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Arkansas Traveller 100
Perryville, AR
October 4-5, 2003

My Arkansas Traveller Report (as requested by Suzi) by Mark Dick

It all started at the Wasatch Front  100 with my first-ever DNF. After sulking for a week at home, I decided to see if I could run the Arkansas Traveller 100. So, with some stealth training at White Rock Lake, I found I could run with extra padding in my right shoe. I decided that if I could run 20 miles in a good time at the lake, I would sign up for AT.  I met my goal (a fast 20-miler) the next weekend, so off went my money to Arkansas.

On Oct. 2nd, we arrived in Coffee Creek, Ark. early enough for me to have my Thursday-before-the-race  cigar and a cold, dark beer. I got there too late, however to meet Roger Ackerman and repeat our Wasatch party from the year before. I fired up my Ramon  Allones Habana and popped the top on a 1554 ale. I knew it was going to be a good weekend at that point.

Friday morning: Off to the weigh-in.  I weighed in at 164 lbs. I think I look lighter than that.  Chrissy, the Race Director, kept  calling me Joe. I thought it was just a pet name, until I found out she thought I was Joe Pursaitis since I was pacing Letha at Vermont (Joe, you can  send me my Hardrock and Badwater buckles anytime). Anyway, I was Joe to her all  weekend.  

After the dinner, and meeting more friends, and more carbo-loading on beer, it was early to bed.  Saturday morning: It was sure nice to start at 6:00 an instead of 4:00 am. I’m not the best morning person.  After lots of hugs and handshakes we were off. 

Frank Sinatra’s ”That’s Life,” was playing on my MP3 player.

At about five miles, I was feeling just great. I was running withPaul Schmidt when he told me I was on a 20-hour pace at that point. OK! Time to back off a bit. I am in no way a 20-hour, 100-mile runner.  I loved the  single-track part of the course and wish they had more of that in the race. Arkansas has some of the best trails in the country. I know. I have ridden my mountain bike up there a lot.

Lake Sylvia - 16.4 miles: It was nice to see all of the NTTR crew there.  I had planned to have no crew or  pacers on this run, but could not turn the help from our team. They are the  best. Thanks to Paul, Ginger, Antje, Mike, Scott, Kelly and Archie. I love a cold nose up my butt when I’m getting stuff out of my drop bag. I picked up my  second bottle and supplements and grabbed food from the table and off I was.

Next stop was the Pumpkin Patch, and, yes, I had pie.  It was great, Tom. 

On the way to Rocky Gap (28.6 miles) I met up with Tim Brenner. He was trying to finish his first 100. We had a great talk for a bit, and then he left me behind. As I came into Rocky Gap, I yelled “On-On.”  You see, this a hasher aid station. I told them I would be back for my “Down-Down” later on Sunday morning.

Lake Winona  - 31.9 miles into the run: I saw the NTTR gang again. I was not there for long and it was up hill eating everything I could carry from that aid station.

A bout a mile from there, Sarah  Brown passed me. She was running with two guys. I thought she was running with Thorbjorn from Houston, but she said he was ahead of us. The next aid station  was Pigtrail, then Club Flamingo.

Now they had a great aid station!  I got my drop bag and got more food and was off toward Smith Mountain. I heard  this was a grunt so I was ready for it. I was surprised what good time I made up  and down. I felt really great at this point. On the way down, I passed Thorbjorn. He told me he went out too fast and was dropping at Powerline. I  tried to get him not to drop; to keep going.

I was feeling great running down these long down hills. I came into Chicken Gap, where I came up on Sarah. I did not use this aid station, because Powerline was only a little more than two  miles away, and that was a drop-bag station.

Powerline - 48.2 miles: I came in  there feeling really strong. There was the whole NTTR gang again. Did I tell how good they are to you in a race? I was in and out of there in a flash.

Off to the turnaround.

I got to the 50-mile mark, and I was at 12 hours. I was happy with my time, so far.

Chile Pepper Aid Station: Another  great stop. Lots of good food. I grabbed all I could, and was out of there. Saw Lethal Letha half way from there to Powerline. She looked great. She said, she was slowing down a bit.  She could feel her Grand Slam legs at that point. She is one tough lady.

I thought that that last uphill to the turnaround was never going to end. I would ask someone how far and he or she  would say, “Just around the next corner.” Ultra Runners are the biggest liars I  have ever met.

I got to Turnaround and grabbed my lights and some more food. You’ve got to love the food.

As I was leaving, Sarah was coming in. She was still looking strong (Sarah has beaten me in every 50k we have run).  So, off to Powerline I went. Half way back to Powerline, I saw something in the road. It was a big copper head snake.

I was with a guy from Japan and I  don’t think he spoke a word of English. We stopped and I threw a rock at the snake, hoping it would slither away. Instead, it came after us. It was mad.

We both ran past him, screaming like schoolgirls and laughing.

Almost back to Powerline: I came across Archie, Scott, and Kelly. Scott told me I had a good pace and looked great. He’s a ultra runner, so I took it he was a lair, too.

I got to Powerline - 67.7 miles. This was the last time I’d would see the NTTR crew. Some were pacing, and some were going to bed.

Off to Smith Mountain. Remember  when I told you I flew over this mountain? Well, not this time. The rocks had  moved behind the grass. It was hard to see them in the dark. (I think the Arkansas. runners moved them there on their way back over to get us Texans). I got to Mickey’s aid station, got some soup, and was off to Club  Flamingo.

Club Flamingo - 76.4: I got my drop  bag, some more soup, and took off as quickly as I could. After Pigtrail, it started raining. Gee, guess who left his poncho at Club Flamingo? It was raining good now, and I was wet and getting cold. I tried to hide under trees, but that  did not work. I got into Lake Winona and weighed in. I was a pound heavy. I got a dry shirt and, this time, a poncho.

I saw Tim. He was having trouble with blisters. I had a few, too, but I figured I’d take care of them after the  race. Tim and I traded spots a few times. My foot hurt going down hill. But I was still strong on the up-hills (Jay’s school of fast walking).

I was in a hurry to get to Rocky Gap and have my beer. As I was going up a long up-hill, I saw a green and a white  light behind me. I thought it was Sarah  (and Ginger), but it turned out to be two guys. 

I thought for sure she would have  caught me by now.

 Rocky Gap - 87.2 miles: As I came into this aid station, I yelled “On On,” and asked for a circle-up, and a song,  and my “Down-Down”.  They sang me a good song, and I downed my beer. Now that was the best beer I have ever had. That was my last stop at an aid  station.

It was cool and really raining hard, so I had plenty of water. I was on a march to the barn. As the sun came up, I saw some rocks on the road that looked like little flying saucers floating about two feet off the ground. I got to the water crossing.  On the way out, I went over these rocks like a pro. Not this time. I did not fall in, but I must have looked like Jerry Lewis on crack trying to cross this stream. I kept looking over my shoulder to see if Sarah was going to catch me. I was wondering why my neck hurt.

I got to the last down hill road to  Lake Sylvia and met Linda Hurd. She walked my last mile with me. She told me I  looked good and I knew she was a liar, too :-). As I came around the last corner, I  could hear the music playing. I could see all my friends cheering. Even Archie. I  got tons of hugs - even one from  Scott. My time 28:24:09 and I was very happy with that.

It was a great race put on by Chrissy  and Stan Ferguson. I had one of my best runs so far. I felt good the whole race and had a good attitude most of the time. 

In my next report, I will tell how Stan stole the Texas team trophy. Bad, bad boy, Stan!

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