An Experience We Won’t Forget


An Experience We Won’t Forget

Long before the starting gun goes off, your race experience starts. From the time you sign up it’s “race on”.  But it starts getting real once you are on location and can feel the energy of what’s to come.

My friends and I decided to spend the night on Friday so we wouldn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to drive to the starting line. In this small town there aren’t a lot of options for overnight stays- not even your typical hotel. Fortunately, my friend has an AirBNB in Williamson, WV and we stayed there.  The house suited our needs perfectly as far as layout, sleeping arrangements, bathrooms, etc. The beds were super comfortable. Which is extremely important when you need a good night’s sleep before a race. We all go to sleep with dreams of crossing the finish line. Only to be awakened by the unmistakable shrill of an Amber alert! Right at midnight we get the first one. Yes, I did say the first one. Two more were to follow before the dread of the 5:00 am alarm going off. (Sidenote: the 7 month old baby girl was found safe and unharmed) It’s hard enough to fall back to sleep after that kind of jolt. But add to it the fact that we were staying near the railroad tracks. From 11:00 pm to 5:00 am no fewer than 4 trains came through, whistles a-blaring! For icing on the cake, the neighbor’s dog felt the need to bark throughout the night as well. Needless to say, we didn’t get a solid night’s sleep. It’s disconcerting because you fear it will set the tone for how your race may go. When we got up, we laughed about all the interruptions and then just tried to shake it off.

Remarkably, we all felt pretty rested considering the events of the previous night. All full of hope and excitement we get on the bus at 6:20 to take us to the start. It’s June in southern West Virginia so you expect heat and humidity. For a pleasant surprise, it was actually a bit chilly. The temperature for the start was maybe 55 degrees. We line up, gun goes off and it’s showtime! With adrenaline “racing” through us, we start our trek of 13.1 miles through the countryside of rural WV. The course starts on a paved road and weaves into a trail for about a mile. The trail had some very muddy spots that were hard to get around. My slowest mile was actually on the flat trail trying to maneuver around the mud, not any of the hills we had to conquer. From the trail you come out onto a beautiful golf course. And on this golf course is a swinging bridge you have to cross. You come off the golf course back on to pavement. However, it is pretty desolate. Before you get back to more civilization you have the worst of the hills at mile 10! How barbaric is that? Putting a steep hill at mile 10. It’s just wrong. That being said, once you reach the top of that hill you breathe a sigh of relief and say to yourself “less than a 5K to go, you got this”. Just a little pep talk we all give ourselves at this point in a race.

All three of us dealt with injuries as we trained for the race. So we each had our goals for what we wanted to accomplish. The main one being we just want to finish! None of us were going for our best time. We were just so happy we had great weather and we were able to do this race together. Although “together” isn’t totally accurate. We all go at different paces. Monica and Todd are runners at different speeds and me being a walker, I know I will be the last of the three to cross the finish. But we are always together in our support for each other.

I should mention that my sister, Donna, always goes to away races with me as my cheerleader, as well as Monica and Todd’s too. By default, she really becomes everybody’s cheerleader as she gives shouts of encouragement and congratulations to all who cross the finish line. Todd was the first of us to cross, with Donna there smiling, clapping and hollering. Monica comes across a mere minute and six seconds later. Bringing up the rear, here I come 19 minutes later. We all had amazing performances!  Monica was in “fierce mode”, winning her age group out of 11 women.  Todd always has a solid performance due to his determination and dedication.  The first time I did this race was in 2014. Surprisingly, I still managed to shave 4 minutes off my last time!  Not bad for being older and broader now. One thing that kept me motivated is knowing that as a return participant there will be a sign somewhere on the course welcoming me back with a quote to make me laugh or to motivate me or both. The finishing temps were about 75 degrees and very low humidity. We couldn’t have ordered up a more perfect day.

When you cross the finish line you are greeted by Randall McCoy and Devil Anse Hatfield, dressed in full garb. It’s a great feeling when you give those guys a solid high five! Once we’ve all finished and bask in the moment for a bit, the next two things that cross your mind are SHOWER and FOOD! So we did just that. Went back to the house and cleaned up and went to a local restaurant, right on the finish line, for lunch. The food was delicious and hit the spot. But we still couldn’t leave town without getting a blizzard at DQ.

With our bellies and hearts full, we head back home with a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction, already making plans for next year’s race! Next year is the 25th anniversary – June 8, 2024. Mark your calendars to be there. With about 40 states represented this year, let’s get all 50 states next year!

Share this post on Facebook