Marathons, Mountains and Microbrews - A New Adventure Begins

12 June 2003.  I'm starting a new hobby this weekend.  I'm on the way to the Kentucky/West Virginia border to run a marathon in state number 44, so it's time to add a new twist.  I climbed a mountain once with John Lent, who not only had run marathons in all the states, he had also been to all the state highpoints.  I logged onto for more information. 

Being from Michigan, there aren't a lot of mountains, especially in the Lower Peninsula.  I suppose I should start out easy.  I left work late morning on Thursday and pointed my Aztek south.  Bellfountaine, Ohio wasn't very much of a detour.  Campbell Hill is located on a campus, and the gates are only open during the day, so my timing was perfect for my first state highpoint.  By around 6:00 I was standing at the very pinnacle of Ohio, after climbing out of my car and walking about 25 feet.  Like I said--starting out easy.

Next stop, Cincinnati, at the home of Sarann and Tom Mock.  Sarann and I met on a trip to Antarctica in 1997, and spent mornings on the ship before breakfast drinking coffee with a group of early risers.  She was 65 at the time, and was still doing an occasional 100 mile run.  Most of the time I wouldn't just drop in on someone at 9:30 at night unannounced, but I didn't think she'd mind.  She told me of a recent trip to the Easter Island Marathon, and we sat on the couch beside her Olympic Torch that she carried in the relay.  Sarann inspires me--a wonderful person, mother, and grandmother.  We visited until 11:00 and I left to head south.

After crossing into Kentucky, I stopped at the Hoffbrau House for a taste of the local brew.  There were lots of kids (in their 20's) there having a great time.  I just stayed for one, as I wanted to get away from the city before calling it a night.  Around 12:30 I pulled into a small town and found a quiet parking lot, crawled onto the air mattress in the back for a few hours shuteye.

I had until 11:00 a.m. to get to the airport in Lexington to pick up Nita K, another 50 States marathon runner, who would ride the rest of the way to the marathon with me.  About 4 hours later we pulled into Williamson, West Virginia.  She had made reservations for rooms about 20 miles away from the marathon, so after we got our bearings, we headed back to check in and rest a bit before heading to the pasta dinner.

The Hatfield & McCoy Marathon crosses back and forth over the border between West Virginia and Kentucky, and is held during the annual Hatfield and McCoy Reunion.  After dinner, we were treated to a dramatization of the legendary feud by two local men portraying Capt. William Anderson (Devil Anse) Hatfield and Randolph McCoy, the progenitors of the feuding clans.  The whole atmosphere was down-home, folksy.  We learned there are only two directions--up the holler and down the holler. 

This would be a slow, hot, but very enjoyable marathon.  As we started out Saturday morning, we were only a couple miles out before it started to rain.  It kept raining for most of the first half, before becoming sunny and WARM.  All that rain turned to humidity, as we worked our way up and down the mountain roads. 

After the half way point, we followed the river down the holler, and at a golf course crossed on a swinging bridge.  As I was nearly across, I felt the bounce of someone getting on behind me.  I paused for a minute to have some fun, jumping up and down on the bridge until my pursuer looked up and started laughing at me.  She would soon have her revenge.  She passed me as we continued along the river.  As we got to the end of the golf course to the garage where they store the carts, and as I turned to go up the little hill she was standing there with a garden hose in her hand, spraying me as I approached.  We had another good laugh and a very enjoyable cool down, and then got back on the road.

At around 22 miles, I was caught by a couple more friends.  The miles were going by slowly, as it was hot, humid, and well into the 70s by this time.  Still, the mountains were beautiful and the hills were manageable.  The finish line beckoned, as we headed back into town.  We finished at the Coal House in Williamson, WV.  I cooled down for a bit, then looked for the shuttle back to my car, around a mile or two away.  I started walking instead, and at an intersection managed to bum a ride in the back of a pickup truck back to the starting line.  I went in and bought two gallons of water and took a shower in the parking lot, then drove back to the finish area to pick up Nita K.

We never did find any local brews in West Virginia, but it wasn't for a lack of trying.  The airport beckoned, however, so we didn't have much time for our search after the race.  I dropped Nita K off at the Lexington airport and headed for Indiana.

The high point in Indiana is even lower than in Ohio, but just before dark, I managed to find it, only a couple miles out of Bethel.  The hike was a bit longer for this one, nearly 50 yards this time!  My camera wasn't focusing very good in dusk, and the mosquitoes were feasting on my blood as I signed the log book and hurried back to my car before being eaten alive.  I drove on until midnight or so before pulling into a convenient parking lot for another night in the Aztek.  At 10:30 Sunday morning, I met my local running group for coffee after their run.  Another marathon weekend.  A new adventure started.  Life is good.

44 states marathons.  2 states high points.

and the adventure continues....