7 of 12…Timmy’s Challenge…Cairo, WV

Well, I am very much behind on my Marathon blog updates! #7 has been done for 3 months now, and I haven’t lifted a finger to write about it until November! First of all, and most important, I survived  #7 of 12 marathons! It wasn’t easy by any means, from getting there late in the night, to getting back in the car and making the seven hour trip back after the finish, it was a long two days!

After watching my oldest son’s first football game I climbed into the car to begin the seven hour trip to a little town in northern WV named Cairo. The race actually began in North   Bend State Park and ran through Cairo. So I decided to camp at the State park so that I wouldn’t have far to go for the start. Well, it turned into an adventure in itself to just find the state park!  The GPS told me to turn onto roads that looked like one lane driveways with steep drop offs on both sides and a strange looking kid playing a banjo at the end!? The GPS told me one way, and the park signs told me another! I went with the signs and it ended up costing me 30-45 minutes extra time! That’s not good when it’s after 10pm, I haven’t eaten anything that would help me at the next days race and I haven’t even found the park! You know it’s bad when your GPS says you are at your destination and you’re staring at a switchback road going straight up a mountain in the pitch dark with no clue where your are! Well about ten minutes later I came across an unlit sign that said Welcome toNorth Bend!!?? Now all that was left was to find my camp site… down the switch back mountain road I went, to find my campsite. But it was so dark I couldn’t read any of the site #’s to know which one was mine! After turning my bright headlights on all the sleeping campers, I finally found a place to rest my head.

I might have slept 3-4 hours in the back of the mini van, but woke up to a beautiful morning in the mountains. After breakfast I jumped in the van and drove the long 400yds to the start line. I was ready for the race!

 The highlight of the trip was definitely when my Dad, Judith and their new dog Maggie made the drive from Morgantown, WV to watch the race. Marathons aren’t the most exciting races to watch, being that you see everyone start and then wait over three hours before you get to see them finish. But they were there for the whole thing. They had the pleasure of meeting some of the people I have met along this adventure, like Brian the young speedster that was trying to qualify for Boston, and Jose’ who was running his 79thMarathon. Dad and Judith were able to watch the pre-race nerves, the excitement and camaraderie of a marathon…pretty cool!

The race itself was very challenging. We ran the entire race on an old rail trail line. Now, it sounds cool and I thought that it would be but the problem was that the whole time you are surrounded by a tunnel of trees. There are no vistas to look at, no fans to cheer you on, and only one town to run through and there was not a person to be seen! Trees… that’s all you saw for 3:45. Another runner said it best when she said “it was eerily lonely”!  I like to be alone when I run, but I didn’t see another runner for the last 6 miles of this race! None in front, none in back. Just a trail, trees and wondering how much farther the next water stop was. The one thing that was really cool and different about this race was the deep, dark, eerie tunnel that we ran through. You were given a flashlight before you entered the tunnel that you dropped at the other side, and picked back up on your return visit. It was so dark that you couldn’t see your hand when you put it up to your face… DARK!!! As you ran with this not so bright light, you could see the bricks that formed the tunnel, they seemed to get closer and closer as your eyes tried to adjust. Some freaky claustrophobic feeling!! You would feel like you were about to run into the wall, but when you reached out to touch it, you were 3 feet from it!!

Well I ended up finishing in 6th place overall, and 2nd in my age group! Not bad for a freaked out, board, undernourished, 44yr old getting ready to climb back into the car for the 7 hour trip back home!

All in all, I had a good trip, but won’t put that race on my calendar again. A special thanks to Dad and Judith for making the trip down and being a part of a pretty cool personal goal. Hope to see you again soon.

 Off to #8, and theBlue RidgeRelay!


About getfitcarolinas

Hello, I'm Tim Junkins, a certified personal trainer by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), as well as a wellness coach and nutritionist. I am an avid runner, and have completed numerous marathons – qualifying for the Boston Marathon over four times. I am currently attempting to run 12 marathons in 12 months! Check this blog for updates on my progress and for information on the races I'm running. My current personal best finishing time is 3:09 - from the Thunder Road Marathon in December of 2010.
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