ROANOKE VA APRIL 2011 THE SOGGY SAGA

HERE IS THE STORY OF STATE NUMBER 25 MARATHON -THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY IN ROANOKE VIRGINIA IN MID APRIL 2011.

MOST OF THE PREVIOUS RACES HAD NOT HAD HUGE ELEVATION FEATURES SO AFTER DOING A BIKING EVENT THAT WAS PRETTY EXTREME AND CHALLENGING I THOUGHT WHY NOT MAKE A DAY OUT OF AN ASPHALT HIKE OVER A CHALLENGING COURSE ?  SO THE REVIEWS ON MARATHONGUIDE.COM INDICATED THAT THIS RACE WAS WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR. I CHEERFULLY INFORMED MY LOVED ONES THAT I WANTED TO DO A STATE AND “HAVE  A STORY”.  WELL HERE WE GO.

I CASHED IN MY VISA MILES FOR A NON STOP FLIGHT TO ROANOKE VA. ARRIVED AND IMMEDIATELY WENT TO THE TOP OF ONE OF THE LOCAL MOUNTAINS TO SEE THE WORLD’S LARGEST MAN MADE STAR. IT WAS HUGE- LIGHTS UP AT NIGHT AND THE VIEW WAS SPECTACULAR.  IT WAS MID APRIL AND THE FLOWERS WERE JUST COMING OUT, THE TEMPS WERE GENTLY WARM, THERE WAS A VIEW OF RIDGE AFTER RIDGE OF BLUE MOUNTAINS THAT WENT FOR EVER. I THOUGHT I HAVE TO COME BACK IN A CAR AND DO A SPRING DRIVE ON THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY. NOTICE WE ARE NOT SAYING BIKE OR WALK.  IT WAS A PRETTY STEEP SITUATION.  THE RACE HAD BEEN ESTABLISHED THE YEAR BEFORE WITH THE INTENTION OF HAVING THE MOST ELEVATION GAIN OF ANY ROAD (NOT TRAIL) MARATHON IN THE U.S.  THE FOLKS IN ARIZONA WITH THE MT. LEMMON MARATHON THOUGHT THEY STILL MIGHT OWN THE BRAGGING RIGHTS. SO THE ORGANIZERS OF THE ROANOKE RACE INVITED THE WINNERS OF MT. LEMMON TO ATTEND AND DECIDE THIS ISSUE.  TO MAKE MATTERS MORE DECISIVE THEY PUT A THIRD MOUNTAIN ON THE RACE ROUTE.   OKAY GOT THE PICTURE ON THIS ONE?

THE COURSE WOULD STAY OPEN FOR 8.5 HOURS SO EVEN WITH LOTS OF  POTENTIAL WALKING THIS WAS LOOKING LIKE A GREAT ADVENTURE.   

SINCE THIS IS A YEAR LATER AND MY OFFICIAL 50 STATE SCRAPBOOK IS NOT HANDY, SOME OF THE DETAILS OF THE WEEKEND ARE INCOMPLETE- THERE WAS A TERRIFIC MUSEUM BY A FAMOUS BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHER THAT TOOK PICTURES OF TRAINS.  NADEEN M AND MARY ARRIVED FROM CHICAGO TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS FOLLY AND THE PACKET PICK UP/RACE HEADQUARTERS WAS IN A REALLY NICE MODERN ART MUSEUM.  THE RACE WAS SMALL I WOULD SAY ABOUT 250 IN THE FULL AND 6-700 IN THE HALF. HOW MANY FOOLS  COULD THIS ONE ATTRACT?

RACE DAY DAWNS AND IT IS A TSNUMAI. I HAD SOME EXTRA PONCHOS THAT I GAVE TO SOME POOR SOULS WHO SHOWED UP IN JUST  SLEEVELESS AND NOTHING ELSE. THE FORECAST LOOKED WET/COOL ALL DAY.  WE WERE SOAKED BEFORE THE GUN WENT OFF. UP MOUNTAIN NUMBER ONE WE WENT. PAST THE GIANT STAR AND UP AND UP. THE WOODS WERE BEAUTIFUL AND THE PEOPLE AT THE AID STATIONS WERE SO NICE AND ENCOURAGING. WE WERE PROFUSELY THANKING THEM FOR STANDING OUT IN THIS. I CONCENTRATED ON THE BEAUTIFUL WOODS AND CHATTING UP ALL THE NICE FOLKS. NADEEN  M. CAME ALONG AND WE RAN A FEW MILES. SHE WAS IN A BRAND NEW REI RAIN SUIT AND DRY AS A BONE. MY RAIN JACKET WAS WORKING WELL, I WASN’T COLD AND THIS WAS ACTUALLY FUN.  IT CONTINUED TO POUR AND GET DARKER.

I DID A FEW MILES WITH DON KERN THE RACE DIRECTOR OF GRAND RAPIDS AND NOW THE WORLD’S RECORD HOLDER FOR DOING A MARATHON ON ALL 7 CONTINENTS IN 23 DAYS.  HIS BLOG IS: DON’SREALLYCOOLADVENTURES, IF THAT SAGA INTERESTS YOU. DON IS A GREAT GUY, PUTS ON A FANTASTIC RACE AND WRITES  A GREAT MONTHLY NEWSLETTER TOO. DON HAS DONE 200 PLUS MARATHONS AND IS A DOWNHILL RUNNING SPECIALIST. WE HAD CROSSED PATHS A FEW TIMES IN THE PREVIOUS YEAR.  PART OF THE HOSPITALITY AT THE GRAND RAPIDS MARATHON IS TO BRING THE RACE DIRECTOR YOUR LOCAL BREW OR PINT GLASS. I HEAR RACE DIRECTING IS  VERY THIRSTY WORK. WE BROUGHT HIM A GREAT FALL SELECTION FROM THE TWO BROTHERS BREWERY IN WARRENVILLE.

SO I DO NOT HAVE A GREAT MEMORY OF MOUNTAIN NUMBER TWO OTHER THAN IT WAS AFTER MOUNTAIN NUMBER ONE AND IN THE WOODS. THERE WAS AN EXTREME DOWNHILL FOR MTN NUMBER TWO AND DON WAS AMAZING ON THAT PART- LOOKING LIKE A GAZELLE WITH 20 FT STRIDES.

 I DO REMEMBER MOUNTAIN NUMBER THREE.  I WAS GETTING TIRED, WAS SOAKED  AND THE INCLINE WAS STEEP, THE NEIGHBORHOOD WAS VERY NICE, THE PEOPLE NEAR THE NICE HOUSES WERE GIVING US THE PATHETIC CHEERS, SYMPATHY WORDS,  AND THE YOU LOOK READY FOR AN AMBULANCE STARES.
MONTAIN THREE HAD A NICE DOWNHILL TOO AND I WAS RUNNING WITH A PREIST AND A DIVINITY STUDENT. WE RE- ENTERED THE TOWN SECTION ALONG A RIVER. THE RIVER WAS RISING AND COMING  QUICKLY UP TOWARD THE PATH WE WERE RUNNING ON.  THE RAIN WAS CATS AND DOGS. JACKET- SCHMACKET THE RAIN WAS IN EVERY NOOK AND CRANNY. WALKING WAS NOT A GOOD IDEA AS IT WAS TOO COLD. RUNNING KEPT YOU PERFECT. SO THE LIGHTNING STARTED COMING STRAIGHT DOWN.  SINCE I DO NOT HAVE METAL PARTS IN ME –YET- I KEPT GOING. I ASKED THE DIVINITY STUDENT IF SHE WAS SCARED OF THE LIGHTNING AND THE METAL STREET LIGHTS ON THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER WE WERE RUNNING OVER. SHE SAID NO.
WHEN YOU KNOW JESUS AND A RACE DIRECTOR ARE ON YOUR SIDE YOU CERTAINLY  HAVE A GOOD CONNECTION -RUN ON SISTER. BESIDES WE WERE COMING UP ON MILE 23. OH YES THERE WERE STILL ALL KIND OF HILLS IN THE TOWN TOO.  SO MILE 23 AID STATION COMES UP AND
A GUY STRETCHES HIS ARMS OUT TO BLOCK OUR PATH AND SAYS “STOP: THE RACE IS CANCELLED, THE CLOCK IS TURNED OFF.”  ANY RUNNER AT MILE 23 ONLY UNDERSTANDS ONE THING- THERE IS A MEDAL WAITING FOR ME ALONG WITH CHOCOLATE MILK AND MAYBE PIZZA AND BEST OF ALL I GET TO STOP WHEN I GO UNDER THAT BANNER THING.
NO BANNER –NO STOP. OUR LITTLE CLUSTER OF FOOLS POLITELY SAYS THANK YOU SO MUCH AND RUNS ON.  THEN I REALIZE THIS IS NOT GOING TO COUNT, YOU WILL HAVE TO SPEND LOTS MORE VISA DOLLARS TO GET ANOTHER FREE TICKET TO RETURN AGAIN TO VIRGINIA AND WHO KNOWS NEXT TIME COULD EVEN BE SNOW!!
P.S. THE 50 STATE QUEST STARTED WITH A SNOWED OUT MARATHON IN 2010 IN MYRTLE BEACH SO LOOK FOR THAT SAGA REAL SOON.
ON WE FORGE, THERE IS NOW FLASH FLOODING IN THE STREETS  THE WATER IS UP TO THE SHINS.  THE MANHOLE DRAINS ARE FULL AND THEY ARE SPOUTING GEYSERS 3 FT HIGH OF RAIN WATER.
THERE ARE MIRACULOUSLY A FEW POLICEMAN STILL OUT AND THEY ARE TELLING US WHERE TO GO.  I WAS BEHIND A TALL FELLOW AND I SAID IF HE GOES IN A POTHOLE AND THE WATER IS OVER HIS WAIST– I BETTER DETOUR –THAT IS TOO HIGH FOR ME.  I HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MUCH RAIN-EVER.  YES THERE IS STILL THUNDER AND LIGHTNING ALL OVER THE PLACE. I NOW UNDERSTAND THE EXPRESSION RUNNING FOR YOUR LIFE. I THINK I RAN A FEW 6 MINUTE  MILES.   KNEE DEEP WATER AND LIGHTNING ARE PROBABLY NOT THE SAFEST COMBO.
SO GUESS WHAT?  THERE  APPEARS THE ART MUSEUM WHERE WE STARTED !!!! . THERE IS NO BANNER, NO FINISH LINE, NO CLOCK  IT HAS BLOWN AWAY TO KANSAS WITH DOROTHY AND TOTO.
I HEADED OVER TO A FOOD TENT THAT IS IN ANKLE DEEP MUD AND HELP MYSELF TO ENOUGH CHOCOLATE MILK TO FEED 200 PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT THERE. IT WAS DELISH. I HAD STOPPED MY WATCH AND THOUGHT I WILL TAKE A PICTURE OF THIS AND DARN IT WORLD THAT IS VIRGINIA.  A MAN IN A SLICKER COMES OVER AND SAYS: HEY YOU- YOU WANT A MEDAL? I SAID YES!!! OH YES THANK YOU.  A NICE GIRL CAME OUT FROM THE MUSEUM WITH A FRESH SUPPLY OF SOAKING BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY MARATHON 2011 MEDALS.  50 STATE CRITERA:  MEDAL, BIB, OR RESULTS YOU NEED 2 OF THE 3. SOME HOW LATER THERE WERE AWARDS, TIMES, RESULTS ETC. I SWEAR THERE WAS NO FINISH LINE, NO CHIP MAT. MAYBE THE WIZARD OF OZ WAS BEHIND A CURTAIN CONCOCTING THIS WHOLE STORY.
 VIRGINIA=  DONE .  WITH A PRETTY GOOD STORY TOO.
MY FRIENDS I HAVE NEVER APPRECIATED THE FANTASTIC CONCEPT CALLED “INSIDE” SO MUCH.  A DRY PLACE WITH DRY CLOTHES AND A ROOF.  ABSOLUTE HEAVEN ON EARTH.
TWENTY MINUTES LATER, THE SUN IS OUT AND ALL IS PERFECT. I WAS APPARENTLY JUST AHEAD OF THE FOLKS THAT WERE FORCED OFF THE ROUTE TO ABANDON THE RACE SO I REALLY GOT LUCKY ON THIS ONE. NADEEN ALSO IGNORED THE STOP REQUEST AND FINISHEDRUNNING 6 MIN MILES  TOO.   THE CONSENSUS OF THE MT LEMMON RUNNERS IS THAT INDEED THIS IS THE TOUGHEST/MOST ELEVATION GAIN  ROAD MARATHON  IN THE U.S.   WHAT A DAY WHAT A STORY, WHAT AN EVENT.
 THAT BFF’S  IS THE  SOGGY SAGA OF STATE NUMBER 25 VIRGINIA.
BE AWESOME TODAY AND REMEMBER TO LIVE LARGE AND PLAY BIG.

YOUR BLOG DIVA
NW.

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