten my GPS watch to my bike bag. I was 2-3 miles down the road when I passed a car (the only car I saw that day on that dirt road) and noted that my watch was not where it was supposed to be. I turned around and headed back up the road hoping I would find the $300 watch, and also wondering if the car I had just passed would find it before me. Lots of potholes on the road - which probably was an old rail line by the way - kept the car moving slowly. I had backtracked about a mile when I noted the car appeared to have slowed down somewhat before speeding up again. HMMM, could they have seen my orange watch against the background of the dirt? I don't know, but my watch was indeed in the roadway near there. It was nice to recover it.

Day 16 - 38 miles of road, 2 miles of trail
A great day as Jen took my picture at the ABBA Ln sign in St. Regis! If only I had gone to see ABBA in person as a teenager when I had the chance. Additionally, we ran two miles on the dirt Old Mullan Rd from miles 11-13. These two miles of jeep road might have been part of the original alignment of the Mullan Rd. According to Wikipedia, "Mullan Road was the first wagon road to cross the Rocky Mountains to the Inland of the Pacific Northwest. It was built by US Army Lieut. John Mullan between the spring of 1859 and summer 1860." The super scenery continued!!!

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. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Initial RAAoT Wrap-up Post

First the stats.
Miles Run: 3302.85 miles
Mike       719:47:13
Jennifer   720:26:40

I will publish a thorough wrap-up of the Run on September 13th as it will take me that much time to write down everything. I have been asked if I plan on writing a book, and the answer is no I will not write a book on the Run.

Great thanks once again goes to the people who spent many hours on the cold and wet & then hot and humid roads to get Jennifer and I to to the Atlantic.
Heidi Samuelson and Crew Dog Daphne (Days 1-45, 80)
Carl and Pat Samuelson (Days 35-80 and the five week pre-Run finalization trip)
Steph Robinson (Days 46-63)
Karen Doyle (Days 1-12, 57-58)
Mike Melton (Days 28-40)
Corky Feeney (Days 1-11, 54)
Margaret Trosino (Days 21-27, 78-80)
Adam Faul (Days 12-20)
Peter and Eileen Bradley (Days 73-80)
John Price (Days 66-72)
Katie Faul (Days 1-6)
Frank Dembia (Days 30-34)
Kari and David Chapman (Days 38-40)
Karla Loser (Day 80)

Great appreciation also goes out to Justin Faul and Marty Sprengelmeyer who shifted to being crew members after being forced from the Run due to runner issues.

The last blog post for the Run Across America on Trail will be on September 13th. Yes, the Run has to end sometime.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 80 - Finished!!!

The running went fairly smoothly today - mostly on the four lane Route 1 with lots of traffic. It was great to reach the finish!!!! It was a super day that might only have been better if Justin and Marty had crossed the finish line today also, but stuff happens.

This endeavor couldn't have been completed without super crew!!! Thanks to many folks - will write more about that later.

Dover to Cape Henlopen State Park, DE 39.43 miles
Jennifer 8:40:27
Mike      8:40:27

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 79 - Into Delaware!!!

Plenty of hills on days 76-78, and some nice rural Maryland scenery. The hills slowed us a bit. Today Jennifer and I enjoyed a few flat miles of Maryland scenery before running into Delaware and running more flat road miles. The muscles enjoyed running the flat miles today better than the hilly miles of the past three days. Yes, Jennifer and I need to do hill repeats after we finish.
My wife Heidi, Aunt Margaret, and sister Karla are here in Delaware to see the finish. It is great to have them here.
Karla asked me if I have had a favorite place on the route earlier this evening. No city readily came to my mind. I did think of running through the small town of Elmore, OH on the North Coast Inland Trail and thinking that Elmore looked like a nice place. I thought about two towns on the Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes - Harrison, ID and Wallace, ID. I thought about the nice town of Townsend, MT. HMMM - guess I will have to ponder this question some more as a "final answer" hasn't come to me.
One more day!!!
Chesapeake City, MD to Dover, DE 38.60 miles
Jennifer  8:44:15
Mike      8:44:15

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 78 - Memories

Will Campbell joined Jennifer and I and crews (our parents) for dinner after stage 77. Will has been involved in the TRANSAMs since 1992 and is mentioned in Barry Lewis's book Running The Trans-America Footrace. It was great to talk to Will about past runs. Thanks Will!!!
Jennifer and I ran some more hills today, and we ran through some nice rural Maryland countryside. The good news is that today is the last day of hills. The route is flat the last 80 miles.
Well, 78 days of memories have been stored in that gray matter known as my brain with two more days of memories to be added. I don't have many talents, but I do have a fantastic visual memory. I can recall many images from the past 78 days. I replay the images in my mind in an effort not to lose those memories. Will I slowly lose the ability to recall the images? The likely answer to that question is yes. My ability to recall events and images from high school nearly 30 years ago is disappointingly limited.
Planning and running the Run Across America on Trail has been a great time in my life. One might say that I was called to run across the country and that I was simply fulfilling destiny by doing so. I will try to sum it up by saying that I am very fortunate to be able to do the Run - a challenge I have dreamed about undertaking since 2002 when I raptly followed the 2002 Run Across America via Alan Firth's daily race reports.
Bel Air to Chesapeake City, MD 39.43 miles
Jennifer 9:41:13
Mike     9:41:13

Day 77 - More Road

First off I forgot to mention that we crossed the Appalachian Trail on day 76. It was definitely a pick-me-up to cross the great trail.
Day 77 was more up and down on some highways with a good amount of traffic and some low trafficked side roads. I would love to tell you that Jennifer and I an run ups and downs with ease after running 76 consecutive days, but that is not the case. The ups and downs are quite taxing on the muscles which have mostly been conditioned and used to primarily run flats the past 76 days. We especially cringe when reaching the moderate or steep downs as the leg muscles let us know that they don't really like what we are forcing them to do.
We passed through two nice forested sections on the day 77 route. Folks just driving from one place to another place won't see what we slow runners can see on occasion.
I guess it is time to commence a countdown as there is just three days of running to go until the Atlantic is reached!!!
Westminster to Bel Air, MD 40.43 miles
Jennifer  9:20:46
Mike       9:20:46

Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 76 - Good Day on the Road

I wasn't excited to get back to the road again, but the left foot didn't flap and flop as much as it had last week when we left the road to run the GAP and C&O Towpath. For some reason the left foot didn't flop and flap as much on the trail as compared to road. Also, once again we had good weather with temps in the 80s and low humidity. I was concerned there would be lots of traffic today, but there wasn't, and that the near zero shoulder for many miles would be a problem, but it wasn't, so overall a good day!
Williamsport to Westminster, MD 46.39 miles
Jennifer   10:40:10
Mike        10:40:10

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 75 - C&O Canal Day 2

Another great weather day and plenty of shade from the trees lining the trail helped Jennifer and move down the trail at a nice pace. Elaine ran three plus miles with us while Pete rode the bike and carried water for us for 13 miles. We left the C&O Canal Towpath at Williamsport and ran a mile of road to finish at our hotel for the night. It was very enjoyable to run the Towpath, but it is back to the roads for the last five days of the run until the final mile on bike path.
I forgot to post yesterday how surprising it was to see a whole lot of folks at the finish point for stage 74. We finished at Little Orleans, MD - a remote location on the C&O Canal Towpath that is normally almost a deserted place. Not on Saturday however. Hundreds of bikers had converged on Little Orleans to participate in "Sturgis East". I had never heard of Sturgis East before, but I know about it now.
Little Orleans to Williamsport, MD 42.30 miles
Jennifer  8:56:56
Mike       8:56:56

Stage 74 finish times for 45.23 miles not reported in the previous blog post:
Jennifer 9:41:28
Mike      9:41:28

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Days 73 and 74 - Into Maryland and the C&O Canal

Day 73
The best weather day in 6-7 weeks probably helped Jennifer and I to running our fastest pace day since stage 34 I believe. The official distance for the day was 48.80 miles; finish time of 9:59:12. We ran well from the start with complete overcast skies for 20 plus miles and scattered clouds the rest of the day. Start temp was near 60 and the high temp was reported to be about 72.
Jennifer’s parents Pete and Eileen arrived the night before and they immediately commenced crewing duties as they crewed for Jennifer and I the first 13 miles of the day. Upon reaching the Eastern Continental Divide after running a slight uphill grade for 25 miles, Pete rode my bike to mule food and water for Jennifer & I, and Eileen ran with us. The four of us had a wonderful eight-mile downhill run/bike from the Divide, through the 3000+ foot long Big Savage Tunnel (the longest tunnel of the Run route) and into Frostburg, MD. Besides enjoying the valley views from the trail, a local cyclist pointed out a large rattlesnake about 15 feet off the trail to us. From there Jennifer and I continued to run well downhill to our stop a mile and a half from downtown Cumberland, MD. Shortly after leaving Frostburg we sighted a presumably old slow moving beaver-like animal on the trail. Unlike most animals that run away from people this one stayed right next to the trail as we walked right up to it and watched it for a minute or so. Earlier in the day we crossed over the longest trestle of the trip just north of Meyersdale, PA. WOW – a super day!!!
Markleton, PA to Cumberland, MD 48.80 miles
Jennifer  9:59:12
Mike        9:59:12

Day 74
It was another good weather day with the high in the low 80s and plenty of shade from the trees. After running the last mile and a half on the GAP we transitioned to the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal Towpath. The Towpath surface is not quite as good as the GAP trail surface so we expended a slight bit more effort to complete each mile as compared the GAP. With that said, we ran well all day again. Pete cycled and muled for us for 19 miles and Eileen ran with us for six miles. We ran through the Paw Paw Tunnel – the only tunnel on the C&O Canal – and the only tunnel on the Run route which required headlamps/flashlights/head torches. Great thanks to our crews (our parents) for moving us down the trail so quickly these last two days!!!
Cumberland to Little Orleans, MD 45.23 miles
            Will have to report our time tomorrow – long story.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Day 72 - Day 2 of the GAP

After finishing day 71 we all headed to the fantastic Dave (Gator) and Jane Gates farm. We were treated to an absolute feast for dinner to include the finest steak I have ever eaten - WOW!!! We definitely started day 72 with full stomachs. Before writing about day 72 though I have to note that 2011 solo USA Crosser and super Virginia ultrarunner John Price joined us on day 66 for crew duties. We said goodbye to John at the end of the day. GREAT THANKS John!!!! I look forward to seeing you at future races and hopefully next Friday at the RAAoT finish. John very slowly rode my bike for 23 miles today as there was only one road accessible by crew on this long stretch. Yes, John muled (carried water and food) for Jennifer and I - which is quite fine for the RAAoT. Jennifer and I were running well and it appeared likely that we would finish the 44 miles today in less than 10 hours, but we were caught by a thunderstorm at mile 34 which drenched and actually froze us to the bone for a couple miles so at the next road crossing we stopped early for the day - making day 73 a 48 mile day. May we miss the forecast scattered thunderstorms on Friday.
Connellsville to Markleton, PA 37.98 miles
Jennifer  8:29:11
Mike       8:29:11

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Days 69-71; More Great Trails!!!

Day 69
We returned to hill country - to include running the hilliest street of the Run while in West Virginia for a few miles after crossing the Ohio River at Stuebenville. A good day, we started off running the last mile of the Connotton Creek Trail, and we finished the day by running eleven miles of the Panhandle Trail.
Jewett, OH to Burgettstown, PA 43.74 miles
Jennifer  10:19:26
Mike       10:19:26

Day 70
Lots of trail today - eight more miles of the Panhandle Trail and a number of miles on the super Montour Trail in the Pittsburg area.
Burgettstown to Port Vue, PA 44.10 miles
Jennifer 10:23:07
Mike      10:23:07

Day 71
Super!!!! The entire day was on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) - the first of three potentially glorious days on the GAP. The GAP connects with the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal Towpath and a runner or cyclist can travel to DC from Pittsburgh almost entirely on trail. Jennifer and I predicted our finish time at the two hour mark today and I was happily 13 minutes off as we finished quicker than I predicted. Jennifer predicted a 10:10 finish. We didn't look at our watches in order to not affect our pace. The day started very poorly for me as my left leg muscles were having serious issues moving my foot so that I could "run", but the leg came around and one could say that I was actually running - although the left foot essentially flaps or flops when it hits the ground. The noise level difference of the left foot hitting the ground as compared to the right foot hitting the ground was unbelievable when passing through one of the Montour Trail tunnels on day 70. Bottom line for me is this left leg/foot issue that has bothered me for 12 days now has slowed me. Jennifer has also been slowed - possibly by the effect of running 71 ultras in a row. I don't foresee us getting much faster the last nine days of the run, but I can always hope!!!!
Port Vue to Connellsville, PA 44.36 miles
Jennifer  10:13:31
Mike      10:13:31

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Days 66-68 - Great Trails

No time to blog.
Day 66
Elyria to Everett, OH 44.6 miles
Mike       11:37:32
Jennifer   13:56:17

Day 67
Everett to Navarre, OH 43.69 miles

Mike        11:24:53
Jennifer    12:57:08

Day 68
Navarre to Jewett, OH 45.84 miles

Mike        10:44:29
Jennifer    11:56:32

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Days 64 and 65 - North Coast Inland Trail

Day 64
Jennifer and I started the day off well running 10 good miles on road before reaching the western end of the North Coast Inland Trail (NCIT). Just a mile into the trail we passed through the nice town of Elmore. I got into a quick conversation with four nice ladies who were discussing Run For God ( May these ladies find success in running - and may their running bring them closer to God. On the whole I am closer to God when running as compared to any other time of my life. The heat and humidity picked up and we slowed, but in total we ran about the pace we have been running for some time now.
Elmore to Bellevue, OH 41.79 miles
Jennifer 9:38:43
Mike      9:38:43

Day 65
The second of two days on the NCIT was a tough one, but our legs brought us to the finish point just as it has done for the previous 64 days. I note that the NCIT is not finished and that there are some breaks in the trail, but work is in progress to slowly close the NCIT gaps. Thankfully the mile of trail around Monroeville was completed earlier this summer otherwise we would have had one more trail break. Eventually the NCIT might connect to the Wabash Canonball Trail. We can only hope that happens sooner rather than later!!!
Bellevue to Elyria, OH 41.2 miles
Jennifer 12:51:08
Mike      12:51:08