Carolyn's note regarding the Andiamo and assorted W&OD thoughts

By Carolyn Gernand

Carolyn at AndiamoThis was my 7th Andiamo, counting the "Virtual Andiamo" in 1997 when Ed D. dropped me off in Purcellville in the snow on Dec 31.

The W&OD Trail and I go back a ways: I used it for my long training runs before I ever heard of the VHTRC. I know (or used to, anyway) all the cross-roads and streams and stores and parking lots and bathrooms. I especially love the "tunnels" of trees out west of Leesburg. I used to work with guys who had never run more than they had to for their military PT requirement, so I set up a training plan to get them, and also some civilians in the office, ready for their first 10K one fall. I made a chart with a row of 45 squares for each person, and over the course of the summer got them from Shirlington to Purcellville. I'd start early at the planned destination, run to the designated start point to meet them, run back to my vehicle with them, and then drive them back to theirs. We started with 2 and 3 mile sections and built up over the summer. I saved the "long" 6 mile stretch from Leesburg to Ashburn for "graduation:" when they filled in the squares for that section, they got a W&OD Trail t-shirt and knew they could run 10K.

One of the guys in the group used to ride the TRAIN to Paeonian Springs where his grandmother lived!

I ran one day with the wheelchair athlete for whom the memorial bench at Belmont Ridge Rd. is dedicated.

On the W&OD Trail, I have seen a kingfisher in Leesburg and several indigo buntings, at Rte 28 and east of Leesburg, but none recently. I did see a hawk swoop right across the trail in front of me this year and heard an alert early-morning cyclist exclaim "Beautiful!" at the sight. Saw a few chipmunks and a groundhog this year, too, but for highest wildlife counts you have to get out there really early.

I said one day, at the gym I was going to in 1994, that I thought it would be kind of interesting to run the whole trail, end-to-end, in one day, but that that was probably impossible. And a woman at the gym said, "My club does that! It's called the Andiamo Run." And that is how I discovered the VHTRC and ultra-running.

The Andiamo Run was my first ultra event, back in 1994. After a couple of times on the pavement, I have consistently stayed on the equestrian trail. I would like to thank Jaret for the generous "2 or 3" bonus miles for the bridle trail, but I fear it is nowhere near that much extra -- probably less than the side trip he took to the convenience store. I enjoy the off-pavement option and highly recommend it. Thanks to all who helped out: Anstr, Vicki, Michele, Bunny, Helen (the surprise aid in Reston was great). I was too slow for the Vienna stop this year, but with all the other aid, numerous water fountains, and an ice-cream stop at Partlow's in Ashburn, my portable convenience store held plenty to get me through. I did eat just about all the food I carried, though, including my V-8 and my Yoo-Hoo, and I actually slurped down the very last of my Gatorade just before the final "climb" at Shirlington. No, I did not carry a pocket knife, matches, kindling, or "space blanket": after all, this was not the Moonlight Run!

This was the Andiamo, and yes, I am one of those who love it!

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