Marathon 51 - Freedom's Run, WVA Story*Training*Injury*Schedule*Spectators*Statistics

After the Timberman, I figured I needed to get back in the saddle and start working on the rest of the states. A quick 18 miler and a few sorter runs seemed to be enough.

I saw that West Virginia had the new Freedom's Run, to be held in the 4 national parks that make the civil war battlefields surrounding Harpers Ferry and Antietum: Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Antietam National Battlefield, and the Potomac Heritage Trail.

Southwest started me off on the wrong foot with a 2 hour delay into Baltimore. Arriving at Rush hour, the hour trip took two, and both my Garmin Nuvi and the Magellan in the rental-car added to my pre-race anxiety.

Still, I arrived at Shepard University in time for packet pickup and the pasta dinner.

They bussed us from the Hotel to the start, at the visitor's center outside Bolivar. One of the Park Rangers in costume started us with a read-set-go.

Easy running thru the park, and into Historic Harpers Ferry. Thru the restored downtown, then down a rather tricky circular steel staircase, to the C&O Canal trail, and then 15 miles of blissful running on the path beside the potomac.

Wonderful. Perfect. Peaceful. Easy. Spiritual.

We came upon the out-bound 10K runners passing us on the left, for about a mile. then a turn off the path, into 2 miles of hell.

I should always be wary when the course description proclaims "net elevation loss," and looking at the elevation chart showed only 2 real hills. This first one took everything out of me, with the worst part at mile 17-18 entering Antitum.

I wanted to stop and read the plaques and monuments as we wound thru the battle fields, but I was just too tired by that point.

Around this time, I came upon Ben Navarrete, the runner I seemed to see everywhere. We chatted briefly, then I left him behind.

I started passing half marathoners. I kinda liked they way this was laid out, so we all weren't competing for the same turf at the same time.

There was a volunteer at 26, just before entering the stadium, with a large American flag and pole, that he was letting runners finish the marathon with. Since I didn't carry it from the beginning I didn't feel that it was right to finish with it, so I declined.

I was disappointed at the finish, with only some bagels and water for post race food. No one could tell me where the busses to the hotels were, and I ended up walking around the stadium -- something I didn't need. The bag-drop area was at the other end of the stadium, on the outside, just dropped there, with no one watching and/or handing them out. There seemed to be no finish pictures, and no finisher medals (I learned later that these are being hand made and will be sent to the finishers).

Eventaully, I found the shuttles back to the Hotel, and boarded with 6 other guys. about 10 miles out, the bus had a blowout, and we were stuck on the side of the road for a half hour or so. We sat around tell jokes till a backup bus showed up.

Not bad for an inaugural event. Hopefully next year they'll get the minor stuff figured out.