The residual hangover from the holidays, in this case a head cold and issues at work have put my writing on hold. Even though life continues to feel as if the blender is on high speed I hope to reestablish several routines.
After great food and home brewed beer Ultra’thoner and I decided another day splitting wood wasn’t an option as the temperatures warmed into the teens for the first time in several days. He wanted to do an 18 miler or so. I wasn’t as confident in my distance as all my runs for the last two months have been short or medium at best. After a non-running week in PA for Christmas, where all I did was eat and drink, I figured I’d survive and be sore later.
We left the log cabin about noon with a little sun to inspire us down the snowy road Ultra’thoner in his ’10 mile’ yellow jacket leading the way. I couldn’t imagine anyone, who can legally see, could miss us on the roads we had to travel; especially against the white snow or red dirt roads.
Ultrathoner in his yellow jacket coming around the bend.
Since we are both training for the Syllamo three day race in Arkansas in March we didn’t need to push the pace. With the temperature in the mid teens we were happy when the sun cleared the clouds and helped to warm up the day. Our goal was to run the back country roads and trails towards the Peter Norbeck Highway on the way past Mt. Rushmore and get picked up in the tourist town of Keystone.
So over hills…
and through the woods…
and snowy roads of Ghost Canyon…
…we went. The miles fell quickly as we planned and dreamed about races for the new year as well as future adventures, for example running the first marathon ever.
Did you know that 2010 is the 2500th anniversary of the original marathon? It is now known as the Athens Marathon.
The modern Athens Marathon commemorates the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield at the site of the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C., bringing news of a Greek victory over the Persians. Legend has it that Pheidippides delivered the momentous message "Niki!" ("victory"), then collapsed and died, thereby setting a precedent for dramatic conclusions to the marathon.
After 13 miles we reached the highpoint of the Peter Norbeck Highway. On the way up the hill we were able to get glimpses of Mt. Rushmore off in the distance. Many places along the road the trees were cut down to allow for such scenic views.
We headed downhill as the sunlight receeded and the temperatures dropped due to a moderate wind. The really interesting part of this leg were the tunnels and bridges, built during the 1930's by the CCC, in a corkscrew or 'pig tail' fashion. By today's standards the roads could be straighter but the character would be lost. The underside of each bridge is made of large logs stained by creosote to preserve them. The loops are fun to run so I'm sure they are also fun to drive or ride.
Haliku at the first Pigtail
One of the last tunnels
We soon came upon the shuttered tourist town of Keystone. Nine of ten businesses were closed for the season. I can only imagine the zoo of tourists that wander the town during the summer as it is only one mile from the gate to Mt. Rushmore. But before we entered Keystone and had our welcomed ride home…
(Haliku taking a break with Mt. Rushmore in the background)
…we had one last chat with the Presidents. The 20 miles were not a speed record but solid training for time on our feet. I hope the rest of my runs this year are as enjoyable as running around the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Run well and travel safely in 2010!
Get out and Explore the World!