I can't start this Day 17 blog post without giving a special mention to Harold at the Four Seasons RV park in Littlefield, Arizona. Harold gave us a very special rate to stay the night there once he learned about the reasons for the Support Team and I being in the USA. I also met Harold's Grandson who was a very polite young man. His father passed away last year after a battle with Cancer. This young lad was a credit to him and his Grandfather.
Harold and his beautifully kept RV park are yet another example of brilliant US hospitality and friendliness that has been experienced on this trip. The Four Seasons website can be seen here.
Meanwhile, back to day 17. I always knew the start of this day would be tricky with a pedestrian unfriendly 1st bridge (i.e. no hard shoulder) to negotiate in the Virgin River Gorge. Under Police advice I climbed down to the river and crossed several sandy areas before clambering up onto the Freeway in the canyon again. I was absolutely shattered by this point.
The next 8 miles through the canyon went quite well. I couldn't tell if I was going up or downhill at one point. Thankfully, as has been the case in recent days, the HGVs gave me plenty of room. There was one bridge in the canyon (see today's photo of the day) where there was no hard shoulder. I waited until the last HGV passed then sprinted for the other side. Usain Bolt wouldn't have caught me. As for looking over the side all the way down to the river, well that didn't happen. I don't like heights!
At the 10 mile point and out of the canyon, I decided to have what I like to call a "tactical snooze". The previous late night listening to Real Radio and updating the blog had taking it's toll. I was so tired!
I resumed the run as a completely different runner. Thanks to Comedy Jon's (Driver Jon's new name) banter, Chef Steve's (Driver Steve's new name) pasta and Wee Kirsty's (no name change) sports therapy skills I was running so much quicker. Miles 10 - 20 flew by as I decided to attack hill after hill in the valley. It's quite puzzling that every climb I've ran up so far in the USA, has seen a bit of pace and attack.
Comedy Jon's version of today's events were as follows:
Unfortunately we have a problem with Mark. A grumpy, dishevelled figure shuffled unhappily onto the freeway after a long sleep at 1:20pm. He was so rough I saw he had no Camelbak (told watergirl Kirsty he didn't want it) and wondered if he was capable of making a rational decision. Two and a half hours later, way ahead of schedule, he came off the freeway smiling, laughing, telling jokes and saying "Attack, Attack!" over and over.
We have got to the bottom of it tonight (well Kirsty gets pretty close to that area anyway) and the answer seems clear. Mark appears to have been abducted by aliens during the afternoon and replaced by a clone . We don't know how long the alien presence will last, but we are hoping it's the rest of the trip ;-)"
My GPS watch, the clever sod that it is, decided to move it's time forward one hour. Rightly so, as I had ran into Utah and consequently a new time zone (Mountain Time). This completely threw me for a short while and I decided that, after 26.1 miles, enough running had been done for one day and it was time to bite the bullet and lose that hour. So the time difference between my position and the UK is now down to 7 hours.
I was very pleased with my running today. I'm getting faster each day. I think today was the quickest I've ran to date. That in itself is surprising given the whole "down by the river" episode and the amount of climbs I ran up. I even caught the Support Team out at the 20 mile point. They were all having a snooze and didn't expect me for another hour. I like to keep them on their toes!
I'll end today once again thanking everyone who has made a donation. I'll be sending proper thankyous when I return to the UK. The fund for St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation now stands at £32,713.70. If you would like to make a donation then please use the following links. Any amount, be it great or small, would be greatly appreciated. Good night from St George, Utah.
(St Benedict's Hospice)
(The Children's Foundation)