I called my trail run from Cleveland an unassisted solo run. I was physically on the trail for many days by myself. Most of the journey I had no one by my side or a car waiting down the road for assistance.  Most of time, physically, I was solo and unassisted.  However, I have so many family members and friends to thank for assisting to making this journey possible.  

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it

a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you

                               need one.” – Jane Howard

My wife, Terry, who has put up with all my running adventures throughout the years.  She has always been there to help plan the complicated logistics that comes with these adventures. My sons, Tony, Rob and Eric who all came out to run portions of the trail with me.  Daughter, Shanon, was cheering me on from Florida.  My grandchildren, Aliah, Nolan, Colin and Ellah were sending me encouragement via videos and skype. Eric’s wife, Hannah ran with me for a full day.  When I started this journey, I had no idea of how much it would bring our family together.  

I would like to thank my charities.  Susan Young, my niece, who ran the UC Parkinson’s Decease Foundation fundraiser and Jill Cutter, who ran the Blueline K-9 Project fundraiser.  Their hard work made the fundraising portion of the trip a huge success.  Their support was so important during the journey.  Susan, Jill and Terry were the people who kept information flowing to the media pages during the run.  

My Queen City Running Club family was there for me as always.  Cody Kerr, my Covid year training partner, drove me to Cleveland and shared the first 15 miles and the last 6 miles with me. Rick Schwieter, thanks for sharing the some miles and all your help with medical supplies and logistics.  Thanks to “Donna’s Group” for all of the texts and phone calls.  And thanks to the whole QCRC family for your post, support and donations.

All of these people are my family in one way or another.  I am very lucky to have been able to share this journey with you.  I was never alone because I knew you were there with me. 

     The greatest moments in life are not concerned with

       selfish achievements but rather with the things we do

for the people we love and esteem – Walt Disney

2020 started pretty much the same as any other year.  The Queen City Running Club kicked off its spring marathon training in early January.  A couple weeks into the training, some of the coaches started talking about qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  That’s when I realized 2020 was the qualifying year for the 125th running of the Boston Marathon.  I hadn’t really tried to run fast for years because I had been focused on long distance running. I decided to give it a shot.  I had been running a 10 minute pace, give or take a little, for about 5 years.  I had to run a 9:18 pace to hit the qualifying time for the 65 and over age group.  But realistically, I knew I would have to run around a 9:00 pace to ensure a spot at the Boston Marathon.  I slowly started to trim time off of my miles.  Treadmill workouts on bad weather days proved to be very helpful.  By March, I was running sub 9:00 miles.  I had runs of 12 and 16 miles at an 8:45 pace.  I had picked the Carmel Marathon for my first qualifying attempt.  Only two and a half weeks from Carmel the Covid Pandemic hit.  That cancelled Carmel, so sights were set on the Athens Marathon.  Then, Athens was cancelled.  I continued to train and push hard but race after race was cancelled.  Finally in June, all of the hard training resulted in a torn calf muscle.  It took six weeks of rehab before I was able to start training again. I still had hopes of going to the Jack and Jill Downhill Marathon in Seattle to qualify in August only to see the race postponed and cancelled.  By this time, I had given up on finding a race to qualify for Boston.  In early August, I started to think about doing something long distance and moving back in my comfort zone.  Then out of nowhere, I came up with the Ohio to Erie Trail.  Since all of my usual races or qualifying races were cancelled, I decided to run all of them at once.  326 miles from Cleveland to Cincinnati would be my new goal.

When I finally announced my intentions in early August, my Covid training partner, Cody Kerr said if you go, I will drive you up to Cleveland.  And so the training began for this run. If you are going to do a 326 mile unassisted run, you might as well acquire some charities to run for.  The first charity would be The Blueline K-9 Project.  I had been trying to set up Jill Cutter with a fundraiser for months, only to see them all cancelled by Covid.  This one could not be cancelled.  Or so I thought!  In late August, someone came to my office, then tested positive for Covid.  Within days, my whole office staff had the Covid.  I was hit the hardest at age 65.  It was bad.  Two weeks of headaches, chills, flu-like symptoms, and trying to work from home.  When I was released to return to the office, I had lost 15 pounds and was as weak as I have ever been in my life.  My goal date for the run was October 16th.  I had 7 weeks to recover and train.

The first training run which I knew would be a run/walk affair was on a Sunday.  The 8 mile bike trail at Miami Whitewater Forest which I had been consistently running under 70 minutes all year turned into a two hour trek.  It wasn’t pretty but I was back on my feet.  Distances were short and times were slow for the first couple weeks of the recovery.  I was constantly monitoring my heart rate and paying close attention to how I was feeling. There are many articles on the condition of enlarged hearts after Covid. This was always on my mind.  Slowly increasing my miles every week, by week 5, I was able to run a 55 mile week which included back to back 20 milers on Saturday and Sunday.  Week 6 concluded the training with running the Flying Pig Marathon virtually for the second time in 2020 with training partner Cody on Saturday.  Now it was time to taper for Friday’s journey homeward from Cleveland.

By this time, I had added a second charity, I would dedicate the run in honor of my sister-in-law Mary.  Mary has been fighting Parkinson’s disease for many years. I wanted to do something to help the cause. 

The final few days consisted of the agonizing selection of what goes into your pack to maintain the unassisted survival on the trail.  Many 100 mile runners will tell you that packing drop bags is the worst part of the race.  I packed and unpacked the pack a dozen times, trying to get the weight to a manageable size.  But after all that, it was still 25-30 pounds.

Thursday afternoon, Cody met me at my house and we packed up my car and headed to Cleveland.  We had a stop in Reynoldsburg (just east of Columbus) on our way up.  My friend Greg Trapp lives there and I dropped supplies for the 2nd half of the trip home at his house.  Cody and I grabbed a bite to eat in Reynoldsburg and started north to Cleveland.  About halfway between Columbus and Cleveland, the reality of just how long of a journey this was going to be was starting to set in.  We arrived in Cleveland around 9:30 p.m.  We had a hotel in downtown Cleveland and were about 3 miles from the start in Edgewater Park.

The planned 7:30 AM start would be just one many failed plans during the journey home. The 7:30 start actually happened at 8:30 AM. After a few quick pictures, Cody and I started south on the Ohio to Erie Trail headed to Cincinnati.  We quickly discovered that following the trail is not always the easiest thing to do.  We headed out of the park on the wrong exit which was quickly corrected. In Cleveland, we followed a few miles of streets to the trailhead.  At this point we thought we would be good but still in town, we ran into trail construction.  We had to navigate alleys and backstreets to get back to the trail.  Finally on the trail again, we were running a blistering pace considering I was toting the 30 pound pack.  Around 11:15 a.m. we were out of Cleveland and heading toward the Cuyahoga National Forest.  Knowing we were getting close to the forest, we spied a couple restaurants near the trail and grabbed some lunch. We hit mile 15 and the Cuyahoga National Forest which marked the end of the trip for Cody.  Cody Ubered back to the car for the long drive back to Cincy and I was on the solo journey home. I would be in the Cuyahoga National Forest for the next 25 miles until I arrived in Akron.  The forest was beautiful and filled with wildlife and scenery. The trail was mostly crushed limestone in the forest.  The trail is actually the old towpath of the Ohio/Erie Canal. Many of the old locks are still intact. The stones they constructed the locks with are huge which is why they are still there.  The forest did provide one danger, HUMANS.  While running thru the wetlands on a long boardwalk, I was just to the end of the boardwalk which was a curve going into a steep uphill when I heard screaming.  When I looked up there was a young lady on a rental bike headed straight for me.  I jumped out of the way as the out of control bike grazed my calf leaving a large black mark on my leg.  She never stopped or came back to apologize.  

Around 5:00 PM I arrived in Akron.  Previous planning provided me with my dining destination.  R. Shea Brewing is right on the trail.  After a nice IPA and a pulled pork sandwich, I was back on the trail.  I had about an hour of daylight left then it was into the darkness through Akron.  The trail would be difficult to navigate in town going back and forth from street to street.  It required much time asking for directions and navigating on Google maps. Once out of town, I hit trail construction again which included a lot of climbing.  After the detour, the trail was easy to follow again and I was headed to Massillon 30 miles away. On the way, I would pass through many little towns, none that had much to offer in the way of food and water. I came into a little town called Canal Fulton and could see the restaurants and even a Walgreens but they were on the other side of the canal and I would have a two mile run before I could cross the canal.  I would have to run 4 miles to get food and water and return to the same spot. So, I pushed further into the night.  At this point, I had started rationing my water.  Later, I came out into a trailhead.  I saw a police officer sitting in the parking lot doing his paperwork.  So I decided to ask him for a possible water source nearby.   He said there was nothing nearby and asked what I was doing on the trail that late at night.  I told him I was headed to Cincinnati.  He said, “WHAT!”  I said yes I am raising money for Parkinson’s Disease and the Blueline K-9 Project.  He said that’s great and thanked me for being involved with the K-9s.  Then he said hey I may have a bottle of water in the back for you. We went around back and he opened the hatch to reveal a 24 pack of 16 oz. bottles with only a couple gone.  He gave me two bottle to fill my reservoir.  Then, I was back on the trail fully hydrated again.  Around 4:00 AM I was starting to sleepwalk on the trail and knew I needed a nap. However, the wind-chill was dipping down around 22 degrees and I knew I couldn’t sleep on the trail.  Several miles later I hit another trailhead.  I decided I needed to relieve some of my newly found hydration but the men’s port-a-let was out of service.  So I used the women’s.  These port-a-lets were the big wheelchair accessible type. I noticed that it actually didn’t smell in there and it was much warmer than outside.  So I sat down and leaned against the side and took a 30 minute nap. I don’t think I have regained my sense of smell since the Covid, so maybe it did smell. Oh well, I enjoyed the much needed nap.  Two and a half more hours to daylight and now I was on the other side of Massillon.  Daylight arrived around 7:30 a.m.  The sun would reveal a beautiful frozen landscape.  Everything was covered in a heavy white frost which was great for the scenery but still a little cold for running.  Once the sun came up and was starting to warm things up a bit, I found a place to take another little nap in the sun.  I quickly fell asleep for a short time (maybe 20 minutes).  I woke up and once again, I was cold.  The nice sunny spot was now eclipsed by the shade of a tree and once again I would arise to hit the trail.  Around noon, I would hit the small town of Dalton.  Dalton was at least big enough to have a Wendy’s and an Arby’s.  I stopped and called home.  I decided to try to get some lodging for the night.  My wife and son Tony would try to find something on the way but there were no motels in any of the little towns.  I ate lunch at Wendy’s which had a big sign stating “Dining Room Open” which was a lie.  So, I sat on the curb of the sidewalk and ate outside to the annoying sounds of the Trump Rally passing on the highway.  You didn’t hardly see anyone passing through these small little towns. So, where did these 3 million pick-up trucks with Trump Flags come from?  I would have to push to Apple Creek then get a Lyft to Wooster for the night’s stay at a Quality Inn.  

Sunday morning would start with more logistical problems.  I started trying to book an Uber or a Lyft but none were available.  I called taxis trying to get a ride back to the trail 8 miles away.  I finally found one but it wouldn’t come until 8:00.  It finally arrived at 8:20.  I arrived at the trail at 8:40 for a very late start once again.  This section of the trail was all roads until Fredericksburg.  Who knew I would be caught in rush hour traffic on a Sunday but I was right in the middle of it.  Apparently, I was on the same route as the Amish church.  I was passed on the road by dozens of horse drawn Amish buggies for the first half hour of my run.  7 miles in, I would arrive in Fredericksburg to reunite with the bike trail after the long road section.  As I approach the trail, I see cars everywhere and some runners with race bibs on. I got to the trail and there was a timing clock running and people crossing the finish line.  I stopped to ask what was going on.  The Vertical Runner store was having a half and full marathon on the bike trail.  It was nice because I was running south and the finishers were running north on the trail.  It was nice to share the trail for the next 8 miles with fellow runners.  This portion of the trail was also shared with the Amish horse and buggies.  I assume that was to keep them off a nearby highway.  I spent a lot of time dodging road apples.  I was approaching Millersburg when it started to rain.  I made it to town and got to a restaurant just as it started to rain hard.  I had a hardy lunch and returned to the trail.  I was now at mile 107 heading south from Cleveland.  I was considerably behind schedule to where I planned to be. I had underestimated the burden of carrying the heavy pack.  The rain had stopped and I was feeling good as I ran through the afternoon.  When I hit the town of Killbuck I was off the trail again for another 8 mile section of road.  The goal was to arrive in Glenmont before dark.  As I was running out of Killbuck I received a text from my brother Phil stating that Mary’s latest surgery was very successful.  I decided to give her a call. Mary was in very good spirits although understandably not sounding real strong.  She put me on speaker and I spent some time chatting with her and Phil as I ran through the Black Creek Valley.  I arrived in Glenmont just as it got dark. The only restaurant/bar in town looked like it was closed.  So, I was standing in the street trying to weigh my options when I saw a car pull around the back.  I walked over to them and said I think they closed.  They said no. We are getting ready to go in. So I followed them in.  A few steps through the back door, a lady steps out of the kitchen and asks if I am eating because she’s getting ready to close the kitchen.  I said I will take what is ever easiest for you.  Apparently, Chili and a BLT is what is easiest.  So I found a table near an outlet and started charging my phone and power supply for the long night ahead.

I left Glenmont short after 8:30 PM Sunday night and once again I was back to the safety of the bike trail.  It was a long distance to the next town of Danville.  I turned on my music and ran through the night. It was cool and peaceful with very little sign of any human existence.  An occasional house somewhere out in the distance was pretty much all there was out there.  I was approaching Danville when I decided that I would have to camp on the trail that night.  At midnight, I got my little Mylar tent out of the pack and went to sleep.  I woke about 2:00 AM to the sound of ticking on the tent.  I quickly realized it was spitting rain and went back to sleep.  At 3:00 AM, I woke again and it was raining buckets.  So I decided to put on my rain gear and hit the trail again. Shortly after I began to run, I was in the town of Danville.  As luck would have it, in the pouring rain I saw the most beautiful site ever.  A 24/7 laundromat.  I needed to clean my previous day’s clothes anyway, so I did my laundry and finished sleeping in the laundromat.   About 6:00 AM I was back on the trail in the pouring rain.  5 miles later I was in the metropolis of Howard hoping to find a restaurant but no luck.  I found an old train tunnel as I left town under the road.  I sat down and reached into the pack for emergency rations.  Emergency rations consisted of Jif peanut butter and Cheez Its.  A quick four hundred calories would get me to the next town.  When I got to the next town of Gambier it was the same story, no food.  I pushed on toward Mt. Vernon.  I was tired and hungry. My pace was horrible.  I was going nowhere fast.  I had to make a decision on the big plan to get to Cincinnati.  I could keep going after a short lunch break which would surely mean finding shelter on the trail again that night. Or I could stop in Mt. Vernon and recharge for the next day.  I decided to stay in Mt. Vernon.  Comfort Inn was just on the other side of the river off the trail.  I walked into the motel to find out it had been rented to the local college until May 10th.  The college is using the motel for Covid spacing.  So, they recommended the Grand, which was a very classy downtown motel.  Check in would have to wait.  Eating was the priority of the moment and Domino’s pizza was right across the street.  After eating almost a whole large pizza, I headed to the Grand.  I got to my room around 12:30 and slept until 4:30 in the afternoon.  When I woke up, I had to start getting things together.  My first priority was drying my shoes with the hairdryer so I could go out for dinner.  After dinner, it was back to bed for a 3:00 AM start to Columbus the next morning.

Tuesday is 52 miles to Columbus or bust.  It is imperative I reach Columbus because there is nowhere to stay in between Mt. Vernon and Columbus.  I started the run in a light drizzle and fairly warm weather.  I was worried I would be too warm in my rain gear.  I ran for about an hour when the sky opened up.  It was raining a hard, driving rain.  The rain was very cold and the temperature was dropping.  The cold rain was draining my core temperature.  I was about 13 miles in when the trail crossed a small side road.  I looked down the road and saw light pushing out on the road.  It looked like it could be a gas station.  It was!  I went in and had breakfast sandwiches and was able to get warmed up.  I got back on the trail and into the rain.  The rain lasted another couple of hours and that would be the last time I would see rain for the rest of the trip home.  At noon, I would arrive in Sunbury just in time for lunch.  I found a great restaurant called the Surve.  Loaded potato soup, sliders, and mashed potatoes were a little too much for lunch but I was hungry.  After lunch I was halfway to Columbus.  The afternoon run would be nice with no rain gear.  I went through some cool little towns, parks, and around a lake.  Mid-afternoon I would call Greg Trapp to meet up for new shoes and my second half supplies.  We decided to meet at a trailhead inside the I-270 loop.  It was good to see Greg and I would have only 10 miles left to downtown.  The new more padded shoes arrived on Monday courtesy of my son Tony.  Tony just happened to be in Columbus on business.  I rummaged through the box for batteries and more GU.  I put the northern trail maps in the box and was looking for the southern trail maps.  Unfortunately, I could only find one of the two maps.  Greg called his wife to find the missing map and I called home to get help finding a motel for the night.  Greg found the map and suggested that he come back pick me up after the ten miles and I could stay near his house.  So around 8:30 p.m., Greg picked me up and took me to my motel for the night.  

Wednesday’s run would be 40 miles to South Charleston.  Greg picked me up at 6:30.  I was moving a little slow and spent some time removing gear out of the pack I hadn’t used.  It wasn’t a lot but even two or three pounds was a mental help.  Greg dropped at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center where I had stopped the night before.  I started the run through Columbus and about three miles in, my son Tony called me.  We were talking on the phone when I got a sharp pain in my lower hamstring.  It was my first “Oh NO” moment of the trip.  I knew I couldn’t finish the 125 miles I had left with a bad hamstring.  I quickly called Iain Hughes from Flex Therapy.  We talked for a while and came up with a plan to loosen up the hamstring.  It consumed a lot of time but in an hour and a half later I was running again.  The leg did well for the rest of the day.  But I lost a lot of time so it was now 11:00 AM and I had only managed 10 miles.  Always being mindful that I’m headed for the small towns ahead, I am always looking for food sources.  I grabbed a quick lunch just before I crossed under the I-270 loop.  From then on, I was on a geometric straight line theory to Xenia.  It was a rails to trails section of the course.  There was still good scenery.  However, it was just in a straight line.  Around 5:00 PM I arrived in London.  I spotted a KFC and scored some mashed potatoes and gravy with a big Pepsi. Earlier in the afternoon, I started to try to set lodging for the night. Unfortunately, it was going to be 10 miles from the trail.  I tried to set up Uber and Lyfts but there is no service in the area.  I tried taxi cabs but most were being serviced from the Columbus area.  So I called the Blueline K-9 Project Director, Jill Cutter, for some assistance.  She was able to get me a ride from the South Charleston police and they drove me to the room.  The officer that picked me up was super friendly.  He wanted to know all the details of my journey.  He even bought me dinner.  He went into the lobby of the motel with me.  I could tell the older lady working the desk had no sense of humor by the handling of the customer before me.  How could I resist?  I have a reservation for Engel.  She says, “I have it right here.”  I said, “Well I finally got released.”  Her face was now showing panic. Officer Doug could see it in her face and left her off the hook. He said, “No, no he is one of the good guys” and started explaining my run as I filled out the paperwork.  As we left the lobby he started laughing and said, “I believe you were about to sleep outside again tonight.”  We laughed and shook hands.  I thanked Doug and started to my room.  The hardest part of the trip was over because Thursday would bring trail companions.  In the morning, the Madison Sheriff department drove me back to where I left the trail.  

Thursday morning started with the usual morning delay.  The scheduled start was 7:00 AM but the Madison County Sheriff's shift change was also at 7:00.  So I didn’t get picked up until 7:30 and started running at 7:45.  I would run 5 miles to Selma where I would meet my daughter-in-law Hannah and good friend Rick Schwieter.   Rick was on his way to work and was helping Hannah with the logistics of parking her car near her finish point for the day.  When they arrived, the hamstring was acting up again.  So I made another call to Iain Hughes for advice.  I ask Iain about possibly using a topical like Bengay or Icy Hot.  Iain said, “No, your injury is too deep.”  Iain asked if I had any compression sleeves. I did at one point but those were lost in the weight reduction program in Columbus.  I said what about an ace bandage. Iain said that would work.  Rick ran about 3 miles with me.  It would be the only three miles I would run without my pack.  When we got to Hannah, the leg was not getting better.  Cedarville was only a couple miles away and had a mom and pop pharmacy.  Rick switched with Hannah and drove to Cedarville for the ace bandage.  Hannah and I had only run a mile or two when Rick came back with the ace bandage.   I wrapped my leg and Iain had scored another save.  Rick was off to work and me and Hannah were off for a long day on the trail.  We had only a short distance to Cedarville which we finished by 11:00 AM.  And for the first time in two hundred miles there was a restaurant right on the trail.  I said we better eat here because you don’t know when we might get to eat again.  As we walked closer, we discovered it was a Mexican restaurant.  The spicy food did not stop us from eating there.  After lunch we had an 8 mile run to Xenia.  Xenia was an important mile mark because it was the end of the straight line southwest from Columbus and the start directly south onto what Cincinnatians call the Little Miami bike trail. It was also the end of map 3.  When we got to Xenia the temperature had gotten a little warmer and we needed water before we left town.  I thought there would be plenty of places in Xenia near the trail but that was not the case.  Looking at the map, I knew we were getting close to leaving town.  We asked a guy walking down the street if there was a gas station or convenient store nearby.  He said, “That’s where I’m going.” It’s right over there, pointing at some grain silos.  About a quarter to half mile later we arrived at the gas station right over there.  After a candy bar and some Gatorade, we headed back to the trail and onto the next trailhead in Spring Valley.  During this section, we would encounter quite a bit of nature.  The warm temperatures had drawn dozens of little snakes out onto the trail to warm themselves.  Kudos to Hannah, most people would have freaked out but Hannah was fine sharing the trail with our new friends.  Eric would pick Hannah after 21 miles. He also delivered to me a much needed hamburger and a Coke.  Hannah’s company on the trail made the day fly by but I still had 13 miles to go before I would be picked up for the day.  I would run for a while in the twilight before I was back in the darkness of the night.  Around 9:00 PM, sons Rob and Tony would get me off the trail.  Rob dropped me and Tony at an Airbnb several miles away.  Another 40 mile day in the books with one more to go on Friday.

Friday morning, Tony and I took a Lyft back to the trail location from the night before. We actually started close to the estimated start time for only the second time on the journey.  6:30 AM and pitch black on the trail.  We were on our way to Cincinnati.  I was sore and beat up after the first 280 miles.  I didn’t seem to notice as much because today was going to be epic. Tony and I ran as daylight finally fell along the Little Miami River.  We stopped to take some pictures at day break.  Shortly after, we ran under the Fort Ancient I-71 Bridge.  We always wondered what was under that very high bridge and now we know.  A few miles later we hit Morrow and we stopped for snack.  I called my buddy Rich Kruze who lives near the trail.  He said he would meet us for a while when we got closer.  Somewhere near South Lebanon, Rich showed up on his bike and escorted Tony and I down the trail to Loveland.  Along the way Rich was pointing out points of interest and sharing stories with us.  Loveland was another big stop on the way into town.  We would have our lunch delivered by Rob and he would join us the rest of the way.  As we approached Loveland, the Channel 19 news crew was set up on the trail for an interview. Ashley Smith would give us a great interview that really helped us accomplish our fundraising goals.  After the interview, we met Rob and had lunch.  We were on the trail and it was the best time in my running career. I was finally getting to run a long distance with my family.  I cherished every moment.  Tony’s never ending determination to 40 mile with his dad untrained and Rob’s sarcasm and wit are a great addition to any event.  They were a little perplexed with my excitement about running under the I-275 bridge but for me it actually marked being back in Cincinnati and I was almost there.  We were counting the mile markers on the trail to 54.5 where we would hit Fifty West Brewing.  But we were still 12 miles away.  A few miles later, in Miamiville, Rob spotted the Village Grocery.  This was a huge score because the temperature was getting hot and we were running straight into the sun.  After some cold drinks and some added calories, we pushed on to the Fifty West Brewery.  Eric and Hannah, plus some of their friends, were waiting at a table just inside the gate.  They had prompted everyone in the area to cheer when we arrived.  Very nice!  We had a beer and burger at Fifty West.  I posted a “Where’s Waldo” picture and moments later my friend Tom showed up at the table which was awesome.  I am not going to lie, I didn’t want to leave.  But the three of us, all hurting, started out on the road again.  I told Tony, why don’t you stay here with Eric.  He said no way!  If you’re going, I’m going.  Well, if you know Tony, it didn’t come out exactly that way.  A few miles later we went through Mariemont and got a few horns of recognition from some passing cars as we passed through the village.  Down to the Frisch’s Mainliner and left toward Lunken Airport to end the 40 mile day for me and Tony.  16 miles for Rob.  Tony had never ran more than 13 miles and Rob never more than 3 or 4.  I was so proud of them and their accomplishments and companionship that day.  We could have finished at the bridge that night but it would have been hard to coordinate it with the charities. We decided to have a 10:00 AM finish at the Suspension Bridge in the morning.  Eric and Hannah picked us up and we headed to Street Side Brewery to celebrate the day’s hard work.

On Saturday at 6:30 AM Eric and Hannah would pick me up at the house for the final section of the journey.  Hannah dropped me and Eric about a mile out from Lunken and took the car back to the parking lot.  Eric and I started the run to the Suspension Bridge.  We were almost to Lunken when we were met by the Queen City Running Club group.  It was the group of people I always run with, affectionately referred to as Donna’s group.  It was a fairly large group that morning and included my training partner and wheelman Cody.  When we got to Lunken, we would pick up Hannah and two of my long time trail running friends, Marty Fritzhand and Brian Young.  The next 6 miles would be a blur.  All along the way we continued to pick up runners.  Brian Young would inform me that my sister-in-law with Parkinson’s was going to be at the finish.  This is great news because before the most recent surgery, Mary could hardly get around her house.  We were running ahead of schedule so we had to stop at Friendship Park for refreshment for a few minutes.  We timed our 10:00 arrival and started toward the finish line.  As we approached the finish, we were still picking up runners.  We had over 40 runners and there were around 50 family members and friends at the finish.  Jill had 3 K-9 units from the Cincinnati Police.  It was an awesome site.  As I approached the finish I could see Mary stand on the trail.  I crossed the finish line and gave Mary a hug.  It was emotional.  Sue, her daughter who was coordinating the Parkinson’s fundraiser, came up and informed me that we had met our goal and had raised more than $5000.  I had to call up the rest of the crew who got me through my journey.  My wife, who put up with the crazy idea to run home from Cleveland and was always there to help book the night’s lodging.  Jill, the director of the Blueline K-9 Project, who was always checking in to see how I was doing or asking for more pictures.  At one point she was telling me to stop because we had already raised enough money for one K-9 vest.  It was a great ceremony with pictures of the family, the K-9 units, friends, and much more.  I may have done a solo run but I had a ton of people and family supporting the whole time.  This journey was a huge success and it is one I will never forget for many reasons.

If you enjoyed reading this story, then you should know why it written.  It was a request from my stepmother, Billie.  She wanted me to write an account of my journey that could be pasted down for years to come.  Had she not made such a request, the run report would be a few lines posted on Facebook.  Her persistence resulted in this account of my journey. 

There is not much you can buy a person who has just turned 99 years old.  So on her birthday bought some batteries and a tube of caulk.  I changed the batteries in her smoke detectors and caulked her shower.  You would think these things would be provided by the facility she lives in.  They probably would be provided for most 99 year old people.  However, Billie lives by herself which is amazing.  Maintenance chores are not much of a birthday present.  However, getting something unexpectedly is a great present.  She was very surprised to receive this report on her birthday.  She was very happy to receive it.  

I would like to thank Billie for all her support and guidance over the years.

Oh yeah, Billie is from Texas where her 104 year old sister lives.  How about longevity genes?