Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Buddy Bones River Marathon

Friday was a very enjoyable and exciting day. I left the house on an adventure run and wound up running a whole official marathon. Even more surprising was I won! It was the dangdest thing. Let me tell you about it.
A prison off in the distance

Me 'n my new friend, Buddy Bones, hatched a plot to do an adventure run Friday, November 21. We left the house at 9:47 a.m., and I was loaded down with two packs, 68 ounces of Gatorade, four gels, and a few other edibles. Buddy doesn't eat or drink so he was travelling light. We headed for the Greenwood, Mississippi Industrial Park and when we got out there, the traffic fell off and although there were buildings in sight, on our right the land opened up into vast tracks of farmland. Way off in the distance I could see the tree line that marked the river where we dreamed we might be running in an hour or two.

The plan was loose but we thought we would run out 49 and get on the creek levee and run it to the river levee. We got on the old Highway 49, and when it came time to turn to go out to the new highway, we decided to stay on the old road and go straight to the river levee. That would cut out the highway, which I have never been fond of running, and the creek levee, which looked like it might be a little rough on top.

We got to the Yazoo River levee at 5.45 miles, and on top the surface was flat, lightly gravelled and soft. Perfect. I had never been here and that made it all the more gooder. We started shuffling north, back towards town, but the river makes a huge loop west, and I didn't know how far it would be to get back to town. in a mile or two we made it to the pumping station. I had been here, way back in 1971 when I started hanging out with the Pine Street Gang. At the station, I sat down and taped up the fourth toe on my left foot. It was still a bit sore from last Thursday's run and I knew if I did not attend to it early, it would get bad. After the kinesio tape job, I felt it no more.
Just onto River Road Extended.

Running the levee was nice. Every now and then we shuffled past a patch of woods that made me think of my .22 rifle. Sometimes we could see the river. Sometimes not. Eventually, about ten miles in, we made to to an giant old house at a place where two gravel roads met. I thought about getting off on the roads but decided to stay on the levee. Bad choice. The road on top of the levee disappeared and in its place was tall grass, uneven dirt. and armadillo holes every foot or two. It was a wonderful place to twist an ankle or even break a leg. Luckily after only a hundred meters or so, we came upon the C & G Railroad line which gave us a chance to follow the tracks back to the gravel road.

From the road, we could see the end of River Road Extended way off in the distance. Between us and it were wide open harvested cotton fields and clear air. I felt free. I didn't ask Buddy how he felt. I guess I like him a lot because we don't need to talk to stay friends.

Eventually we made it there and were headed back into town. River Road Extended is a very pretty street lined one house deep with giant old mansions on its south side with the Yazoo River on its north. Decades old oak trees provide and peaceful shade and a family cemetery in one yard reminded me of the vast local history that most of us never know. The road led us to the Yazoo River Bridge on Highway 82 which we crossed at thirteen miles into our journey and then turned left on the levee road of West Claiborne Extended. We were still running the levee only we were on the other sided of the river now headed west instead of east.

The levee road on the Tallahatchie.
After a couple of miles, West Claiborne Extended ends and one has to get on Highway 82 or turn on the frontage road. We crossed the highway and got on another levee road but this one was on the Tallahatchie River not the Yazoo. At this point we took a long walk, a bit over a mile, to take in some calories and fluids. This levee road ends in a field which we had to negotiate through mud and tractor tracks until we made it to  the levee road off Riverside Drive where we re-entered Greenwood this time on the north side of town. We shuffled Riverside Drive to Grand Blvd and then crossed the Tallahatchie Bridge. After crossing the bridge we ran out Wade Road  and then turned north onto a turnrow which we followed back to Money Road. At Money Road we were nearing nineteen miles so we headed north to get some more distance.

We turned back towards town when we were far enough from home to finish with about twenty-three miles, but when we got to the foot of the bridge, Buddy said, "Let's run out here a bit," as he turned left onto the gravel road. When we did get back into town, we were only one block south of Bankston School when Buddy spoke up again. "Let's run this way," he said turning off the boulevard.

"You know we are doing a full marathon," he added.

At the trail head and back on the river.
"I was beginning to suspect that," I answered.

"Not only are we running a full marathon, we are doing an official one."

We shuffled along in silence for a while. Then I said, "An official marathon has to have a name."

A minute or two later he said, "The Buddy Bones Marathon. Or the Buddy Bones Yazoo River Levee Marathon. Or the Buddy Bones Yazoo and Tallahatchie Self-supported Levee Marathon."

We were on Lidell Street now and our distance was approaching twenty-four miles. Then Buddy added, "You know you are in the lead?"

"Really?"

"Yes."

"How many are back there?" I said referring to the runners behind us.

"Tens," he answered.

I gave him a look.

"Dozens."

I gave him another look.

"At least a hundred."

That made me happy. In fact, I almost cried.

When we got to East Monroe, I knew we were seven tenths of a mile from home so we kept heading south, and I did the math in my head as we got further and farther from home. We made to to the Yazoo River levee, got on top, and then I saw it, the entrance to the Yazoo River Trail. It ain't much, only about a half a mile, but it is a nice trail, and I love to run it so we did. I stopped to pee when we were just inside the trail. The air was cool and the tree leaves fell in the autumn breeze. I felt great. I was running a marathon and about to win it. Then I remembered. "How close are they?" I asked Buddy.

"They stopped to pee too," he told me.

Then we started back shuffling. My legs were very tired but I was very happy. We made twenty-five miles while still in the woods. I knew we were a mile from home at the bridge so we were going to be a little long. "What about that?" I asked Buddy.

"Don't worry. We will stop at 26.2 and take a picture of your watch. From there we just walk home."

The time may have been slow, but it was
good enough for first place.
So we did. We took the picture at 26.22 and then walked the .17 mile to the house. When I stooped to pick the newspaper up out of the driveway, I audibly grunted. I was stiff, so stiff it was like I was bones or something. Then I went inside, drank a recovery shake, and talked to the cats.