Saturday, September 17, 2011

Alabama Relief Run

Well, after a bit of a hiatus from posting here, I've finally got something worth posting... I think...

Anyone that's followed the musings of this blog no doubt realizes that I've got something of a propensity for attempting slightly unconventional running stunts (among others), and boy, do I have a doozy...

However, as with any event worth noting, there is a bit of background that should be understood.  The best background to know is that I really wanted to run Vol State this year.

For various reasons, both running related, and deeply personal, Vol State was an event toward which I felt a very strong calling this year.  For those unfamiliar with the affair that is The Last Annual Vol State Road Race, it is a 500k run, mostly across Tennessee, but which briefly crosses at least five states (MO, KY, TN, AL, and GA).  It starts with a ferry ride across the MS River, and ends somewhat unassumingly at Castle Rock, GA.  No entry fee.  No aid stations.  No excuses.  Either you finish, or you quit.  A truly epic undertaking (at least in my mind), I wanted to take a stab at it.

At first, I thought I would have a training course for work in the week prior to the start, which, although it would have put me at roughly a 1.5 day late start, I considered an acceptable obstacle.  Rather than try to win the race, I would simply see how many people I could pass and still stay under the time limit (and, truth be told, I would probably keep up with my personal running time to compare with the winning time...).  This seemed like a grand plan, with my puddy from Starkvegas ready to come crew for me.

Then another work trip came up that took up the entire week of Vol State, which effectively killed the idea.  Dang.

However, by the time of the final nixing of my Vol State attempt, something of a calamity had befallen the state of Alabama.  On April 27, a series of storms ripped through the state, devastating quite a few towns, killing over 200 people, and causing untold damage.  On April 27, I was in Kentucky, watching helplessly, hoping that my family and friends were alright, and being told NOT to immediately come home to help; I would be turned away by the National Guard and other authorities if I tried.  For those that know me, you know that this goes against every instinct in my body.

But in the frustration came an idea.   I couldn't run across Tennessee, but I could run across Alabama.  And now I had a cause I could rally around and hopefully get others to support along with me.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention that running across Alabama is an idea I gleaned from an event several years ago, the Run Across Alabama for Elliott (see ).  But in the Run Across AL, the route went east-to-west; to my knowledge, no one had ever attempted a north-south or south-north crossing.

Slowly the idea took shape:  I would run the length of Alabama, from the Gulf Coast to the Alabama-Tennessee state line as a tornado relief effort.  Being that the run wasn't necessarily designed to be particularly fast,  a little distance was added in to allow me to run along a couple of the tornado paths, one in Tuscaloosa, which was perhaps the highest-profile city hit, and one that tracked along northern part of the state, through Hackleburg, Phil Campbell, Moulton, Athens, Harvest, and other towns.

After a few tweaks and additions, the total distance is currently set at 454 miles, over 100 miles farther than Vol State.  Apparently I would not be deprived of the epic run...

Now getting the word out about the run is perhaps my biggest obstacle.  Self-publicity is, quite frankly, not my forte'.   I figured I would need to give it a name for reference purposes, and after a few consultations with a group of email contacts, I decided on a name that described the effort simply, and appealed to my love of both acronyms and pirates:  the Alabama Relief Run or ARR!

I'm working with quite a few folks I know around here to spread the word, with Helms IT Services graciously putting together a website for me, and plenty of help from Eric Charette on the little widgets all over, and I even created a Facebook page and Twitter feed for the event (again, those that know me will see the humor in this...).  Hopefully this will be a big enough event to cause a real difference to those affected by the storms.  I know it will be a huge event in my life, and now I'm in too deep to bail out, so full steam ahead...

I'll try to keep this blog updated with the latest developments, but should anyone want to learn about the run, all kinds of good info, including a route map and daily mileage goals can be found at the website, which is at: