Hatfield _ McCoy Marathon Recap

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					Hatfield & McCoy Marathon Recap
A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 1; 23rd Edition
602.6 miles run
759.8 miles to go
Race: Hatfield & McCoy Trail Marathon
Place: Williamson, WV
Miles from home: 447.2
Course Difficulty: 6 out of 10
Course Enjoyability: 6 out of 10
Weather: Warm temperature (high 60s); sunshine, no wind.

To begin, there was a great deal of traveling this weekend. Williamson, WV was not
close enough to any airport to make flying a reality but it was just far enough away
driving-wise (approx. 7 hours) to make it formidable indeed (especially after a marathon).
Unfortunately, I booked lodging late for this marathon and the closest place I could find a
"hotel" was a three-bedroom hunting/ATV lodge 12 miles away from the starting line in
beautiful Matewan, WV. An interesting little town with an enormous Berlin Wall like
structure surrounding it (we later found out Matewan has almost been washed away by
the flooding of a nearby river on a few occasions), I found out that the marathon ran
down and then back out of the only two "streets" in Matewan right around the halfway
point. The owner of the lodge also owned the Matewan Bed & Breakfast and promised to
be outside cheering when I ran by.

Back to the lodge. Have you ever seen the movie My Cousin Vinny? Well, then you will
understand how my night of sleep before the race went. For those who haven�t seen
this cinematic masterpieces ("Did you say 'yoots'?"), about 100 feet from my bedroom
window were train tracks which allowed a VERY active train to make close encounter
passes about 5 or 6 times during the middle of the night. The most hilarious of all these
being when we woke up at 5:30am to begin getting ready and about 5:31 AM a blast
went off from the train cruising by which I am pretty sure would have woken the dead. In
fact, I am 100 percent sure this was an alarm clock for the locals to
begin...well...whatever the heck it is they do. (When we mentioned this train to the owner
the next day his response was: "Well, trains are a way of life here in Matewan". Great.
Add another note to self in my checklist of marathons in the weeks to come: make self
aware of the close proximity of loud mass transporting mechanisms to my lodging).

First Half Marathon: 1:33:30

I am not really sure why this is considered a West Virginia Marathon as 99f it is run in
Kentucky but I am not one to argue with rifle- toting men dressed in authentic pioneer
garb (at least I think it was �garb� and not �the clothes I put on today�).
With the lodge being at the halfway point, we had to drive to Williamson for the packet
pick-up which allowed me to see what the first 13 miles had in store for me first-hand.
Our trip to Williamson actually was made by crossing into Kentucky right out of
Matewan, driving through Kentucky, then crossing back into WV into Williamson for
one block. However, this drive passed the starting point in Goody, Kentucky just outside
of South Williamson, which was just (wait for it) south of Williamson, WV but located in
Kentucky. Follow that? Good. As confusing as that was this trek prepared me for a
relatively flat to slightly uphill first 6 miles followed by a back-breaking mile long hill
that crested slightly after mile 7. Otherwise, I doubt I would have known the difficulty of
this hill and the unknown is one of the worst things you can deal with in a marathon. But
before we get to that, allow me to set the stage.

In Goody the morning of the race, I ran into Jeff Bishton (in what I think was our 4th
marathon together this year) who is always distinguished by his SunDevil cowboy hat.
He introduced me to a young fella (21 or so) who has run hundreds of marathons
(apparently he has wealth I have yet to acquire).

Following these pleasantries in the Food City parking lot, we lined up for a quick prayer,
and started the race with a shotgun start (natch). Right before this however, we found we
were in the largest starting field in Hatfield & McCoy Marathon history. There were 8 of
us. (I am kidding). But with over 300 full marathoners toeing the line, my honorary
Hatfield heart swelled.

Like I mentioned, the first 6 miles were all just build-up to the aforementioned monster
hill. And as slowly as we ascended this hill on the front side, we found we were going to
descend it twice as quickly on the other side because of the steep grade. It was like
someone took the entire course of Deadwood, smushed it together and placed it all
directly on this one hill.

However, after going up and back down Mt. QuadKill, it was smooth-sailing for the rest
of the first half as a shaded, flat, stretch kept the intermittent sun off our shoulders. As
warm as it could have been in the hills of Kentucky in June, we were all pleased that
some deep woods fog kept the direct sunlight from permeating through the first 13.1
miles and sapping our energy. In addition, I had the company of two gentlemen for a few
miles (Dave and Shawn) who I would see many times during the day (well, at least
Shawn, as Dave ended up toasting us both in the end). But even better than the two-
legged variety of companionship was the little brown dog who followed me for over 3
miles. Step for step, I could not believe that this dog was keeping pace with me (where I
was running slightly over 7:20 miles). At one point, when the course winded into
Matewan, I had to reluctantly leave my little companion behind.

But true to his word, Dr. Garland (the B&B proprietor and owner of said lodge) was
standing right before the half to yell words of encouragement for me: "Hey!!"

Second Half: 1:43(ish)

After a 4 block run in West Virginia, we passed through the floodwall surrounding
Matewan and headed back into Kentucky. This, my dear readers, is where the spectators
became very sparse, the course turned into a trail, the trees and scenery became rather
pretty and I am pretty darn sure I heard Dueling Banjos. Chances are that Shawn and I
ran the next 7 miles within sight of each other:
1. Just so we knew that we were running in the right direction and;
2. So we could tell the sheriff where we had last seen the other's body (I mean, he was a
nice guy and all but there was a race to be run)

At mile 19, I saw my travel companion for the weekend and world�s greatest
publicist for the first time. Let's just say the course had not been very car/spectator
friendly until this point (and while not the same type of pretty as Deadwood, held its very
own scenic deep woods viewing) and the Gatorade she had waiting for me was very
welcome indeed. By now the sun had burnt off the early morning fog and it was
beginning to get hot. For the next few miles, Anne would drive ahead, and come back to
tell me what the course was like. This was greatly appreciated for many reason, one being
that there were a couple of places before I first saw her where there had been some slight
trepidation as to which fork in the road I would be taking. In addition, I had heard there
was another widowmaker of a hill at mile 23 or so and one of her trips ahead confirmed

Again, knowing ahead of time that you are not going to be having that much fun makes
that hard parts that much easier. I relayed this information to Shawn and his retort was
simple: "If there is another hill like what we saw at mile 6, I will be walking it". While
not as bad, the hill we came to definitely could put a little hitch in your giddyup.
Somehow, however, I gained some strength from somewhere, tackled it hard knowing the
last few miles were straight, and strode those last few miles with relative ease. Anne had
raced ahead and again I heard the hearty cheer from a crowd who had been informed by
all who would listen that this was my 23rd marathon of the year.

I crossed the finish line in 3:16:23 which was good enough for 6th place overall and
second in my age group (I REALLY hate being 30. For those who don�t know, since
the 1st three positions don�t count for age group awards, that means of the other two
people ahead of me, one of them was in my age group. Of course he was). I received a
huge trophy and got to talk with David Hatfield (the race director) for a few minutes
before Shawn came striding in to more cheers.

Normally I end here but with my friend Mauriella on the course, Anne and I decided to
go back and encourage her on to the finish. It is rare I get to be a cheerer and a spectator
so I jumped at the chance. A few miles back we found her and later she told us that us
appearing and giving her a drink right where we did had really spurred her on. That sort
of knowledge really makes me happy. She finished very strong for a hard course and a
warm day and continued her quest to run a marathon a month this year.

But the star of the show was neither the winner of the race, me or any other human.
That�s right, near the finish line, the little brown dog from mile 8 (and probably even
earlier) had been following one person or another for mile upon mile. As we bid
Mauriella adieu to rush back to the end of the race, I quickly found the race director and
let him know that this dog had been running the entire course. Many people mentioned
they had encountered him at one place or another. Collarless and looking rather fresh he
had ran probably just as far if not further than any of us as he apparently would double
back and wait for the next runner. With very little convincing, I was able to get Mr.
Hatfield that this little fella not only needed, but deserved a medal.

Sure as could be, my four-legged friend appeared down the stretch, trotting alone. He had
apparently either picked up a scent or had been directed this way by someone but
regardless was moving towards the finish. While he seemed a little skittish around the
crowd, he kept moving forward. At one point he stopped running, so I ran forward,
grabbed a plate of food (some sort of "vittles" I am sure) and coaxed him across the finish
line. Flashbulbs went off and before we knew it, the little guy was wearing a finisher's
medal. McCoy (we named him) seemed barely winded and happily took a glass of water
before sitting down at our feet and calmly watching the rest of the festivities. An apparent
stray, we made sure that McCoy got the attention he needed before we packed up our
stuff and headed back to WV for some well-deserved showers.

Before long I was back on the road and 7 hours later fell into the world�s most
comfortable bed for a night of blissful sleep. But alas, there is no rest for the weary as
next weekend I once again travel to high elevation in Estes Park, Colorado to go for
number 24.

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