Thursday, June 11, 2009

Run the US for Sarcoma 2001

Run the US for Sarcoma


4/8/01 Kansas City MO. My 65th birthday found me at the Bloch Foundation's beautiful Cancer Survivor's Park in KC, preparing to start a 1300 mile run to Washington DC. The sendoff committee consisted of Angi Pitts (my hostess for the past 2 days), Melissa Wohlers and her mother Sandy (an LMS survivor), her father and her 2 young children, plus cameramen from 2 local TV stations. I was carrying about 9 pounds of gear in a Mountainsmith torso pack: one change of clothing (shirts blazoned with the sarcoma dragon), a camera, a cell phone, my book of maps of the whole route, vaseline & duct tape for my toes, 2 bottles of water, credit cards, and a small pouch containing a lucky penny from my son, a St. Christopher medal from my wife, and a 15-year AA coin. The run started at 11:40 AM, and within a couple of hours I was moving through the outskirts of Kansas City on the Blue Parkway, which took me 15 miles to a motel in Lee's Summit, in time to see the start on the 5 o'clock news. Not a very thrilling run, but a start at least. (15.0 miles)


4/9/01 Lees Summit to Holden, MO. What had the makings of a killer day (34 miles in record heat in the high 80's) was made much easier by my KC crew. Melissa drove my pack the last 20 miles to the B&B in Holden, and alerted my host there, who picked me up about 4 miles out of town. Today was my introduction to typical MO terrain: what looks like a straight road on a map is a perpetual undulation over billowing hills. What level ground there is in MO is used for farming, not roads. (30.3 miles)

4/10/01 Holden to Warrensburg, MO. Today began with an interview with a reporter from the Holden Gazette, who kindly gave me a ride back to where I left off yesterday. I'd prefer not to backtrack like this: it's discouraging to have to retake territory I've already been through. The highlight of the day was a spectacular thunderstorm. Lightning hit a barn about a mile away, and was coming closer as I sprinted across an overpass which left me the highest object for miles around. A little later, I passed some men working on a power line, and asked them if there was any danger in being on the road. They assured me that the lightning would hit the power poles first, so I was probably safe. So, admiring the show and the feeling of excitement in the air, I continued to Warrensburg, where I was met by my hostess and driven south a few miles to her delightful B&B at Brawley Creek. A little later we learned that a tornado had touched down in Warrensburg just after we left! (22.7 miles)

4/11/01 Warrensburg to Sedalia, MO. A taste of freeway running on US 50, with a 30-40 mph crosswind all day from Warrensburg to Sedalia. Before leaving, had a good interview with the Warrensburg Gazette. All the media people I have talked to have been quite encouraging, and have agreed to use the term "sarcoma" rather than "a rare cancer." (27.6 miles)

4/12/01 Sedalia to Pilot Grove, MO. I finally reach the Katy Trail, after a 5 or 6 mile trek through the streets of Sedalia, getting several different directions on how to find it. It is constructed of crushed limestone, well-packed and graded, about 15 feet wide, along the abandoned Missouri, Kansas and Texas (MKT) railroad. I will follow it all the way across the state to St. Charles, 185 miles in all. The first part is very remote and rural, and I made the mistake of expecting food to be available along the way. Apart from water from a garden hose in the misnamed Clifton City (5 or 6 houses and an abandoned store), there were no supplies all day, and my earlier anxiety about the weather was replaced by worry about my fuel supply. Luckily, I ran into a couple of women who were hiking the whole trail, who shared some soup and crackers and a candy bar with me, so I went on my way with new vigor. These ladies were about my age, and both carried 35-pound packs, which earned my respect, especially as this part of the trail seemed to be all uphill. The only eating place open in Pilot Grove,my destination, was a very smoky bar and grill, but the butcher in the market, who was just closing up, fixed me a roast beef sandwich. I can see that I will have to make sure of food at all points on this trail. (26.6 miles)

4/13/01 Pilot Grove to Rocheport, MO. The morning's run brought me to Boonville, where I had my first sight of the Missouri River. I had lunch there while being interviewed by a young reporter from the Boonville Gazette, who accompanied me across the bridge to show me where the trail continued. From there to Rocheport the trail was quite lovely, the trees (bare a few days ago) leafing out into shady tunnels overhead, and redbud and cardinals producing flashes of bright color contrasting with the fortress-like bluffs that loom over the north side of the trail. The hamlet of Rocheport, where I spent the night, appears Oz-like at the end of a 200+ foot tunnel. My host, Rodney O'Neal, is a veteran of numerous transcontinental bike trips. His B&B somehow found room for me and 17 6th-graders, visiting there as a reward for community service. (25.0 miles)

4/14/01 Rocheport to Hartsburg, MO. A warm day. I unwisely replenished my water supply after lunch at Cooper's Landing, then ran half a mile before I tasted it. Phoo! Undrinkable salt water produced by a recent dose of water softener. Seeing another store nearby, I dumped it, only to find that the store was closed. Suddenly, the day seemed a lot hotter, and there I was, next to one of the world's great rivers, like the Ancient Mariner, "water all around him, and not a drop to drink." So I had a dry hour until Easley, 5 miles down the trail. Some of my problems of this kind stem from the fact that the trail is used mostly by cyclists, who can cover a lot more ground between stops than a runner can. Apart from a couple of joggers near towns, the only pedestrians beside myself were the two ladies I met the first day, and they were carrying all their food. My shelter for the night was an old hotel, the Globe, lovingly remodeled into a B&B by owner Jeanette. The town, like many of the others along the trail, seems to skip over the 20th century and exist in the 19th. (The illusion was shattered somewhat by rowdy revellers at the bistro next door, whose racket carried even over a late-night thunderstorm). (24.7 miles: 1st week, 171.9 miles)

Date: 4/15/01

Entry: Hartsburg, MO. I waited for a cab at the Jefferson City Pavilion for nearly as long as it took me to run the 10.3 miles from Hartsburg. Since my weekly mileage so far was nearly double my previous maximum, it seemed sensible to spend an extra day in the capitol city. This was also an opportunity to spread the word about sarcoma, via an interview on the local TV channel (CBS). A great deal of information was transferred during the 45-minute interview, ably conducted by Kelley Koh, although some points were undoubtedly lost when it was edited down to 1.5 minutes for the 10 o'clock news. Still, several people told me they saw it, and the word sarcoma was mentioned prominently, so I guess it didn't go to waste. (10.3 miles)

Date: 4/17/01

Entry: Jefferson City, MO. Major running day, probably the longest of the whole trip. My day off helped, as my energy was good the whole day, as I chugged along the Missouri at a steady 11-minute clip despite being chased at one point by eight howling beagles. Actually, chasing was on their agenda, but not on mine, so I stood my ground and shied a couple of rocks at them, and we wound up with a standoff. I could still hear them half a mile down tshe trail, cursing horribly. The bluffs a few miles before the aptly named Bluffton are magnificent, looming over 200 feet above the trail, with many caves and overhangs. (33.2 miles)

Date: 4/18/01

Entry: Bluffton, MO. Another "easy" day, to Hermann, founded about 150 years ago by German immigrants, many of whose descendents still live here. This is in the heart of the Missouri wine country. A brief interview with the editor of the Hermann paper. (10.0 miles)

Date: 4/19/01

Entry: Hermann to Marthasville, MO. Much of the trail today was between the bluffs and the river, and there is a great flood plain of farmland, with the river running now north, now south of it. Between the bluffs on both sides, the valley appears to be about 3 miles wide, and the bluffs are about 200 feet high, so the river must have excavated about a cubic mile for every 9 miles of its course, or about 20 cubic miles over the 180+ miles of my run on the Katy Trail. Presumably all this real estate is now down in the Mississippi delta. I have time for all these observations, because I am seldom distracted by encountering another human being. There may have been more activity on the trail in the days of Lewis and Clark. (20.6 miles)

Date: 4/20/01

Entry: Marthasville to Defiance, MO. A very good interview at the B&B with Dave Dorr of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Charles edition), a very well-known journalist here, and a prostate cancer survivor. He had read the website and was quite familiar with the whole project. The photographer took many pictures, both there and later on the trail. A woman came out at one point and yelled at him for trespassing, but when she found that he was covering a story about a man running for cancer, she seemed mollified. Some of the local landowners have been hostile to the trail, and there are signs all along warning trail users not to trespass on the adjacent property. Perhaps later in the year there is more traffic: now the trail is nearly deserted. Yesterday there were only 3 cyclists, two going the other way (met them again later in St. Charles), and the third yelled "on your left" just behind me, making me almost jump out of my skin. While passing through Marthasville, I was interviewed by Ruth Flynn of the Marthasville Record. She had a friend who is a sarcoma survivor, and I gave her information about the ACOR lists. Stayed in Defiance (wonderful name!) at the beautiful Parsons House B&B, whose owner refused payment. (22.1 miles)

4/21/01 Defiance to St. Charles MO. Bade farewell to the trail today. This last stretch was the most populous and the most desolate (as far as food and drink are concerned). Being close to St. Charles, many families were out on their bikes enjoying the nice weekend weather (I think I have brought a drought to MO: since the thunderstorms on 4/10, not a drop of rain has fallen on me). But there was no food or water available for the 20 miles of today's leg. I ate well in the morning and fortified myself with E-

Caps along the way, but my two water bottles were exhausted after 12 miles, and I felt like a car running on empty until three boys on a trampoline let me refill from their garden hose. Had dinner with Karen Arbuckle and her 2 sons (11 and 14) after trying in vain to get on the net via her laptop computer. She lives near Mitchell IL, and will pick me up there Monday to use her home computer, which I hope will allow me to update my log. (20 miles)


Date: 4/22/01

Entry: St. Charles to St. Louis, MO. Warm and humid. I crossed the Missouri River on the Hwy 370 bridge, which has a nice bike lane. Afterwards improvised a route on about 1.5 miles of railroad track, looking around nervously from time to time. Soon after I got off the track met Mark Williams, a local ultrarunner who recognized me from the website. I gave him my cell phone #, and he was going to try to get some runners for tomorrow. I told Channel 4 (CBS) I was over the river, and they sent John, a cameraman, who shot me in motion from several locations. This appeared on the 5:30 local news, with a voiceover informing viewers that I was a 64-year-old whose 17-year-old granddaughter had sarcoma (at least they used the word!), and that I expected to reach Chicago by June! It was strange running through city streets after 10 days watching spring unfold on the peaceful Katy trail. (12.6 miles)

Date: 4/23/01

Entry: St. Louis, MO. A day of frustration. I have called 5 TV stations in St. Louis numerous times since arriving in St. Charles, following up on Fritz's advance work, and notified them all what time I would be crossing the Chain of Rocks bridge (the one the highway dept. had told me was OK for pedestrians), my route in going there, and my cell phone #. I arrived on time at noon in a driving rain, and found no-one there and the bridge closed! No one had told me that it was only open weekends. After a dismal half hour or so, I trudged back 2 miles to the nearest motel. I made some calls, and John Bower, of TrailNet (the organization the manages the bridge), kindly offered to open it up for me the next morning. This has been as close as I have come, in the 18 months I have spent on this project, to quitting entirely. Because so much of the run lies in rural areas, the lack of publicity in St. Louis is a major setback. I don't know how we could have done more than we did to get the word out -- certainly there was more advance notice here than in Kansas City, which gave me a good sendoff. I also talked to a representative of the American Cancer Society, and was told that they don't publicise fund-raising events unless they get the funds. When I asked if contributions could be earmarked for sarcoma research, she was not sure: she said they could be designated for research. I don't know how much the run may make, but I certainly wouldn't want it to disappear into the ACS general research fund. (8 miles, not counting backtracking)

Date: 4/24/01

Entry: St. Louis to Mitchell, IL. At last, across the Mississippi! John Bower opened the gates for me, then drove to the other side to open the Illinois gate. Not liking to keep him waiting, I picked up the pace, and crossed the mile-long span in 8:34, pack and all, arriving in Illinois a little past 9 AM. The weather had changed to sunny and cool, and I had a pleasant run to my motel east of Mitchell. So far, IL has been as welcoming as St. Louis was indifferent. Soon after I crossed the bridge, a car passed me, then turned around, and the young driver said "you're running all the way to DC?" When I nodded, he pumped his fist and cheered. On impulse, I stopped in Mitchell for a haircut and told the barber about the run. After I left (he refused payment for the haircut), he called two local papers, and sent his next customer across the street to where I was having lunch, with the names and phone numbers to call. By mid-afternoon, in the motel, I had interviews and phone conversations with 5 Madison county newspapers. In the evening, Karen Arbuckle took me to her house in Maryville, where I was finally able to start posting my log. (9.2 miles)

Date: 4/25/01

Entry: Mitchell-Lebanon IL. Today's run was a fairly complicated route bearing east through suburban neighborhoods, then dropping straight south along state highway 4, which looked like a quiet country road on my map, but turned out to be the road from hell for runners, full of semis taking a shortcut between interstates, narrow, with little or no shoulder. Before this, I had a couple of photo sessions from the Belleville and Collinsville newspapers. It was a cold day, and I was glad when the pictures were done so I could put my coat on (I had left it off to show the sarcoma dragon on my shirt). My hosts in Lebanon, John and Betty Carter, made me at home with their friendly conversation, and made sure the local paper know I was there. (23.7 miles)

Date: 4/26/01

Entry: Lebanon to Breese IL. An unexpected bonus this morning: breakfast with Craig Virgin, an American running legend who was 2-time US cross-country champ and has several distance records and Olympic medals to his credit. Craig was born, raised, and still lives in Lebanon, where he has a running-related business called Frontrunner. He still runs, despite having suffered a nearly fatal car crash four years ago. Also at breakfast, an interview with the editor of the Lebanon newspaper. After a late start, I had only a short run to my next stop, in Breese. (12.0 miles)

Date: 4/27/01

Entry: Breese to Carlyle, IL. Many B&Bs are almost museum-like in character, like restored antiques, but this one is basically a home on a farm, a very comfortable one (with a hot tub, to my delight), where one feels immediately like a visiting relative. Besides being a genial hostess, Sandy Timmermann lined up an interview for me with a young reporter from the Breese newspaper. She also lent me her computer, so I was able to continue posting this log, and catch up on my Email. Another short run, to a motel in Carlyle. I had slept badly the night before, having unwisely had a cup of coffee in the afternoon, and was feeling pretty wiped out despite the short distance, so I laid low at the motel and played hookey from the media for a change. I needed to recharge because the schedule called for nearly 100 miles in the next four days. (12.0 miles)

Date: 4/28/01

Entry: Carlyle to Salem IL. Not a memorable day. The two lanes of route 50 stretched out eastward through huge flat fields, either new-ploughed or just planted. To a westerner, the 360 degree horizon is an awesome sight: no mountains visible in any direction. Southern Illinois is no place for an agoraphobe. Only one small town all day, Sandoval, where I had lunch. (24.1 miles)

Date: 4/29/01

Entry: Salem to Flora IL. Much the same as yesterday, only longer and hotter (mid-80's, warmer than normal for this time of year). I am getting an earlier start because of the heat. This time, there are no towns along route 50, so I start with both my water bottles full and provide myself with a turkey sandwich from a minimart on the edge of town. Even so, I am out of water after 17 or 18 miles (around 3.5 hours), when I reach a side road and spot a man bringing food to what appeared to be about a hundred beagle puppies in a pen. Beyond him there is an antique store whose sign announces that it is open Sundays. This proves to be a lie, but the coke machine outside is in working order, so I get a drink and ask the beagle man for some water. For a moment I thought I might have to get down and lap with the puppies, but he refilled my bottles from a hose, telling me that the side road is actually a short cut to Flora, passing through the very small town of Xenia in about a mile. I don't need any urging to take a short cut with less traffic, and arrive at my motel after the longest run in nearly 2 weeks. Publicity has been missing for these 3 days, as some of the local papers are weeklies and no one is home on the weekend. I did reach the editor of the Salem paper, but she was busy with a project arising from the closing of the Quebecor plant, a publishing firm that employed 900 local people. (27.5 miles)

Date: 4/30/01

Entry: Flora to Olney IL. Bruce Sessel, my host in Olney (literally so, as he did not charge for the accommodations) had been in touch with me since Breese, arranging media and other contacts. A friend of his coaches track at the local high school, and he was going to meet me with a couple of runners in the early afternoon. Unfortunately (as this would be the first time I had anyone run with me) we missed connections along the way, so this didn't happen, but Kevin, a reporter from the Olney Daily Mail, interviewed me at length that afternoon at the lovely Sessel's Cabbage Rose B&B, and an excellent story appeared the next day. I was able to update more of my journal on the Sessel's computer, so all in all I felt I had something to show for my efforts, compared to the two previous days. Despite the comfortable surroundings, I had trouble sleeping that night, and the nearby church bell reminded me unpleasantly of the time every hour between 3 and 6 AM, when the birds took over. I took this as a sign of overtraining, and decided to take a day off in Vincennes, the next large town. (23.2 miles) (431 miles in April)

5/1/01 Olney to Lawrenceville IL. Again, there were no towns along Route 50, so I loaded up with water and set forth early, after a photo session with Kevin on the way out of town. The terrain blended gradually from farmland into woods and even some hills, culminating in the Red Hills State Park, which claims to be the highest point between Cincinnati and St. Louis. My cell phone rang near the top, giving me a welcome break. My wife, Jan, who is handling all the business books in my absence (I took the easy way out!) had run into a computer snag. I have been on the phone so many times for tech support of various kinds, and it was a pleasure being on the other end of this for a change, standing on the side of the road in southeastern Illinois, trying to visualize what might be ailing the computer at home in southern Oregon, where my dear wife was trying to get out the company payroll. A delicious blend of primitive transportation and cutting edge technology. After this break, I was glad to find that the park contained a restaurant, so I was able to sit down and have a civilized meal overlooking a wood-fringed lake. My feet were complaining the rest of the way to Lawrenceville, and it didn't help that the motel turned out to be two miles south of town. The proprietor, Mr. Patel, sent his son to pick me up, after I had walked to the outskirts of town without finding it: I have no hesitation about accepting rides to lodging that is well off my route. (22.4 miles)

5/2/01 Vincennes IN. Nothing in this trip so far prepared me for the kind of reception I received in Vincennes. The trip from Lawrenceville was enlivened by a visit from the ABC-TV station from Evansville IN, which did an interview along the road that played that night at 5 and again at 10. I missed it, but a lot of people in southwestern Indiana saw it, judging from the many comments I got about it. My contact in Vincennes, Jane Koch, assistant to the mayor, was out of the office when I got there, so I had lunch at a nearby cafe, not realizing that the mayor and chief of staff were waiting to take me to lunch. When I got back to the city hall, Terry Mooney, the mayor of Vincennes, gave me a proclamation that he had issued, declaring May 2001 as Sarcoma Awareness Month in the city of Vincennes. From then on, I was treated like visiting royalty. I was interviewed in his office by a reporter from the Vincennes Sun-Commercial, then we had a photo session with the mayor on the beautiful bridge across the Wabash river with the George Rogers Clark Memorial in the background. Mayor Mooney left for a quick trip to Indianapolis, and his chief of staff, David Todino, set up a computer so that I could update by log and check my Email. Then he took me on a tour of the town on the way to the Executive Inn, where I was given the mayor's suite for two days and dinner in the excellent hotel restaurant as a guest of the city. Thursday morning started with breakfast with Terry and Dave, then more on the computer, and I was invited to participate in a prayer meeting with many of the city officials. Then, as it was supposed to be a rest day, I walked the 1.9 miles to the hotel (so as not to leave any gaps in the run) and stayed off my feet until it was time to go to dinner with Jane Koch and her husband (again as a guest of the city). In a radio interview that afternoon, I remarked that I had often indicated a need for a national sarcoma foundation to support projects like this run, but that it would be unnecessary if all towns were like Vincennes. (11.9 miles)

5/4/01 Vincennes to Washington, IN. Another breakfast with mayor Mooney, who took me on a tour of some of the parks and neighborhoods in Vincennes, then drove a ways out of town to show me the way back to route 50. The highway is 4 lanes divided all the way to Washington, with an ample shoulder. The weather was hot, but my spirits were uplifted by the many waves and honks, probably from people who had seen the Evansville broadcast or the article in the Vincennes paper Thursday. One man saw me from his house, got in his car, and maneuvered across the highway in order to take my picture. When I arrived in Washington, I stopped at a mini-mart for a soda, and while I was waiting in line, a man ahead of me shook my hand and told me he had paid for my drink. Running on the highway has its drawbacks, compared to the tranquillity of the Katy Trail, but for a project like this, a more public venue is an advantage! (19.2 miles)

5/5/01 Washington to Loogootee IN. An ominous pain in my left heel appeared during the night, probably due to the change in road surface from asphalt to concrete in this part of Indiana, so I iced it a couple of times before setting out. Fortunately, the surface changed back after a few miles to two lanes of asphalt, and the sore place gradually felt better. The terrain is gradually shifting from flat to rolling to hilly, a welcome change from the endless expanses of ploughed land I have passed in the last couple of weeks. Linda Ramsey, an LMS survivor from Kentucky, called to say that she was coming up after the Derby today. I look forward to seeing her, as she will be the first person from the list since Kansas City. My lodging for the night is the only one in Loogootee (pronounced LaGOOty), the Stone Ridge B&B. Linda arrived as I was about to go to bed, after being stuck in post-Derby traffic in Louisville for a couple of hours, and we decide to visit over breakfast. (16.0 miles) (Week #4, 120.2 miles)


5/6/01 Loogootee to Shoals, IN. Linda Ramsey and I work out a plan to even out the runs for today and tomorrow: she will meet me in Shoals (7.7 miles) and I will continue for another 5 miles and then ride back to Shoals with her. The terrain is now decidedly hilly, and I feel energized by the ups and downs, much like the country roads at home in Oregon. But after a couple of miles my phone rings, and Linda's husband tells me he needs to get in touch with her about a family emergency. About an hour later I spot Linda's car waiting for me, and tell her about the call. She goes off in search of a pay phone (my cell phone having maddeningly locked its keypad) as I continue into town. When I catch up with her, I can see from her face that the news is not good. Her mother has passed away suddenly and also unexpectedly, as she had not been ill. My condolences seem so inadequate in the face of such a loss, but we share a tearful hug, and she is on her way back to Louisville. My host in Shoals, Terry Quinn, will be at church until noon, so I get a sandwich in the mini-mart and wait to call him. Terry is married to the daughter of Al Keyes, my host in Defiance, MO, on 4/20. When I told Al I couldn't find a place to stay in Shoals, he revealed that he had family there who might be willing to put me up! Calls were made, and now, over 2 weeks and 250 miles later, I am here to visit the Quinn family. When I called, Terry said he would be happy to collect me down the road, so I spun off another 5 miles through beautifully wooded hills, then went with Terry back to a post-church family gathering at his sister's house, where I was fed another lunch, entertained, and listened to. Then we went on to the Quinn's house, in the country along the White River. I have met many nice people on this trip, but the Quinns, Terry, Michelle, and their daughter Stephanie, are beyond nice: they did my laundry, loaned me a computer, fed me (again!), turned up a previously unknown B&B in Brownstown, MO, and contributed $50. to my next night's lodging! (12.7 miles)

5/7/01 Shoals to Bedford, IN. A hard day on the hills, made shorter by the five miles covered yesterday. This is some of the prettiest country I have seen. An interview with the Bedford Times-Mail. Some of the best moments of this trip come from casual conversations with people along the way, like the man in the Hartleyville bike shop who treated me to a cold soda to express his appreciation of the run. As I arrived in Bedford, a thunderstorm was brewing, and I felt a few spatters. A little later, when I was registering at my motel, the skies opened up and it poured for several hours. By dinnertime, it had let up, and I went out, ate dinner, and came back to the room, whereupon the fireworks and downpour started up again and continued for most of the night. I have yet to be out in any serious rain. My preliminary research indicated about a 40% chance of rain every day so far, so I feel like sort of a Jonah in reverse, but enough is enough! The farmers are hurting, and so are the lawns. Indiana has more large lawns than any place I've ever been. Along US 50, the country looks like a golf course minus the putting greens, with houses on every 5 acres or so. Some of it they don't mow until later in the year, and that becomes hay, but there is never a time during daylight hours when you don't hear the sound of a lawnmower somewhere. (18.6 miles)

5/8/01 Bedford to Brownstown, IN. A near-marathon today, 26 miles flat (a word that does not describe the terrain). Whoever told me the hills eased up after Bedford probably never tried running over them. I suspect that he cruised over them in a large sedan, playing soft music on the stereo. This is not a pedestrian's world. I was interviewed and photographed coming down the long hill before Brownstown by Mike Nolan of the Seymour Daily Tribune, which resulted in an excellent front-page writeup, one of the few I have seen, as I am usually gone before they appear. My Brownstown lodging, the Bittersweet Bed and Breakfast, was the high point in luxury so far, with East Indian decor and an immense jacuzzi in the room (very welcome after a long hot day), with a generous discount and internet access, and a sign in front welcoming me! (26.0 miles)

5/9/01 Brownstown to Seymour, IN. A welcome rest day, for the benefit of my hill-pummeled thighs. Fritz Strohmeyer filled me in on the publicity prospects in Cincinnati, and Jeff Mers of Columbus conferred with me about support in Ohio. It seems that I may have vehicle support from Cleves (east of Cinc.) all the way to Zanesville, a distance of over 200 miles. This means more flexibility in the daily distance, and a welcome chance to get rid of my pack for a while. (11.5 miles)

5/11/01 Seymour to N. Vernon. Coming into town, I had a unique interview with Bryce Mayer of the N. Vernon Plain Dealer. Taking refuge from the traffic in the parking lot of a small beauty parlor, we were invited in by Barb, the proprietor, who served us coffee and encouraged me to hold forth about sarcoma to her, Bryce, and her two customers. (13.0 miles)

5/12/01 N. Vernon to Versailles, IN. Jan and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary over the phone, the first one (and the last, I hope) when we haven't been together. A longish day, with increasing discomfort from my pesky little toe, which is developing a blister under the callus. I lucked out on lunch today in Holton, where the Masons were having their Saturday fundraising fish fry, and served me a tasty fish sandwich for a modest price. At the motel, I found that the local pharmacy had some Second Skin, which I thought would improve my toe. The pharmacist, John Strautman, was kind enough to bring me some after closing up at 6, saving me the mile walk on my sore foot. He refused payment, another example of the extremely kind treatment I have had in the towns along US 50 in Illinois and Indiana. (21.9 miles) (week 5, 103.7 miles)

5/13/01 Versailles to Aurora, IN. This morning my toe was so sore I could hardly walk. The night before, I had wrapped my toe in one of the Second Skins before going out to dinner. It felt uncomfortable, perhaps because the design was more appropriate to a heel than a toe, and I tried to remove it. What was left of the skin on the end of my toe came off with it. In the morning I trimmed another S. S. to get a better fit, and set off for Aurora. The toe complained more when I walked than when I ran, perhaps owing to my rather flatfooted gait, so I omitted my usual walking breaks. All went well until lunchtime, when I was hoping to find a store or restaurant near the road in Dillsboro, about 12 miles down the road. My hopes were dashed, however, as Dillsboro was well off the road, and the inhabitants were evidently celebrating Mothers Day elsewhere, as there was hardly anyone in sight. Needless to say, all the restaurants and stores were closed, except for an IGA at the far end of town, where I scored some pretty tasty fried chicken and a Gatorade. My good physical condition (aside from my toe) is undoubtedly a tribute to the sustaining power of fast food. In a slightly better mood, I limped back to the highway and plodded on toward Aurora. About five miles from where the town should have been, a water tower appeared bearing the name "Aurora," followed shortly by signs welcoming visitors to that town. These turned out to be false portents, however, as the road wound around tree-covered hills for nearly an hour, finally plummeting down a long hill. Fearing that the town may have disappeared Brigadoon-like into the forest entirely, I called my hostess, who advised me to continue courageously for a few more miles, and eventually it appeared, a very lovely old river town. The owners were away until evening, so I enjoyed relaxing on a comfortable bed, and indulging in the whirlpool bath that they had kindly provided. I had had two hard, painful days, with (as usual on weekends) little or no media contact to give me a sense that I was accomplishing something, but I hoped that the support that lay ahead in Ohio would turn things around, and that my sore toe would not be (so to speak) the Achilles heel that would make me quit or at least suspend things for a while. (21.4 miles)

5/14/01 Aurora IN to Cleves OH. Madonna Baltz, my hostess at the Gothic Arches B&B, drove my pack to Cleves, where it and I were picked up by Linda O'Donnell, who had charge of me for the next three days. She gave me a place to stay, took me out to dinner, picked me up and dropped me off for the forty-mile trek from Cleves to Loveland, transported my pack, and did everything to make life easier for me, even though she was dealing with her mother's hospitalization and surgery (recurrent liposarcoma) and her job at the same time. My hat is off to her! From Aurora, I had a run of only 13 miles into Ohio and Cleves. As I approached the meeting place I saw a figure waving at me, who turned out to be Richard Soller, a 74-year-old masters athlete who had read about me in the Cincinnati Enquirer that morning. Linda was also there, and the three of us had lunch before driving into town. We drove the course I had mapped out, noting a good stopping place in O'Bryon (east Cinc.) at about 20 miles, then continued to the start of the Little Miami bikepath in Milford (another 10 miles). I visited briefly with Frank Sheehan at the Running Spot store there, and we went to Linda's house in West Chester (north Cinc.), where I spent the rest of the day bringing my journal up to date and calling TV stations. (13.0 miles)

5/15/01 Cleves to Cincinnati. Linda drove me back to Cleves, and I set out for the city. As I was coming into the outskirts, I heard my name called behind me, and a man ran up and introduced himself as Jim McCord. As we ran along, I told him he was the first person to run with me. Jim told me that his son had Type 1 diabetes, and that he was planning a transcontinental run next year for diabetes. We discussed the pros and cons of that kind of project for some time, and agreed to keep in touch. He had to leave for work, not without getting me a bottle of water and inviting me to stay at his place. A few miles further I saw a handwritten sign taped to a post, giving directions to the street that would take me into downtown. It ended "Don't ever give up" and was signed by Jim. At this point, after 342 miles, I said goodbye to US 50, and started to thread my way through the industrial district of Cincinnati. In only a few minutes I was downtown, probably a strange sight as I jogged along the sidewalk, weaving in and out of the pedestrians, and probably making better time than the cars. I had several calls from Channel 12, who were trying to locate me, and I gave them my description and route, which would take me near their station in the Eden Park area. When I got there, I dawdled around for a while, but they either couldn't find me or had other Fish to fry, because they never showed up. I finally reached my destination at Bob Roncker's Running Spot store in the O'Bryonsville area of Cincinnati, where I was greeted by a small but enthusiastic crowd, provided with a tape to break (!), and an interview with Ch. 9. Not a word of the interview survived to the broadcast later, which consisted of 25 seconds of the run and tape-breaking, with a voice-over. This, alas, was the sum total of TV coverage in Cincinnati. (20.6 miles)


5/16/01 Cincinnati to Loveland OH. Linda dropped me off at the Running Spot after breakfast, and I set out for Milford and the Little Miami bike path, my 60+ mile route north to US 40. Before long I was joined by two young runners, Kelly and Katie, who brought water and accompanied me off and on most of the way to Milford. I went by the Running Spot's Milford store, where manager Frank Sheehan was going to run with me. I met him coming back from a hard run up the trail; he thought he had missed me and was trying to catch up! So I went on by myself. The Little Miami Trail, unlike the Katy Trail, is paved for its whole length. It is bordered by dense woods whose trees overhang the trail like a tunnel, providing welcome shade in the hot weather, and the dense undergrowth is full of songbirds and wildflowers (and also pollen, to the detriment of my allergies). Heat was not a problem today, however, for after a brief rumbling prelude of thunder and lightning, a wind came up and ushered in a downpour that lasted all the way to Loveland. I would have gone further to lessen tomorrow's run, but was worried about drowning my cell phone, so I called Linda, who rescued me soon after. We went back to Milford, where I had an interview with a reporter for a local newspaper that covers the whole Cincy area. The staff at the Running Spot loaded me up with Power Bars and had me autograph a shirt for their display. (18.5 miles)

5/17/01 Loveland to Corwin, OH. A long run on the bike path, mostly in the rain. The path follows an old railway, which in turn followed the Little Miami river, which takes a very meandering course turning some 20 northeasterly crowflight miles into nearly 30. The trail, because of the weather, was as deserted as the Katy had been in Missouri a month earlier. My host at Siemer Station, Eric Siemer, had kindly offered to put me up gratis when I made a reservation months before. In the evening, Harry and Diana Froling, from the ACOR leiomyosarcoma list, came all the way from Tennessee to take me out to dinner, and then drove home again, a ten-hour trip. I told him I would run 30 miles in a day, but wouldn't think of driving as far as they did! Harry has been the LMS list owner since I have been a subscriber, and has always been a voice of reason amid the turbulence that is often characteristic of internet groups; it was a pleasure to meet the Frolings in person. (28.5 miles)

5/18/01 Corwin to Xenia OH. Another stormy day. The creeks are raging, and the low parts of the fields are flooded. The last few miles coming into Xenia have sheets of water pouring over the bike path. I make my way through town, asking directions to the motel where I am to be picked up, and finally locate it, about half an hour after the pickup time. Ed McGarry, my host for tonight, was there earlier and went looking for me, thinking I might have lost my way in the network of trails that emanate from Xenia (a distinct possibility, as I would find tomorrow). We finally got together and drove to his home in Dayton (birthplace of the Wright Bros.). Ed's wife Lynn had uterine sarcoma, and was currently undergoing chemotherapy to reduce liver metastases. I was doubtful about landing on them when whe was having chemo, but she said the reaction usually didn't hit for a day or so. Their 6-year-old daughter Maggie gave me her room and went to stay with her grandmother, and after my soaked shoes had been through the dryer, I went out to dinner with Lynn and Ed and young Eddie, a 3-year-old live wire. (14.1 miles)

5/19/01 Xenia to Springfield, OH. The last day on the bike path. Ed was going to run for an hour with me, but we used most of the time running in circles trying to find the right path for Springfield. A cyclist who recognized my shirt from the website put us straight, as we would have gone miles out of our way, to Cedarville. The rain eased up and the path became more populated, especially in Yellow Springs, home of Antioch College and one of the stations on the pre-Civil War underground railroad. I asked directions in a bike shop for taking the trail into Springfield, and was told that I would be dumped off onto a street in a rough section of town, and have to follow the signs. As often happens with signs in cities, they disappeared about halfway into town, so I asked directions in a minimart and soon found my way to the hotel. I had the last remaining room, the rest being occupied by graduates of a local college who were celebrating what must have been a high-numbered reunion, judging by the age of most of the people I saw. The ones in the room next to mine were still in full cry at midnight, and I banged rudely on the wall. After a moment of silence they banged back, thereby presumably saving face, and continued several decibels lower. Sleep eventually descended. (19.5 miles) (Week #6, 135.6 miles)

5/20/01 5/20-23, Springfield to Reynoldsburg, OH. During this part of the run I was supported by the Casey and Mers families of Columbus, and was picked up and dropped off at the various stages by John Casey. Their kindness and generosity were the more remarkable in that they were at that time dealing with a great personal tragedy and loss. I hope that the full story of Shannon Mers will be told on this site before long. To demonstrate the devastation of the sarcoma dragon, nothing I could say would be more convincing. At 31, Shannon had dealt with osteosarcoma for 6 years, since shortly after the birth of her daughter, and it had moved into her lungs and become inoperable. She and her husband Jeff were looking forward to greeting me in Columbus, and had made arrangements for a meeting with the mayor and coverage by local TV. Only 3 days before my arrival, she contracted pneumonia and was moved into hospice. On Monday night John Casey brought me to visit the hospice, where I met Jeff and his parents, Chuck and Ardith Mers, and Pat Casey, Shannon's mother, who I knew from corresponding on the ACOR sarcoma list, but had never met. Many other relatives from both families were present, and someone was with Shannon at all times. Her eyes were closed, and her breathing slow and labored, but they said she was not in pain. The sense of dignity and love of this final journey will stay with me forever. The next morning I made my way downtown through rain and traffic to the city hall, and the reception there (all arranged by Jeff Mers) was probably the climax of public recognition for the trip so far: TV coverage with an interview by Cabot Rea, the Channel 4 anchor, and a meeting with Mayor Michael Coleman, who presented me with a proclamation designating May 22 as Sarcoma Awareness Day in Columbus. Jeff, John and Chuck were also present, and I said goodbye to them, saddened by the realization that a more final goodbye was taking place at the same time. The next day, Wednesday, in Reynoldsburg, was a day of rest. (41.5 miles)



5/24/01 Thurs. to Sat., 5/24-26, Reynoldsburg to Cambridge OH. My excellent backup and support in Ohio continued thanks to the Burt and Moore families. Beverly Moore, wife of Bill Moore, mother of Jeff Moore, Beth Burt, and Marci Hartness, had passed away after a 12-year battle with LMS just before this trip started. Andy Burt, Beth's husband, shuttled me and my pack for the next three days, and I stayed for two nights at the Burt's house. I ran on US 40 the whole way. This is the historic National Highway, begun in the early 19th century to open the west to settlement, and eventually extending from Washington DC to St. Louis. It was a pleasure to run on, as I-70, which runs parallel to it, absorbs most of the through and commercial traffic. Moreover, the countryside is varied and beautiful; rolling farmland and woodland, with pleasant small towns (especially New Concord, John Glenn's birthplace) and many magnificent old houses. Jeff Moore had arranged a reception in Zanesville at the historic Y bridge (which spans 2 rivers at once), with TV and newspaper coverage and a meeting with the mayor, and Bill Moore presented me with a check for $1,000, by far the largest contribution to date. East of Zanesville I took time out to visit the Zane Gray museum, which also has a display setting out the development of the National Highway from a wagon road for pioneer settlers to the early days of the automobile. I had thought Zanesville was named after Zane Gray, but the reverse is true, as the Zane family were early settlers in the region. (68.9 miles) (Week # 7, 110.4 miles)

5/27/01 Cambridge to St. Clairsville. Bill Moore met me on the road Saturday afternoon with the news that US 40 merged with I-70 for about 17 miles of this leg, and offered to drive me over this section today (interstates are off-limits to pedestrians). I took his offer, thereby forever abandoning any claim to an age-group record run from KC to DC! I have otherwise been strict about not omitting any portions of the route (notably when I lost a day rather than accept a ride across the Mississippi) and have not, of course, included this section in my account of miles run. (17.5 miles)

5/28/01 St. Clairsville to Wheeling, WV. This leg was very scenic, if arduous. My motel was 6 miles west of St. Clairsville, and I arrived in that town in the middle of a Memorial Day ceremony. Seeing the crowd of several hundred, I had a brief impulse to ask for a minute or so at the mike, but decided that my chances of crashing the party, as a scruffy uninvited runner, were not too good, so I continued to a nearby Dairy Queen and had lunch instead. But I made a mental resolution to dedicate the remainder of this run to Shannon Mers and Beverly Moore, in the hope that the dragon will claim no more lives before I reach Washington. (16.8 miles)

5/29/01 Wheeling to Beech Bottom WV. Having heard from Betty Dlugos that I needed to show up at her school in Carnegie on Friday, I decided not to take a day off in Wheeling, but to push on at least part way to Wellsburg. To my surprise, there was a nice bike trail up the Ohio for the first seven miles, after which I continued on the road to a motel in Beech Bottom, site of the bankrupt Pittsburgh-Wheeling steel mill (a portent of things to come). The Wheeling TV show bore fruit, in the form of numerous waves and greetings. One man made a U-turn in his pickup and stopped to give me a $20. donation. (12.5 miles)

5/30/01 Beech Bottom WV to Avella PA. A short but steep day through some very pretty country, ending at the pleasant farm of Dale, Marcy and Nigel Tudor, Weatherbury Farm, where I was lodged gratis and even loaned the family car to get my dinner at a nearby restaurant. I was the only guest, but they were expecting a group of Hash House Harriers, an organization sometimes described (by its members) as "drinkers with a running problem." There are many animals at Weatherbury. Standing at the kitchen door, I counted 9 kittens, three cats, 12 chickens and 7 rabbits within 6 feet of me. (13.5 miles)

5/31/01 Avella to Bridgeville, PA. My last day to carry the pack for a while. After a break lasting through most of Ohio, I have been toting it again since St. Clairsville, and this coincided with some of the hilliest terrain, today being no exception. I promise myself a day off in Pittsburgh. This part of Pennsylvania is mostly farmland, with hay fields and pasture predominating, yielding to little old mining communities as you approach Bridgeville. I am picked up in that town by Vince Dlugos, and will spend the next three nights as a guest of Vince and his wife Betty in Carnegie, near Pittsburgh. (21.5 miles) (May, 502.1 miles)

6/1/01 Friday-Saturday, 6/1-2, Pittsburgh, PA. Friday was my date to appear at the Carnegie elementary school, where Patti Williams, a very well-loved teacher (and longtime friend of Betty), had taught for many years until her death from sarcoma last year. The children and teachers had raised money in her memory for sarcoma research, and the principal presented me with a check for $1050 as a donation to the run, to which the Carnegie chamber of commerce added another $500. I was quite overwhelmed, but managed to say a few words of thanks, and to mention that this was the largest single contribution to date. After the assembly I visited the 3d grade classroom of Carol Dlugos (Vince's sister) and answered questions for half an hour. The questions were mostly of a practical nature, e.g., "How do you go to the bathroom?" (Ans.: find a tree), and "Don't you get tired of reporters and photographers?" (Ans.: they help get my message across.) As if to emphasize this last point, I had two interviews at the school, both of which led to good articles in local papers. Following a familiar pattern, the TV contact, after numerous calls to set the schedule, failed to appear. It was a shame that the event at the school wasn't covered -- another good story missed. Saturday being a day off (welcome after the Pennsylvania hills), Vince took me on a tour of Pittsburgh. Like many people who have never been there, I had pictured it as a tough, grimy industrial city, despite its having been picked recently as the most desirable place to live in the US, so I was unprepared for the beauty of the downtown area. I enjoyed a too-short walk through to Carnegie Mellon Museum of Art, had a remarkable sandwich at a restaurant whose name I should have written down, and topped it off with a dip in the Dlugos' state-of-the-art hot tub. As if to prove the sinfulness of leaving the road for these pleasurable pursuits, my attempt to attend a Pittsburgh/Atlanta game in the new baseball stadium was rained out. (7.5 miles) (week 8, 100.0 miles)

6/3/01 Carnegie to McKeesport, PA. My pack changed hands again, being transported by John Potthoff to my next stop, in McKeesport, the terminus of the Allegheny-Cumberland rail-trail. John and his wife Connie joined the Dlugoses and me for breakfast. He contracted liposarcoma while serving his country in Viet Nam, the result of exposure to Agent Orange. This is one of the few documented environmental causes of sarcoma, and is recognized as such by the U.S. government. On the advice of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, I took the Yellow Belt route to McKeesport, which took me through some very pleasant residential real estate. I didn't find any of this in McKeesport, a once thriving steel town which has seen better days. Walking through town on my way to dinner, I was saddened to see the many empty stores, vacant parking garages, and crumbling buildings, a modern ghost town in which the spirit departed so recently that cars still stopped at signals as if a stream of nonexistent traffic was passing by. In a country so rich, how can this be allowed to happen? If, as they used to say, you can't fight progress, why can't you at least fight economic devastation? (17 miles)

6/4/01 McKeesport to Belle Vernon, PA. John Potthoff joined me for breakfast and drove my pack to a motel in Belle Vernon, near Smithton on the Allegheny trail. This is unpaved, like the Katy Trail, and a pleasant change from city streets and hilly country roads. Jan, my wife, is flying into Pittsburgh, where she will rent a car and drive down to meet me at the motel. We have not seen each other since April 6, the longest separation in our 24 years of marriage. To celebrate this reunion, I have rearranged the route to pick up US 40 at Uniontown (instead of taking the trail), shaving 2 days off the time between Pittsburgh and Cumberland. We will use this time to take a break and visit some Civil War battle sites. (21.2 miles)

6/5/01 Jan walked with me for the first 2 miles, and it was very gratifying to share the beauty of this trail with her. Nearly 500 miles of this trip have been on rail-trails, and I hope that as this system grows, more and more people will take advantage of this off-road mode of travel. Jan picked me up in Connelsville, and we moved off the trail to Uniontown for the 60-mile trip to Cumberland on US 40. (19.2 miles)

6/8/01 Wed. to Friday, 6/6-8, Uniontown PA to Cumberland MD. The "short cut" on the road saved nearly 40 miles (plus several detours around closed sections of the trail), but offset this by a very hilly terrain, requiring a slower pace. However, the weather is not too hot, and my energy is, if anything, better than a month ago, so I walk briskly up the hills and coast down them pretty comfortably (even the three-mile pull out of Uniontown, one of the longest uphills on the route). As if to comment on the special nature of these hills, many of the summits carry elevation signs, none of which exceeded 2960 feet, which would hardly merit attention in Oregon or California, but as the highest point in the state of Maryland is only a little over 3000 feet, they are relatively alpine. They certainly must be scary to drive in winter snow and ice. We spent one night in a magnificent old inn, the Stone House in Flat Rock, the next in Grantsville MD, and finally made the long descent, nine miles downhill to Cumberland, where we will hook up with Ed and Nancy Hoag Sunday night, after our Civil War minitour. (60.2 miles)

6/9-10. Various places. Jan and I took a couple of days off to visit Civil War battle sites that we had read about but never seen. Saturday we visited Gettysburg. At first sight, it's hard to imagine that this peaceful field between two grass- and tree-covered ridges was the scene of one of the bloodiest conflicts in history, but as we walked among the monuments to the units that fought there, and listened to the guide's explanation of the battle's final day, I experienced the same feeling of awe and sadness that I have had in the past when playing music at funerals: even though the person mourned was unknown to me, it was impossible not to sense the grief that permeates the surroundings, and Gettysburg has this quality to a degree probably found in very few other places in the world. On Sunday, we visited Antietam, a battle that nobody won, the scene of the greatest single-day losses of the war. We also went to Harper's Ferry, rich in history and bustling with tourists, seemingly carved out of the rocks and bluffs at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.

6/11-13, Cumberland to Hancock MD. Ed and Nancy Hoag brought their motor home down from upstate New York to help me on the first three days on the Chesapeake & Ohio Tow Path. Built at great expense in the mid-19th century to carry freight between Cumberland and Washington, it was rendered somewhat obsolete by the railroads, but continued in use until the 1920's, when flooding put an end to it. Thanks to Justice William O. Douglas, it is now a national park, and at 184.5 miles, it is probably the longest and narrowest one! It is certainly a wonderful resource for a pedestrian such as myself (although the meandering course of the Potomac makes it considerably longer than the crow-flight distance), and I determined from the start, in planning this trip, that this would be the route to the capitol. Like the Katy Trail, it is unpaved, with a good even crushed-rock surface, and there is little or no commercial activity near the trail: no snack bars for the hungry runner! It does, however, have wells every few miles with hand pumps producing drinking water, reducing the need to carry water on the trail (refer to my notes about running out of water on the Katy Trail, to appreciate what a blessing this is). There is water in the lower 20 miles or so of the canal, and some boating, but most of it is rather boggy and overgrown with trees, which offer welcome protection from the sun. There are many locks in varying states of repair, and many interesting historical markers, but the most unforgettable experience is the transit of the Paw Paw tunnel, which I encountered on the second day. Canal and path go straight through 3300 feet of rock (cutting through one of the bends in the river), and the other end is visible as a faint light in the distance. The walk through (no a place one would want to run) took me 10 minutes, and after the first minute or so the darkness is complete, except for the distant mouth, and this appears no closer after several more minutes. You hear the water dripping and your own footsteps, and see nothing at all: the smoothness of the wooden guard rail is evidence that many hikers have found comfort in its presence. As a child, I was afraid of the dark, and a trip through this tunnel would have been my worst nightmare; as it was, it was an interesting episode of partial sense-deprivation.

It was pleasant to travel with Ed and Nancy, and to have an actual crew for a few days, a 35-foot motor home, with a comfortable bed, food in the refrigerator, a shower, and congenial company whose experiences with sarcoma gave the run a special interest for them. I hope they enjoyed the trip as much as I did, despite the fact that they had to go many miles round about in order to rendezvous with me on the trail! Nancy has earned the gratitude of everyone working toward sarcoma awareness by making ribbons (one of which graced my cap during the whole trip) which she has contributed to people with sarcoma everywhere, to help them spread the word. Wednesday night we were joined by Joe and Donna Fischer of Pennsylvania, who met us in Hancock for dinner. (63.1 miles)


6/14/01 Hancock to Williamsport, MD. Thanks to the Fischers, who dropped off my pack in Williamsport on their way home, I am running free today, a fairly long leg. I don't know whether I am finally getting used to the pace and distance, or just enjoying the level and easy terrain of the bike path, but the daily runs seem to be getting less effortful. I stopped at the visitor's center in Williamsport, and found that a large section of the trail between here and Sharpsburg is under construction, with a detour on local roads. I decided to detour the whole trail tomorrow and take the road to Sharpsburg for another look at the Antietam battlefield. The Red Roof Inn, where I am staying, told me over the phone that they were three blocks from the trail. True, perhaps, but the third block was a mile long! (24.5 miles)

6/15/01 Williamsport to Sharpsburg MD. I am reading Michael Shaara's marvelous historical novel about Gettysburg, The Killer Angels, and on the first page I learn that on this very day, 138 years ago, Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia crossed the Potomac at Williamsport, on their expedition to Pennsylvania and Gettysburg. Considering how that turned out for them, they might have been better off turning back in my direction! I took the hilly highways to Sharpsburg, entering the battlefield from the north, and cutting off about ten miles from the towpath route. My hosts for the night (literally, because they didn't charge me for the accommodations) were Bob Leblanc and Charles Van Metre, two very kind retired theatre people who run the Inn at Antietam (located in Sharpsburg). Charles is a native of this area, and told me that his family lived in Shepherdstown before Shepherd got there (1720's). After some discussion of good places to eat, they drove me to a local restaurant where I enjoyed a plate of catfish stuffed with crab, then treated me to a tour of the battlefield, after which I borrowed their computer to update my log. Computers have been in short supply since Pittsburgh, and I have to apologize for the delay in reporting. (14.0 miles)

6/16/01 Sharpsburg to Shepherdstown, WV. A very short day, less than 5 miles across the Potomac and into another state. I woke up this morning with a sore throat, usually an ominous symptom, and spent the rest of the day hoping it was from another allergy. Allergies have been so severe for the last month that I have virtually crossed off this part of the country as a place to live. All the residents tell me that it is an unusually bad year for pollen. Shepherdstown is another museum-like town, with the addition of a college, Shepherd University. This has produced a sort of mixed decor: antique shops cheek by jowl with head shops run by people sporting purple hair and body piercing. The historical village only extends to the city limits: beyond this perimeter, there are malls, one of which contains my motel. (4.5 miles) (Week 10, 103.6 miles)

6/17/01 Shepherdstown to Harper's Ferry, WV. Back on the towpath, it is only a morning's run to Harper's Ferry. The cold has definitely settled in; I am relieved that it is happening now and not a month ago. I have avoided injury so far, but it is possible that I am physically overextended, with lowered resistance. Fortunately, I am a little ahead of schedule. Having given out June 21 as my time of arrival in DC, I can't get there any earlier, so I have four days to cover 60 miles. The sore throat has retreated down toward my lungs, reducing my voice to a squeaky whisper, and I have developed a racking cough. Sixty miles seems like a long way. I call Mary Anne Skaggs, who is going to help me out the next few days, to explain the situation. She has offered to put me up, but I think I am probably still contagious, and explain that I am too miserable to be company, so I make a motel reservation in Leesburg, where the Skaggs family lives. (14 miles)

6/18/01 Harper's Ferry to Point of Rocks, MD. Mary Anne drops me off at Harper's Ferry, and I run another section of the trail. The cold continues fierce, but I am so used to running that I actually feel better doing that. My pace isn't fast enough to get out of breath, so my sore lungs aren't strained, and I manage to avoid coughing fits pretty well. Mary Anne picks me up, and later Harold, her husband, takes me to a doctor, in the hope of getting something to fight my cold. The doctor evidently thinks it is more than a cold, as she prescribes Zithromax, an antibiotic, and gives me a prescription for cough medicine. (12.6 miles)

6/19/01 Point of Rocks to White's Ferry, MD. Another short leg of the trail. (12.7 miles)

6/20/01 White's Ferry, MD to Great Falls, MD. Perhaps due to the antibiotic, I am feeling a little stronger today, which is just as well, as this is a longer leg. Once again I change "handlers," from the Skaggs family to the Moore family. Buzz Moore picks me up at Great Falls; his wife, Jeanette Moore, passed away from leiomyosarcoma last February, and their daughters, Melanie Thatcher and Jackie Yencha, have phoned and Emailed me offering assistance with the run. Wayne Hulihan, of the LMS support group, has done an enormous amount of organizing toward my arrival in Washington, contacting media, politicians, and other members of the support group. Buzz drives me to a motel in Rockville MD, where I rest up for the final day. In the evening I join Wayne and his wife Jenny (a leiomyosarcoma survivor) and Renate Sabulsky (whose sister has LMS) for Dinner.(21.2 miles)


6/21/01 Great Falls to Washington DC. The first day of summer. This project is the first attempt on a national scale to raise awareness for sarcoma, so it is appropriate that it should end at the beginning of the planting season. Whatever this effort has accomplished, I hope that it has planted seeds that will grow in the future. One such seed has already sprouted, in the form of the Sarcoma Foundation of America, organized by Dr. Mark Thornton of the Washington, D.C., area, which has a website at

In the last part of the canal, the stream is full of water, and many people can be seen paddling canoes on it. Gradually the rural surroundings give place to city streets, and finally I lost the canal altogether somewhere in Georgetown. I could see the tall spire of the Washington Monument to the southeast, so I struck off cross-country in that direction until I reached the Potomac. A mile or so later, the Lincoln Memorial came into view, where I was to meet people around noon. After two and a half months, I was only a few minutes late! For a description of our march to the capitol, I couldn't improve on the account by Doris Tobias, the listowner for the LMS support group, which is reprinted below.


On the whole, I am very pleased with the way this project has gone. Once it was conceived, I can't imagine not having done it, and having done it, I am grateful that I was able to complete the trip without injury, with wonderful support from all concerned. It is very rare, in this life, to receive universal approval for one's actions, but I feel I have had this, for this period of time, and perhaps for this reason, I am aware of many ways in which it could have been done better. And I hope, in the future, it will be, perhaps not with a run, but with corporate funding and professional fund-raisers, an effort may be mounted that will slay the dragon once and for all.

Thanks to all, and with love and appreciation to my family and friends at Laurel Hill Golf Course, who treated me to a joyful reception at the airport in Medford the next day.

Peter Fish

Total miles: 1248.4

Total time running: 233.5 hours

Average rate: 11:19 minutes per mile (5.35 mph)

Total days: 75 (16.7 miles/day)

Running days: 65 (19.2 miles/day)



A report on the finish of the run, by Doris Tobias

We arrived home late last evening and I've been gone all day today but I do want you to know that yesterday in Washington DC was fantastic. Peter is an unbelievable 65-year-old, a dedicated and determined individual, so soft-spoken and unassuming but really quite resilient and resolved. He serves all sarcoma patients well.

It really was quite a day. My daughter Laura and I arrived early Thursday morning at the Lincoln Memorial, surprised at the ease of our trip there (no traffic problems), even found a parking space near the Memorial. About 12:30 pm we met Wayne and Jenny and anxiously looked over every jogger coming by (and there are quite a few despite the DC heat).

Just about 1 pm, Peter was spotted coming down the Memorial steps with John Casey, who had driven with his wife Pat all the way from Columbus Ohio to greet Peter upon his arrival. If you read Peter's log book, the Casey's 31-year-old daughter Shannon Mers was visited by Peter and she died shortly after. The Casey's were very active in getting Peter's run recognized by the citizens of Columbus, the mayor even declared a Sarcoma Awareness Day. Fritz Strohmeyer, who has been doing publicity for Peter's trip, drove down from Connecticut with his mother, aunt and a neighbor and they too were on the Memorial steps to welcome Peter. Dr. Mark Thornton of Damascus, MD, who is working on establishing a National Sarcoma Foundation, also met Peter. There was a lot of posing and picture taking and much joy among us all. Ellen's daughter, Cheryl, also joined us.

We then took off for the two mile walk down the Mall to the Capitol on what was turning into a very hot day. But Peter never seemed to mind the heat despite having already run 16-17 miles. And as you have already been told, when we approached the Capitol, Peter took off running again and seemingly without effort ran up the Capitol steps to the cheers and applause of the waiting crowd which included the Jeanette Moore family (daughters Jackie, Melanie and Kim and husband Robert, his son-in-law and seven grandchildren!) and the LMS quilt, Cheryl and Congressman Cannon and his aide. (please let me know if I left anyone out). So we made quite a group and Congressman Cannon was genuinely interested in Peter and his run and shared the story of his own daughter's battle with clear cell sarcoma.

Now those who have every visited Washington DC or read its history know that most of it lies in what used to be a dank swamp....which means the summer heat is really stifling. Temperatures on that Capitol porch must have been way above 100 degrees but Congressman Cannon and his aide put aside all their discomfort and spent at least a half hour chatting with Peter and our group. (and as an aside here, you all are my witnesses that I indeed pledged all my worldly goods and undying gratitude to my daughter for running back down the Capitol steps and back up again with a bottle of water to revive her seriously wilted mother....see, Laura, you have it in writing :-)! )

Of course, we were all disappointed that none of the many media channels that had been contacted showed up....then suddenly there is Manny Fernandez from the Washington Post!! He sat down in the shade (smart guy!) with Peter and chatted at length until we had to leave for Peter's 3 pm appointment with Oregon's Senator Wyden in the Senate office building a couple of blocks away. Regrettably there was no Post photographer. Manny said it wouldn't be a big article and it wasn't (see but at least it was something. Thank you, Manny Fernandez and the Washington Post.

At that point, we bid good-bye to everyone and Laura, Peter and I headed for the Senate office building. We were warmly greeted by Senator Wyden's staff and chatted with them about Peter's efforts while waiting for the Senator. The Senate official photographer and Senator Wyden's staff snapped several photos of Peter and Senator Wyden, who left his meetings to join us briefly.

Then we were off to Union Station near the Senate building to fortify Peter, who hadn't eaten since breakfast (indeed, Kati, you are right, he has a healthy appetite!). By chance we again met up with Robert Moore and his daughters and their families so we enjoyed spending some additional time with them.

We needed to get back to the Lincoln Memorial where Laura and I had left my car and, not having Peter's stamina, Laura and I decided we needed a taxi cab. So with D.C.'s finest, we were gently escorted back to the Lincoln Memorial and well-entertained along the way (be sure to look for the DC cab with Mickey Mouse on the dash in the movie Hannibal--and he was also in a Beau Bridges movie filmed in DC too but couldn't remember the name of it!).

We left about 5 pm, just about the time everyone else was leaving DC too. We did a short tour around the Smithsonian, the National Art Gallery, etc. and quite by accident also got a drive-by of Arlington National Cemetery (wrong turns in DC are an easy thing to least for me!).

We were headed to BWI (Baltimore Washington Airport) where Peter had a hotel for the night and Laura and I were going to take him out to dinner for some really good Maryland crab cakes. BWI is less than 40 miles from DC and takes about an hour.......nearly 4 hours later...we get to the restaurant near the airport. I honestly have never been in such a horrible traffic jam in my life. 295 in DC was closed down completely because of an upset gasoline tanker and ALL the traffic was being sent the wrong way down the access ramp onto an already crowded Pennsylvania Avenue. We had an ADC map of Washington DC and Peter worked and worked at navigating us out of the gridlock but no one was going anywhere fast! Welcome to Washington DC, Peter!! He commented later that he almost could have run faster to BWI than we did by car. We finally made our way over to Interstate 95 and got to the Baltimore Washington Parkway and whammo! gridlock again...this time an infamous humidity-induced thunderstorm has flooded the roadway and slowed traffic to a crawl.

The only advantage was we got to spend more time chatting with Peter! But we had a great Maryland Blue crab soup and crabcake dinner and got Peter to his hotel at BWI by 10 pm. His plane was to take off at 6 am with a stop over in Denver....and I heard on the news this afternoon that they had a terrible, damaging hailstorm which tied up flights I really hope that didn't include Peter.