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Run across MN

Starting at Devil’s Gulch, SD where Jesse James (according to lore) evaded capture by jumping the gulch (the perfect “jumping off” point)

Link up the 1st MN climbing area Blue Mound State Park

Run more than 250 miles through southern MN connecting cities aiming for the following trajectory:

MN Run – The start

7/29 – my wife accompanied me to devils gulch and sent me on my way. In addition to the finicky fiddling with my pack and gear to find the right arrangement, I made the rookie mistake of looping the food bag through the hydration bladder slide. In the middle of the run i felt a wave of water drenching my back. I imagined my bladder burst (my water broke?!) and i would have to do the journey without it. Luckily just the slide was yanked off leaving me with half the water for the day. Fortunately it was a climbing day with plenty of opportunity to refill. I found my rhythm and kept my planned 4 mile per hour pace with my newly developed strategic 13 method. I’m a big fan of it so far. I made the climbing meet up in time and relaxed on a bench since i arrived 30:00 early.

Kari treated me with some breakfast cinnamon roll leftovers and some amazing PB energy bites. I enjoyed a 5.7 crack with Eric, enjoyed some sections of a couple 11 variations, and then capped it off with a burger with Eric.

The last 4 miles into town were smooth and therapeutic. The front desk gal at the econolodge had her daughter working with her and i enjoyed some great philosophical discussion with them. A quick swim in the pool, shower, laundry, planning, and now i think my body wants a second dinner so why deny it?

7/30 – Luverne to Worthington MN Run

I was right on time for my lunch spot…only to find it was closed this week. Thanks paper note stuck to the door. It would have been an extra mile in the wrong direction to get back to a gas station so I just continued on dejectedly. I had some fortunate timing crossing paths with a church holding mass which i joined and then refilled water in the bathroom sink. When i rolled into Worthington, i was surprised by a small bar not listed in maps that had a wonderful bar tender who made me a pizza.

I went back for dinner and she had went to the store to buy ingredients for a Cobb salad in hopes I’d stop back by. I had some great conversation with her and her 2 friends who thought i was 18. Other highlights of the day were i outran a storm chasing me down and my hydration bladder sprung a leak. The mishap in day 1 must’ve been cosmic foreshadowing.

MN Run 7/31 – Worthington to Windom

Today was a wonderful reminder that when everything seems to be going awry, life will regress to the mean. I caught a beautiful morning sky heading out.

What I thought would be just a gas station in Heron Lake ended up having a diner (PJs) with some wonderfully helpful and kind people who fed me great food and filled my water bottles for me.

And the bulk of the day was full of friendly waves from highway drivers and some friendly honks from the truckers.

MN Run 8/1 – Windom to St James

Today was all about timing. I arrived at 6:32 to 6:30 breakfast and some team of workers staying there had cleaned out everything but a rice crispy treat. Fortunately McDonald’s was close by. I arrived in Mountain Lake too early for my meal plans but Butterfield wouldn’t have anything open until 4. I didn’t want to go all the way to St James on my pack food so i went and hung out on a collapsing picnic table outside of the Den. They ended up letting me in a few minutes early and we had some great conversation comparing the physical toll of running all day vs their running around prepping for a city wide event they are hosting tonight.

The den crew planning for the event

I got to st James at 3:30 but came in north of my hotel so i caught an early dinner and got to run a bit after. The server said she’s never seen anyone eat 3 pieces of pie before. Well, she’s probably never seen anyone running this much try and stay fueled up!

Entertaining gentlemen who exchanged pie opinions with me

MN Run – 8/2 – St James to Mankato

A little bit longer day today. Caught myself waving at a street sign- I get my brain snap back to reality at that point, but i am still not sure where it was prior. I got a nice surprise when one of my climbing friends and her son showed up to join me and treat me to lunch. It was a great boost on a hot and tough day. The people at the table next to us connected the dots and asked if I was the Hwy 60 runner.

Several people have seen me enough to at least wonder why and who. Later in the day I enjoyed a tour of Minneopa state park and the trail – a welcomed break from the Highway shoulder.

I was not a fan of the Mankato hill, but appreciated it for its own merits. I finished off the day with some great conversation with the folks at 507 Poke and a soak in the hot tub!

MN Run 8/3 – Mankato to Faribault

so humid today. I was a river of sweat and could not keep the sun screen attached to me.

I saw some beautiful trails and state parks in this stretch.

Saw some fun wildlife. Well…once living…

Prettiest area yet. I also enjoyed a quick pit stop at Scoops, lunch at el molino, and great conversation and food at 1st of Thai.

The couple running it have a regular customer who runs ultras so they had lots of questions and stories to share.

8/4 – Faribault to Red Wing – The Big Day

Every challenge needs “that day.” Today was that day. The day of length (52 miles). It has the difficult navigation. The path lacks adequate water stops. It brings a hot and humid weather to the table.

It gets new obstacles thrown into the mix (bowels, trying to coordinate with a reporter – who was incredibly nice & encouraging and even ran along with me for a bit, sunscreen breaking down in the heat), and it has dark mental spots (not to mention thick mental fog) combining with cumulative physical pain. Also, it had the best views, incredible company, delicious food, and fun chance encounters.

The highlight reel included a view on the trail that i could never capture with a camera.

  • amazing relief when we hit a tree canopied trail
  • nostalgic dirt road
  • conversations that would be hard to find elsewhere
  • incredible sense of accomplishment with hitting the pacing goal each day.
  • Oh yeah, there was also the view of the bluff signifying the end of the long runs.

8/5 – The Finish

Climb at Barn Bluff and cross into Wisconsin finishing at Freedom Island. Thus tying Jesse James back in at his carousing spot. The name is a contemplative element of whether my freedom is there ending or beginning.

It was an ambivalent finish. I didn’t want to run another long day. It is hard to let the focus and experiences to end. I think that is the point is that they don’t have to. It was so gratifying to spend time with friends on the wall. I was excited about my ability to still move well enough to climb after all of these miles. It was inspiring to see the individuals that ran the last mile alongside me to the finish. Hip pain and cramps kept me awake most of the night. At one point on my way back from the bathroom I just laid down on the floor…naked because my clothes were drying. When I heard the beeping from the door, I didn’t have enough time to get up and get out of sight from the airbnb host’s (husband?) coming in. Luckily they were not too offended by my taking their invitation to make myself fell at home too literally. Hopefully he did not have nightmares from the view. The hike up to the bluff was relaxing.

I was amazed at the quantity of food that Erin brought. Climbing was not without incident. Erin took a decent lead fall trying to destroy a shelf with her heel. I had a piece of the rock I was using as a foothold break off on a lie back which resulted in me donating a good section of my skin to the wall.

As a great culminating achievement for the day, Eva sent their project they’d been working on for months.

Going home

It was odd to sit down in a car. It was strange to move at such a fast pace. I listened to stories from family of what had transpired and then my body realized it didn’t need to perform anymore and I fell fast asleep.

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Republican Eagle