This is the report of the adventure of Jim and Rebecca as it happened! I have put it in chronological order. --Anstr
Sunday, July 18: Jim will leave tomorrow morning. He leaves at 6 am from Thompson's Boathouse. Several of us will try to make it down to wish him off. Thompson's is right where Rock Creek enters the Potomac River. As I remember (don't hold me to this), there is parking right off Rock Creek Parkway. After you park, take the road that crosses the creek and goes into the courtyard of the boathouse. There shouldn't be much activity at that time of day, so you should be able to find our hero.
Pledges: As Jim left, he said that he had received pledges over $2000! If he can drag his butt over the towpath, you can make a pledge! If you have made a pledge and you want to use it to spur on some slackers, let me know about it and I will list it here. How to make a pledge.
Jim's Plans: Here are Jim's plans in his own words:
"I guess all that's left now is to start running. Oh, Boy!!!! Here's our plans. Rebecca will be biking with me. We plan to start each day NLT 6am (Mon 19 will definitely be 6am) other days may be earlier. I hope to average at least 4 1/2 mph, running at least 12 hrs but no more that 14 hrs daily."
Monday, July 19: It's 5:50 am at Thompson's Boathouse. There is a lot of activity but it's all 20-something people going off to their crew workouts. Except for a small group--Carolyn Gernand and a training partner, Joe Clapper, and me--and Jim and Rebecca. Jim is tall, slim, and ready. He is about to go on his feet further than anyone around. Meanwhile Rebecca is preparing for her dream vacation. She will accompany Jim on her bicycle for 370 miles--out and back on the C&O Canal Towpath.
After some goofing around, at 5:57, Jim starts running. IT has started. A 370 mile run begins with the first step. Carolyn and her friend peel off at Key Bridge and Joe and I accompany Jim to Fletchers. Jim does the first 3+ miles in 31 minutes. Much too fast to average. But he looks good and has a good attitude.
Joe and I leave Jim and Rebecca and go off to our stupid jobs. Meanwhile Jim goes off toward the Beltway, around Widewater, Great Falls, Whites Ferry, Brunswick, and Harpers Ferry.
8:30 pm--Monday Night: The phone rings. It's Jim. He is calling from the towpath. He is just short of Weaverton and still has 5 miles to go to Harpers Ferry. His attitude is fantastic but it has been hot and he has had to slow down. After Whites Ferry (35.5 miles) he has walked and shuffled a lot. The hot weather is taking its toll. No one said this would be easy!
Jim sounded good and upbeat. He says he will start earlier tomorrow morning. If it takes 15 hours the first day, what of the future? I don't know, but this undertaking is all about the mind and keeping the body's equipment in one piece. Speed is not important. Can he do it? Stay tuned!
Tuesday, July 20: Jim called in at about 9:45 pm. He had been at the motel in Hancock for awhile--124 miles from Georgetown where we saw him off yesterday morning! He is eating and resting. Today was a better day. It was cooler and they had some rain in the morning and again in the afternoon. It still was a 14 plus hour day, however. But Jim's spirit is great and he seems very confident.
Jim is looking forward to tomorrow. It's 60 miles to Cumberland and his turn around. From there, every step will be back home. Tomorrow's stretch includes the Paw-Paw Tunnel and the town of Little Orleans. It should be cool in that tunnel!
Rebecca had a bicycle equipment failure today. A bolt on the crank broke. They are planning to fix it at a bike store that is off the trail near Hancock.
Jim was really happy to hear of Chris Scott's pledge of $100 that Chris e-mailed me about today. Jim said that the pledge will really spur him on to Cumberland. If you want to make a pledge, let me know so I can let Jim know. That really seems to give him a lift. ...How to make a pledge.
Jim seems to have a positive attitude and was not complaining of any sores or pain. He is doing real well. What a Slug!
Wednesday, July 21: It's 2 pm and I am busy working. Ok, I'm not working. I am just taking a short break to check my e-mail. There are four messages with new, or updated pledges for Jim's run. Just as I am pondering this tribute to Jim's accomplishment, the phone rings. It's Jim.
At two o'clock, Jim is in Little Orleans. He is at the only establishment in town, a raunchy restaurant with dollar bills on the walls and a lot of grease. He has just downed a big meal. He and Rebecca have had a set back. It took three hours to find a bolt to fix the bicycle. They are only a third of the way along today's stretch. But Jim's spirit is high. He has gotten a good night sleep. His body is still in one piece. The weather is cooler. And he is confident. He expects to arrive in Cumberland near midnight.
Jim is looking forward to Cumberland where he can turn around and every step will be closer to home. He is very pleased and touched that many have made pledges because of his run. He sends thanks to very one.
I asked Jim to call tonight even if it's late, but I may not hear. But he is doing well and he should be back in Little Orleans tomorrow.
Pledge Update: Four people told me of new pledges today. Karsten Brown, Valerie Meyer, and Mark Russell all said they would make pledges. Additionally, Gary Knipling, spurred on by Chris's example, joined the $100 circle of pledges. These are the pledges that I know about. There were many more, of course, that went to Jim directly before he left. For example, Jim told me of very generous pledges from the Weitzels and their Pennsylvania group, the RATS...(Put the page back into left frame). I know that there are many more pledges out there. ...How to make a pledge.
Thursday, July 22--Happy Birthday Jim!: When last we heard from Jim, he was in Little Orleans at 2 pm yesterday. Well, it was quite an adventure after that. Jim and Rebecca arrived at the Paw Paw Tunnel at the height of a thunder storm. They waited it out in the tunnel for about an hour. Then they pushed on. They next came upon a "copper" snake across the trail. Finally, sometime between 1 and 2 am on Jim's birthday, he appeared at the Holiday Inn desk in Cumberland, Maryland, presumably saying, "Reservations for Moore. Oh, I have been out running, a little."
So Jim ran the entire tow path for the second time in his life. One hundred eighty-four miles in three days in very hot weather. Unfortunately, there wasn't much time for sleep. They started off this morning and pushed on back home. But there was just not enough sleep. At Paw Paw, they crossed the bridge over to the town of Paw Paw, West Virginia. Jim happened upon the major of the town and he (the major) arranged for Jim and Rebecca to get to Hancock.
At about 7:30 pm, Jim calls from Hancock. He is resting and preparing for the next day. He has left for a future challenge doing the entire C&O Canal Towpath both ways--he doesn't have the portion from Paw Paw to Hancock on the way back. But he is not giving up on the big challenge ahead. He is tired of finishing at night, so tomorrow, he will start at 4 am from Hancock. His goal is Harpers Ferry at 6 pm. Then, on Saturday, he again plans to start at 4 am with a goal of arriving at Thompsons Boathouse, and his finish, at 6 pm, or so.
Jim admits to some blisters, which he has lanced. Rebecca says in the background that he has had some "bad" points. He has put his head under most of the pumps along the path. The water is drinkable, but "tastes like shit." If you don't live in the mid-Atlantic region, you don't know that it has been hot and muggy. It is not real pleasant to walk around out there, let alone run.
Pledge Update: More pledges keep pouring in. Mike McCumber and Tom Midlam have made pledges and Bob Coyne and Frank Cirillo have joined the $100 level of support. I told Jim that I had to join Chris, Gary, Bob, Frank, and many others going for the $100 pop. Jim is really touched by all of this. He is running the canal because he likes to run, but he also wants to make something positive out of it--and he is. Let me know if you want to join in with a pledge. ...How to make a pledge.
Rebecca: Jim has given Rebecca a vacation that any wife would kill for. Dragging a bike over 300 miles in hot weather to care for a big ugly guy like Jim. What a woman! Just doing the towpath on a bike in three days is a major accomplishment. Jim, buddy, you owe her big time!
Saturday, July 24: No word from Jim yesterday. This was worrisome. The phone rings at 7:30 am this morning. It's Jim. He is still laughing. I don't know why.
Yesterday was brutal. It's the longest leg anyway, plus they had to take the detour at Dam 4. (You know when you get off the towpath at JFK? Well everyone has to get off there and go on the road. The road is a bit hotter in July than it is the Saturday before Thanksgiving!) They arrived in Harpers Ferry after midnight. They were tired.
Jim has decided, wisely, to take a day off. So now it's a seven day adventure. They will rest in Harpers Ferry today and get up real early tomorrow morning and still shoot for a 6 or 7 pm finish tomorrow in Georgetown.
Jim says that this is great for weight loss. His weight is way down. Each pump at a campground is an impromptu shower. Jim says that he does not have the debilitating signs of extreme dehydration, but he just doesn't have a lot of energy.
Jim and Rebecca will have some work to do with their daughters. For some unexplained reason, they were worried when their parents hadn't checked into the hotel by midnight last night. When the daughters finally talked to their parents, the daughters chewed them out. Jim got them calmed down, but not before one of them said, "Why can't you do normal things like other parents?" Oh, youth, how little they understand about the responsibilities of being a mature adult.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's schedule! Come out and join Jim and Rebecca for awhile. Bring ice!
Pledge Update: New pledges from Tom Midlam. Ben Clark and Marty Szekeresh moved to the $100 category. Marty said, "...considering the extreme weather he and Rebecca have had to endure, I want to up [my pledge] to $100." There is still time for you to pledge. ...How to make a pledge.
The Finish: I definitely plan to be at Thompsons on Saturday. I have promised Jim a cold brew. I think he is looking forward to that. Check back here for more plans. Brenda and I are talking about a barbecue. If you want to join us, e-mail me. If you want to run with Jim, go out and look for him.
Saturday, July 24--later update: Jim called with the plan for tomorrow. Remember, he hasn't been on time yet! Here is his planned schedule:
The finish is at Thompson's Boathouse at the mouth of Rock Creek. Be there or be square. Watch Jim down his cold brew. See the fantastic lady who accompanied Jim all the way. See his children look at him with the look disapproving children always have. See the ultimate joy of ultrarunning: "It's like hitting yourself on the head with a hammer. It feels good when you stop!"
Pledge Update: Mike McCumber has joined the $100 bucks club. Additionally, there are two anonymous persons who each are contributing $1 per mile. Jim saved them about $30 each on Thursday! ...How to make a pledge.
Sunday, July 25--6:58 pm: Who says nice guys have to finish last? Jim sure didn't! With Brenda and Carolyn holding the tape, Larry DeHof, Marty Szekeresh, and Jim's two daughters looking on, Jim finished his trek out and back on the C&O Canal Towpath. His lovely wife followed him on her bike. He was happy to finish! He inhaled the first beer I gave him and was hard at work on the second within minutes.
Jim's day started a little after 3 am as he and Rebecca left the Comfort Inn in Harpers Ferry. He still had to walk to the canal so he didn't really start on the towpath until about four o'clock. He rolled into White's Ferry to a crowd of well-wishers--Ben Clark, Bill Sublett, and MMT volunteer Bunny Runyan and husband Jim. He was on his schedule and looking good. Ben Clark got him again later on at 22 miles.
At about 3:30 pm, I am biking out toward Widewater and, just after the 11 milepost, there they are. Jim in his robin-egg blue shirt and Rebecca in a bright red shirt on the bike. Easy to see. That, and the big smile. Jim is doing a lot of walking, but he is running also. His goal is to finish at 7 pm, and I doubt he will. But his miles are close to 15 minutes--and the miles keep clicking off. Maybe he can do it.
A water fountain is an impromptu shower. Finally, at about the 6 milepost, I go ahead to Fletchers to get cold CokeTM. On the way, I see Larry DeHof running out to meet Jim. For the first time in my life, I ask the guy at Fletchers to give me a lot of ice in my CokeTM. I meet Jim at about the four milepost with the CokeTM. He likes it.
Jim crosses the finish line. He is very happy. Everyone else is very happy. There is so much to tell and now that he is back, he can tell it himself. But one story seems to tell it all. At White's Ferry, Jim and Rebecca see a big-ass motor bike outside the cafe they ate at. They struck up a conversation with the owner of the bike. After hearing of the run and its purpose, the guy pulled out $20 and gave it to Jim.
We don't even know if anyone has run the towpath both ways. Jim missed 30 miles, but he and Rebecca did it all by themselves. They walked off the path to motels and food. No team of volunteers helped them. Everything they had was on Rebecca's bike. If others attempt this feat and add the elusive section between Paw Paw and Hancock, they will never do it as simply and with as much of a smile as Jim. And it will be hard to have worse weather. Jim and Rebecca, we are proud of you. No one will ever repeat your accomplishment!
Pledge Update: Stuart Kern and Rosemarie Kelley found out about the run serendipitously and met Jim and Rebecca this morning at milepost 28. They have joined the $100 club. There is still time. Send off a pledge. Feel good the way Jim does! ...How to make a pledge.
Finally, I gotta say that while I am in awe of Jim and Rebecca's accomplishment, what I really respect is that Jim kept his calm, happy manner throughout. Ultrarunning is all mental. Jim is real good at the mental part!
Jim plans to start each day no later than 6am. He hopes to finish between 12 and 14 hours later. You can meet Jim along the towpath. Here is a list of points on the towpath with milages.
Jim is seeking pledges of "pennies per mile" to help feed the hungry. Pledges, paid by check to So Others Might Eat (SOME), 71 O Street N.W., Washington, DC 20001, POC: Linda Lynch (202) 797-8806, would by appreciated. All expenses and labor to run this event are being donated. 100% of gross revenues will go to So Others Might Eat (SOME). All donations are tax deductible.
Jim and Bill re-hydrating after the run!
Near Powells Fort Camp at MMT