Pre-Run:

It all started when a fellow Nike+ runner (hmonkeyruns) posted an entry about RunAmerica on the Nike+ forums. I then went to the site and paid my 3.95 for a chance to be part of something pretty cool and amazing. So on June 28th, I signed up with the hopes of being able to run with Charlie and Marshall. I kept checking back on the casting site to see any information posted. I started to wonder if I wouldn’t get cast. I kept seeing that I was a fit for other TV and movie rolls but not RunAmerica. Then, on August 15th I was accepted to run or cast for the role. I chose the area code around Greeley, CO, and waited for a reply.

I followed the site and waited for my call to run. Then on October 1st I got an email that stated October 3rd that stated a run time between 10 am and 3pm. It was getting close. The next day, the time and location had changed to between 3:30 pm and 8pm further up the Poudre Canyon. I tracked Marshall’s progress and later that afternoon, I went to the staging location.

There was suppose to be 15 runners at our location, but 3 showed up. The next person to show up was Vanessa (http://over40runner.com), she had driven from Dallas to run with Marshall. She had run with Marshall the day before in Steamboat Springs also. We talked for a while, since we had a nice window of time to fill. A little after 6PM the final person showed up, Heidi from Greeley. She had her 3 kids with her. Together we all waited and kept an open eye on the road.

Soon we had a Run America crew member stop by and said that Marshall was a few miles out. It was getting close to time. A little while longer the Super 8 crew car stopped and said that Marshall was about a half mile back. The crew member said that Marshall will be delighted that there are runners at this stage. He loves it when he is able to run with people along the way. It was starting to get dark, and we wondered if we would get good pictures with Marshall. Then he came around the corner, looking strong and holding a steady pace. He got to our point and the three of us took pictures and then we were off.

Run America:

The Group of 5 left Poudre River Road and headed down the Poudre Canyon on CO-14. It was Marshall, myself, Vanessa, Heidi, and her son. The pace was relaxed and we fell in step with Marshall. About a half mile down the road Heidi and her son wished us luck and turned back toward the car. Then it was the group of 3. We soon came to the Super 8 crew van.

The crew van was a great support vessel for Marshall. It would meet up with Marshall at every mile along the way. This would allow Marshall to gauge how far he had run. At each checkpoint Marshall would receive something to drink and something to eat. He said that he pretty much ate anything on the run and the crew would give him a variety of things. During our portion of the run, I saw him eat pudding a couple times, what I think was a crustable (PB&J), & I think some fruit.

He said that he consumes 10,000 calories each day, and that he only eats when he is running. When he stops for the night he gets a massage and usually falls asleep during the massage. I tell you, if I was averaging over 60 miles each day, I would be falling asleep during my run. Upon entering Colorado he had run over 1,000 miles and he was 1/3 of the way across America.

Our group of 3 continued on after the first mile break. Our pace was around a 12 minute pace, at times we were single file, and other times we ran side by side. There is little or no shoulder coming down Poudre Canyon, so as traffic was coming up the road we were forced into a single file line. I have run down the Poudre Canyon 4 times during the Colorado Marathon and Half Marathon, but it was a totally different experience running down in the night.

As we ran, we could hear the Poudre river, its relaxing sounds making the run so peaceful, so enjoyable. We could hear owls in the trees as we ran along and talked. We talked about a variety of things and shared stories. It was truly amazing to be able to have the chance to run with Marshall. We continued on with the walk breaks every mile as we met up with his support crew. At the 6 mile mark we met up with his traveling RV support crew and we took a short break as he met with some of his friends.

I talked with his daughter at this break and found out that Marshall changes out his shoes every 2 days. He cuts out the toe box on the shoe and she showed me a nice supply of Nike shoes. I snapped a picture of the RV and a picture of Marshall as we started back on our journey. Another runner joined up with us at that time as we continued down the Poudre Canyon.

Along the way, cars would stop on the road and say Hi to Marshall and then be on their way. I think that in our 10 mile trip down the canyon, we had 3 or 4 different vehicles stop and wish Marshall luck on his journey. At about 8 miles we were running along and I heard someone coming down the road behind me and low and behold one of Marshall’s friends came running up out of the darkness. Marshall was very surprised to see him and they started chatting. It was great to be part of this small group and running with them.

We mostly walked the next mile as we exited the canyon and down the road was the convenience store known as Ted’s Place. We met up with the support van with about ½ mile before the spot that Vanessa and I were going to stop. We jogged the last ½ mile to Ted’s Place, I was sad to stop. There was still so much of America to see. Marshall gave us both a hug as we departed and we wished him good luck and thanks for having us along on the journey. Then he was off in the darkness with two other runners.

Two of Marshall’s friends gave us a ride back up the canyon to our vehicles, which was very nice. They were actually dog sitting for Marshall while he was adventuring America. Soon we were back at our vehicles and the adventure was over. We had received 2 T-Shirts from the running crew and a bag of Sombra pain relieving gel.

It was an awesome experience, and I am so glad that I had the chance to do this. Marshall is such a great guy, it almost felt like we had been long time friends. His crew treated us like family and gave us the star treatment. I only wish that the 10 miles would have lasted longer. I heard from Vanessa and she actually met up with Marshall on Saturday and put in another 12 miles with 6 of the miles with Marshall and another ultra marathoner Glen Turner.

After this experience it almost makes me want to go and run an ultra….Almost.

Running America entry fee …. $3.95
Pre-run meal …. $2.50
Round trip gas money …. $7.00
Chance to run 10 miles through the Poudre Canyon with Marshall…. Priceless

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