Mountain Home Marathon For Kenya - November 20, 2004
A Test of Endurance

I was looking forward for several weeks to run the Gobbler Grind Marathon in Overland Park KS on 11/21. Last week, however, I found out that the race had sold out. Determined to run a marathon the projected weekend, I started shopping around for another. I found the Mountain Home Marathon within driving distance in N. Arkansas. Emailing the race director, I learned that this was the first running of this race and it was to benefit villages in Kenya. I am a supporter of missions, so I was nearly sold on going. She told me the course was all asphalt, which is what I was hoping for. I told her that I would see them on Friday, committing myself to the run. The next day, however, I spoke to her on the phone and her husband informed me that a large majority of the course was chip seal. (For a good description of chip seal, go to http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/regions/Eastern/ChipSealResurfacing.cfm.) Well, I was not feeling as good about my ability to run a fast race on this course, but I decided I could finish if I just took it slow. I told them I would still see them on Friday.

My drive of 275 miles to N. Arkansas was uneventful other than the fading beauty of late fall, early winter in the Ozarks. I arrived at my hotel, checked in and got ready to go to the pre-race lasagna dinner and registration. At the registration/dinner, a bluegrass band was cranking out the tunes as folks enjoyed their dinner. I got to speak to several folks about barefoot running, had some good conversation with some 50 staters, and then headed back to the hotel. The lasagna did not quite meet my need, so I called out for my traditional pre-race anchovy pizza. Yumm! Retiring about 10 p.m., I called it a night.

Click Here For Photos!

The Race

Arrived at the start about 7:40 a.m. at the local high school. Folks were starting to line up so I chatted with a few people and snapped some pics. Right before the start of the race, got to take a couple of shots of the Kenyans. I knew this was probably the closest I would get to them in the race.

The race began at 8 sharp. We wound through some residential areas and then through Arkansas State University campus. The asphalt surface felt good. Was this the chip seal they were speaking of? If so, I knew I had it made for it did look a bit grainy but it felt like asphalt to me. We continued on out of town and through several miles of large hills. The photo journalist of the Baxter Bulletin snapped a couple of pics of me heading up a hill. Later he drove by me slowly, getting some information for the newspaper. At about mile 7 or 8, the surface of the road changed to true chip seal, a grainy, pebbly texture that felt and looked like it was gravel held down by glue (think of some HARD Rice Krispies). I had to slow up on this surface to about a 10 minute pace. I concentrated on bending my knees and planting more of my entire foot rather than coming down with full force on the ball of the foot. That section of chip seal only lasted about 2 miles. I was back on asphalt! Yeh! I thought, well if it is staggered that way every couple of miles or so, I would be okay. The next couple of miles I picked up the pace some.

Then, at about mile 12, I hit chip seal again. This texture would not end until mile 25. Sections were so rough in places down by the White River that I attempted at times to run on the grassy shoulder. The only problem with that was avoiding the shredded aluminum cans from the mowers, and sections of thorns that come up unexpectedly. These miles were SLOW, but I never quit running. I have a thing about running versus walking. That is always one of my goals in a marathon which is not to walk, no matter how slow my pace.

Finally, at mile 25 I hit asphalt again and was able to pick up the pace. I crossed the finish line with a time of 4:19:57. I was satisfied with just finishing. THIS WAS THE MOST DEMANDING MARATHON I HAVE EVER RAN! It literally felt like a feat of endurance, which I feel like I passed the test. At the finish, I was greeted by well-wishers along with Laurie Kasinger, the race director. She laughingly told me that she would see about the county resurfacing the roads for me before next year's marathon. I said that I would be obliged.

Overall, a very tough course but a satisfying effort on my part. I gave it my best shot and felt like a winner. I had fun, even despite the physical demand. What more could I want in a marathon?

Additional Stuff!

Photo Page!
Results
Pre-race Article in the Baxter Bulletin Newspaper! (Mention of Barefoot Rick to run marathon on Saturday)
Post-race Article in the Baxter Bulletin Newspaper! (Pic of barefootin' it along West Road)

Race & Personal Factoids:

Successful Completion of Marathon # 23
Finished 5th Barefoot Marathon
Finish Time = 4:19:57 (9:55 Pace)
22nd of 48 Finishers
18th of 32 Male Finishers
6th Place (40 to 49 Year Old Males)
 

Back to Barefoot Rick's Running Page!