Monday, 4 June 2012

USA Day 22 - Revisited (22/05/2011)

Due to a lack of internet signal at the time, I never managed to write about day 22 while I was in the USA. It's nice to be able to put that particular wrong to rights in this "USA revisited" blog post.

With a bit of luck and some good behaviour from the weather, day 22 of the run across the USA would see me break the 600 mile barrier. The day started at 6,800 ft on Route 89 in Utah and could be seen as having 2 sections. The first was a 9 mile stretch to Panguitch. After that the road would take me North East towards Circleville. As per usual, 31 miles of running was the aim.

I started the day in good spirits, pleased and motivated by the fact that "Team Run Geordie Run" had competed in the Edinburgh Marathon/half marathon that day, raising £1100 into the bargain for St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation. All 5 of them got a PB!

Pictured below from left to right are Louise Cooke (01:52:00 for half marathon), Mark Fleming (03:30:00 for full marathon), Jane Henderson (01:43:19 for half marathon), Mick Butler (01:46:00 for half marathon) and Alison Hudson (01:42:20 for half marathon). 

The support team went for a brief visit to Red Rock Canyon while I started running. I saw the pictures later in the day. It looked like another amazing place with some mind boggling rock formations.

I took a very early break at the 7 mile point to watch the Newcastle versus West Brom match on an internet channel that Comedy Jon had found. It was the last match of the season and ended 3-3. Never mind! It was only 65 days until I would get to see the pre season friendly in Columbus, Ohio.

After the short break, Comedy Jon took the photo below on the way to Panguitch. It was an impromptu shot taken through the RV window from the driver's seat. It's one of my favourite's from the entire run. It has almost everything that optimised the run across the USA; big wide American road, spectacular scenery and me pounding out the lonely miles.

I reached Panguitch, where we'd stayed the night before in a truck stop car park. That was yet another one of the free stops that was used in order to keep the costs of the trip down to a bare minimum.

If you look close enough at the image below you may be able to see me running towards the parked RV. The range of hills and ridges in the background is where the team had visited earlier in the day.

The impressive scenery continued on Route 89 on the long road out of Panguitch. I always considered myself to be fortunate to have a decent sized hard shoulder to run on. I would say that it was my "running track" for a good 95% of the run across the USA. I rarely get this kind of "luxury" when running on roads in the UK.

Just to keep the excitement levels up I got chased by a huge black dog at the 17 mile point. It saw me run  the quickest pace of the day by far! I had to cross the road 3 or 4 times to get rid of it. I think it got sick of dodging what little traffic there was and turned back.

I spent most of the afternoon watching the very impressive lightening storm to the east of Route 89. It was absolutely mesmerising! Fortunately for me, the storm stayed in the mountains.

I met the team for the final break of the day, at Bear Valley Junction, where Kirsty and Jon were exploring an abandoned property. It gave them something to do I suppose! I don't think I approved at the time. I didn't think it was right for the team to take risks like that. I suppose I was still in that "timid Englishman" phase of the journey.

My luck with the weather had appeared to run out and the onward journey was delayed slightly. I Tweeted the following:

"Waiting in the RV as there are huge forks of lightning and thunder up ahead.".

When it was safe to proceed, Kirsty joined me for the final few miles. Kirsty recently said the following about her time running with me.

"What I enjoyed most about my whole Run Geordie Run experience was the miles running with Mark. He is a totally down to earth guy, just trying to raise money for charities close to his heart and willing to put himself through serious physical and mental pain as well as financial burden to show his appreciation. I have so many great memories of running along sharing stupid stories and jokes or our ‘guess the celeb game’! I’m sorry to say Mark, but Kermit the Frog still isn’t a real guy!".

In the coming blog posts you read more about the games I used to play with whoever was accompanying me at the time. There are some really tenuous classics to come such as "Guess what Carlton and June had to eat at their anniversary dinner" or "Blow your own trumpet". I'm certain that the latter had real TV game show potential. You can read more about that much later!

Kirsty stopped for a toilet break after a while in some bushes and I ran on. She took ages! Being the gent that I am, I didn't turn around and see where she was at first. She surfaced out of the bushes 10 minutes later and admitted that she'd had a "bit of an accident". In my experience, whenever you mention "toilet" and "accident" in the same sentence or context it means something a bit different to the fate that had befallen poor Kirsty! She'd fallen over in some prickly bushes and her legs were in a bit of a state.

I finished running for the day in the pitch black after 32.4 miles. With the canyon road up ahead, I didn't feel that it was too safe to continue running in the dark.

On Comedy Jon's advice we parked in a residential side street in Circleville at about 9pm. It was a much safer place to stay than the spot at the side of the road that I'd originally suggested. As I'd hoped before setting off for the day, the 600 point was, indeed, breached with 626.5 miles in the back after 22 days of running.