20th Annual Penn State Track and Field/XC Reunion

And SAVE THE DATE! The Executive Committee meeting of the Officers of the Group convened and chose the dates for the 2022 Reunion and Coach Groves Golf Tournament. This will be the 20th anniversary of the formulation of this whole shebang, and you better SAVE THE DATE!! So set aside May 13th and 14th, 2022. (Each year will alternate between May and August) We will be going all out for this event and you won't want to miss it. Adult beverages, camaraderie with old and new friends, mediocre golf, AND LIVE MUSIC FROM PROFESSIONALS! Stay tuned...

Friday, March 26, 2021

Ron Moore's 2021 Barkley Marathons Report

 Ron Moore
My Barkley 2021 Race Report


I first applied for the 2016 Barkley after a top-10 finish at the 2015 Barkley Fall Classic - a 50K race in
Frozen Head State Park that I consider the fetal, not baby, version of the big Barkley. I was fortunate enough to get on the wait list on that first application. I faithfully applied each year as I bubbled up higher on the weight list. Finally, I got drawn into the main field for the 2020 race that was, of course, eventually cancelled due to COVID. (The state park system revoked all permits for planned group events, and the Barkley was a casualty.)

At last, I was able to toe the line at the 2021 Barkley - albeit it was different than previous years due to travel restrictions that kept many international entrants at home, as well as some COVID protocols that precluded some fun things like the pot-luck grazing the night before the race and the hanging of the license plates from allthe previous virgins.

The lead-up

My training over the winter did not go as intended. I had some nagging injuries off and on, as well as a
strained calf/achilles that kept me from running for a 3 week period in late January-mid February. I could still power hike hills and mountains, and I would work out on machines twice a day in the garage and at the Y, but my overall fitness was down without being able to do quick road runs. So be it.

As the race COVID protocols developed, it was deemed that all crew would need to have been already
vaccinated or had COVID and demonstrate antibody presence. That eliminated my wife Patty from being my crew. Other runners also needed eligible crew. I thought of a fellow Penn State track & XC alum who is a podiatrist and a big fan of the Barkley. Well, he and his podiatrist & Penn State alum wife both thought it was agreat idea...Laz also thought having a COVID protocol czar in camp was a good idea. So, Dave and Barb joined the fray to take temperatures and address other medical issues (like broken bones)!

As a bonus, one week before the race, my eyeglasses broke. Since I am, uh, a mature fellow, I need to
wear progessive lenses to fulfill my distance and reading vision needs. It turned out my older spare glasses weren’t good enough any longer for me to read a map or compass very well. Fortunately, I was able to get a quick turnaround on new glasses - I picked them up on my way to Frozen Head for the race. (Whew.)

The race

It had been obvious for days that the weather was going to be an issue for the race. Forecasts suggested
up to 2 inches of rain starting before midnight of race day through the early morning with > 30 mph winds above 3000 feet elevation. The course was going to be awfully slippery and the creeks would be running fast during the race. Since I live only an hour from the park, I drove up the day before to set up my tent while it was still dry, and then slept at home before returning the next day. As folks were arriving at the park the day before the race, it was already raining off and on. After unloading most of my gear into the tent, I checked in with Laz and Sandra (the race director and his wife) at the usual campsite 12 to pick up my race packet. I wore a special shirt that my daughter Elizabeth made for me after I learned I had made it into the 2020 race; the shirt had been sitting in my closet unworn for over a year.

(Photos by Dave Baskwill and Hiram Rogers)

The next task was to mark up my park map from the master map showing the checkpoint book locations and the prescribed route for a loop. Nothing terribly surprising there since I have seen race maps for a few years while I was crewing for my friend Hiram. I then drove to Wartburg to pick up a Subway sandwich for dinner and a couple other items at Darnell’s Market. After eating the sandwich and socializing a bit, it started to rain - not too hard, but enough to chase people inside - especially the runners who needed to rest.

The big question, as usual, was when would Laz blow the conch that signified one hour until the race
start? Would we be running in the worst of the storm? The race can begin between midnight and noon on race day, and we would find out only when we heard the conch. (Just a small mind game to add to the physical challenge.) Before I turned out my light at 9 pm, I reviewed the race map and directions, and wrote some notes in a small waterproof notebook. The rain and wind grew in intensity as I tried to fall asleep.

 I woke immediately when the sound of the conch resonated through the campground at 2:04 AM...
OK, not bad - I did get some sleep. Lights turn on inside tents around the campground. I hear Dave and
Barb stirring in the tent beside mine. Water is still hitting the tent, but apparently it’s mostly just dripping off the trees - the rain was rather light. I learned that the hour before the race begins goes by quickly. After lubricating that which I must (shout out to Greg Feild for those who know him and his quote from his first marathon) and then putting on my running attire, I walked up to site 12 to gather my official race timepiece - no other watch may be used (a rule in place for just a couple years). No smart watch, no GPS, no altimeter, nothing electronic can be carried by a runner - the only navigational items allowed are your map and a compass.

The previous race watches were cheap, Timex knock-offs that at least had a stopwatch and an alarm (to wake you up if you needed a nap somewhere on course). This edition of the Barkley watch was especially low tech:

Well, at least this pocket watch had a battery - no winding necessary. Folks chuckled about whether the
younger participants could even read an analog watch face. I found it to be particularly useless, but I stuffed it into my jacket pocket anyway in case I really needed to know the time - not the time of day though. Laz sets the race watches in advance to read midnight when the race begins, so that you can know the time since the start - important if you’ll be close to the cutoff for a loop.

As I continued to prepare back at my campsite, Hiram came up to me to say that Dave fell in the culvert
by the bath house, and he likely broke his right wrist. What the hell? Now, while I’m trying to get ready for the start? Anyway, Barb was with him, so I pressed on with preparation. Backpack - check. 3 liters of grape Gu Roctane in the bladder - check. Map - check. Compass & spare compass - check. Headlamps and extra batteries - check. Candy, sourdough pretzel nuggets, Chik-Fil-A sandwiches - check, check, check. Baggie for the book pages - check. Notes - check. A quick potty stop - check.
It was 53 degF and still raining lightly, so I was wearing a GoreTex jacket over a short sleeve Smartwool shirt. On the bottom, I was wearing my usual compression shorts and running shorts over top, plus compression calf sleeves, Smartwool socks, and my favorite trail shoes - Hoka One One Speedgoat 4. You know what, I will go back to grab the GoreTex pants just in case the weather turns bad again at elevation. (I stuffed them in the backpack, but I never needed them.) I went up to the famed yellow gate as Laz was reading the names of Barkers who had passed away. Soon afterward, he lit a cigarette - the signal that the race was on… 

As usual, the race begins with an easy 2 mile climb up a candy-ass trail (what Laz calls the public park
trails). Everyone’s shoes got wet early thanks to all the run-off from the rain. I took off my jacket just a few switchbacks up and tied it around my waist. Near the top of the climb, there was someone coming back down the trail. WTF? Apparently this person forgot their race bib, and he couldn’t remember his number! (You need to know your number so you can rip out that page from the books at the checkpoints.) Oof.

The fog was a problem, too, up high. Just like driving on a foggy night with your headlights on, there
was a lot of backscatter of the headlamp light from the fog. Having moisture on your glasses doesn’t help either, so that slowed me down somewhat on the way to the first book. There was a bigger group than I expected at Book 1 - at least a dozen people - I probably waited 1 ½ minutes to rip out my page and start a rather slippery, muddy descent. I lost track of how many times I went down on my butt. I hurt my left shoulder a bit on one of the falls. At a narrow slot we would pass through, there were a couple of people waiting as I  approached. I slipped and fell then butt-slid toward the notch, and knocked one of them over. (I don’t know
who you were, but I apologize. Gravity and a lack of friction are a bitch combination.)

After a knee-deep creek crossing, the next climb commenced. About halfway up, I came across a wild
boar piglet scurrying alone among the rocks. Such a cute little thing - white with brown markings.
Immediately, I wondered if the momma hog was nearby. The wee one wasn’t crying, and I didn’t hear any grunting from a sow, but I sped up a little anyway to put some distance between myself and the piglet.

At some point while running on another candy-ass trail alone in the fog with the wind howling through
the trees, I heard an odd sound just behind me. Did I just drop something? Sure enough, I turned around and saw my compass lying on the trail. It had just slipped off the lanyard - the design could be better since it has happened before under less important circumstances. (Remember that I carried a spare compass just in case…)

I nailed the first half of the next descent, so I was feeling pretty good about navigating alone so far.
However, that feeling didn’t last long. I have no idea what happened as that descent continued. I did
deliberately move a little left to avoid some large rocks, and I thought I got myself back on track afterward. At least I was going the direction I wanted, and I was seeing things I should be seeing - or so I thought in that foggy night. I kept descending, but then I started thinking I had gone too far - where is that next landmark? I looked at my compass and saw I was going due west. Huh? Did I really go so far that I started following the XXX? Can’t be. Shit. Time to reset, so I decided to climb back up to a candy-ass trail that I knew. I think I
burned close to an hour. (Maybe I should have looked at that infernal pocket watch.) Fortunately, I saw a group of headlamps coming toward me, so I waited. Well, well - it was my training partner Hiram and several others! I’m saved! I joined the group to descend the intended way, and then I left them to start the next climb quickly to try and make up the lost time. (Even a few days later, I cannot figure out what the hell I did on that fouled up descent.)

It was encouraging when I could switch off the headlamp as night turned into day early on the next
climb. For a while, it was (relatively) easy going, passing through areas of the park I know well. After pausing at a cairn to pay my respects to the fallen Barkers, I made a quick and rather muddy stop at the first water drop where I caught up with a runner from a group of 3 who had been together just a little earlier. We stuck together as we navigated through unfamiliar territory, but we were successful at locating the next book without any issues. In fact, we caught up with the other two runners from the previous group of 3 who could not find that book - we called out to them when we saw them struggling to lend them a hand. I took off again to climb, climb, climb. (I will say that I found the famed Leonard’s Butt Slide more difficult to climb rather than descend. How do folks do that 5 times?) I crossed paths with the group led by Hiram near the top of the Butt Slide.

The climb kept going up to just below a peak, but I ended up going to the top without seeing what I
expected to see. I was a little confused by the written directions describing the area as compared to what I saw.I backtracked and found that original group of 3 runners together, and this time they pointed me in the right direction. Thanks, I appreciated it!

What goes up must come down. I was alone again as I began a descent on a narrow ridge. Shortly, I
approached a rock wall that came to a point. I saw a notch in the wall that could be used to shimmy down to the next level; indeed, there were footprints showing that other runners had used that notch. I thought to myself “Be careful, it looks like there’s some mud at the edge…” - and suddenly I slid off the wall and was falling through the air. Immediately I was scared because I knew it was not going to be a soft landing. I saw the rock that was becoming my ultimate destination, but I wasn’t sure which part of my body was going to make contact first. Thankfully, it wasn’t my head. The sharp pain on my left side was the first clue, the increased pain when breathing was the other - I was certain I had broken a rib or two. Ouch. After collecting my wits and 4 determining there didn’t seem to be any more serious damage, I realized how fortunate I was on that landing. (Ididn’t see the gash on my left knee until later. A nice bruise developed on my left hip, too.)

So, now what? I was nearly as far away from camp as one can be on the course. There was no shortcut,
and I could still walk. Therefore, keep moving forward. I finished the descent, and navigated to the next book.The next climb was a good test - nice and steep. Yeah, the rib hurt, but it was tolerable. Easy navigation - right to the book. I tried running down the next descent, but that was a no-go. Each jarring step caused searing pain in the rib. So, I walked most of that easy descent. Damn. The next major climb was a little ratty, if you know what I mean. The first 25% or so was rather steep and slippery. That was very difficult for me being able to use only one arm to hold on to a hiking pole, cable, or shrub to help pull myself up. Whatever thoughts I had about finishing the first loop evaporated there. There was no way I wanted to descend that section and risk another (likely) fall. So, I finished the rest of that climb strong to reach the water stop at the fire tower. It was great to see some friends up there. (Thanks!) Surprisingly to me, I had finished all of the electrolyte in my 3 L backpack bladder, so I filled up with water. I only needed it for the 3.5 mile hike back to camp, because I
decided to drop out at the fire tower. 

Again - damn. It was an honor to have Dave the Bugler play Taps for me
when I arrived back to the yellow gate.

(Me about to crest Rat Jaw. Photo by a photographer named Kajsa whom I did not meet, but I wish I did. The photo was forwarded to me by a friend)

It was fantastic to finally toe the line at the Barkley. I had been waiting a while to get off the wait list
and make it into the field. The weather was crappy, but that’s always the wild card. My legs were feeling just fine, so I’m disappointed about the broken rib (yes, confirmed later by x-ray). My first Barkley was not a real test of my physical and mental endurance. I estimate I (only) went over 18 miles with 11,000 feet of elevation gain (7.5 miles after the rib-breaking fall) including the extra from my navigation mistake early on and the hike back to camp. Hopefully, with a persuasive application essay, Laz will let me back in the race sooner rather than later.


Four days later, I was able to pull a shirt over my head, and put on socks and shoes without assistance.
The rib bothers me a fair amount, and I can feel it every step I walk. (No running for 5 more weeks.) It lookslike I may have a bitchin’ scar on my knee...the gash was a little wider than I thought.


First and foremost - thank you to my wife Patty for putting up with this stupid stuff I like to do. When
Barkley training season rolls around, I disappear for long training runs more than usual. Love you!
Thanks to my training partner Hiram and his wife Jean. If I’m out running hill and mountain repeats,
it’s usually with Hiram. I also appreciate Hiram trying to pass along his wisdom about the Barkley Marathons.

We also have good discussions about geology and physics while we’re out in the wild.

Thanks to Dave and Barb for joining the Barkley family in an unexpected way this year. It was fun
having you visit, and I know you had a good time in camp. (At least when you weren’t breaking bones of your own, Dave.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

You Can't Have Trail Runs Without Protected Trails

 One of the reasons that the Barkley Marathons has endured despite only 15 people ever finishing in its 38 year history, is because its adherents view the Park it is held in as sacred land. The originators of the event know practically every square inch of the Frozen Head State Park. And I mean to the extent that they can argue minute details ad nauseum. Things you and I would never even care to notice.

Even Ron Moore, just a young 7-year Barkley acolyte, knows the park better than you know your own neighborhood. His Barkley friends spend a lot of time in the park, always adhering to the rules of the Tennessee Park system and Lazarus Lake's rules concerning the Barkley.

It is never a sure thing that the park will continue.  For years it has been desired by many people longing for the coal underneath. The Barkley Marathons have attracted much interest in the park.  In turn, more and more people have become active in trying to preserve not just Frozen Head, but all open park land.

The Barkley Family, to a man (counting all genders in the original sense!) are strict environmentalists. No one can enjoy their chosen hobby (or job in the case of some) without the beautiful acres they need to continue it.

Spouse The Better also came along to see wildflowers.  My mishap and Ron's too-early exit from the race, means she didn't see as many as she wanted to.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Ron Moore's Start And Finish Of The 2021 Barkley Marathons

 No one is allowed to view the runners during the race, except at the Tower at the top of the climb known as Rat Jaw.  Rat Jaw is a utility wire cut that takes electricity up over the mountain, and one of the worst climbs of the event.  Mercifully this year, the cut was freshly mowed, and thus the briars were better than most years.

Getting to the Tower would entail a two hour hike with 2,000 feet of climb for any of us mere mortals, and I was at a hospital when I would have had to been climbing.

Thus, I only have video of the start of the event and a photo of Ron hiking in after 12 hours in the woods.  I also have Ron being tapped out.

The 3:04 AM Start:

 Barkley Start

Ron Hiking Back into camp:

Taps is played for every runner not finishing the race:


Please remember, Ron's left 8th rib is broken at the finish. Then relax and realize that he is an animal and the rest of us are just mortal.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Some 2021 Barkley Marathons Facts

  1.  This year's entry fee (in addition to the $1.60 application fee) was a 12-pack of Moxie soda for the veterans of the race.  I share Lazarus Lake's love of Moxie, which I woukld describe as a mixture of root beer, cough syrup and motor oil.  For virgins, like Ron Moore, the entry fee was a license plate from where you were born.

  2. The race started at 3:04 AM after the conch was blown at 2:04 AM.  I waited until about 2:15 or so to fall into the culvert and break my left 8th rib and my right wrist.  I did get to see Ron just before the start and he looked ready for it.

  3. Only 4 chicken quarters were cooked by Laz himself and I think he was the only one to eat some.  The usual pot-luck dinner was canceled because of Covid.  The big cans of Bush's beans were on the fire for 2 days but only David Hughes (PSU 68) ate any that I saw.
  4. It rained nearly 2 inches the day before the start, but stopped right at the time of the start. I slept well from 8:30PM until the sound at the conch at 2:04AM. The sound of pouring rain on a somewhat rain-proof tent is quite memorable.
  5. Ron Moore had 3 liters of electrolyte solution in his backpack and consumed all of it by the time he returned to camp.  He ate 1 1/2 Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and various candies bringing his total calorie intake to near 2,000 during Loop 1.
  6. I texted Ron's wife Patty Moore after my accident AT 4:00AM!  Sorry Patty, I was not of sound mind.
  7. We got word of Ron's accident from someone on top of the climb known as Rat Jaw where a tower stands and there is the only water drop.  It is the only place where anyone can observe runners on the course, but are not allowed to help in any way.
  8. Lazarus Lake practiced blowing his conch many times on Wednesday and had much difficulty with it.  The conch predates his creation of the Barkley and was purchased in Fort Myers.

  9. Number of camp meals we cooked = 0  (Hardees, Taco Bell and Panera from outside the park)
  10. The longest time anyone perused the official map of the course and marked their own was by Courtney Dauwalter, past winner of the Western States 100.  Quickest was just a few minutes by several veterans.  Ron Moore didn't take long either, as he knows the whole park quite well.
  11. You are way more likely to encounter a wild boar than you are a bear in the Frozen Head State Park. People have started calling them cats leading to an internet meme, which is already triggering people.

  12. The Campground in the park is very nice.
  13. This year's event was held 2 weeks earlier than usual and started on Thursday instead of Saturday.  This was on purpose to keep the crowds from coming and off-setting the Covid Protocols that were put into place. But no one will ever know what comes next...
  14. The only watches allowed on the course by runners is supplied by Laz following the blowing of the conch. No GPS, no altimeters.  This year's version was an analog watch in a pocket-watch style.  I wonder if any of the young runners did not know how to read a clock with a face?

  15. The watches were set for last year's start, which never happened.  Laz needed to check each of them and reset those that were "off".  Only a few were off by more than a few seconds and the most was 25 seconds.  We had a long conversation about the Longitude Prize, the quest to provide accurate longitude navigation for ships in the 1600s and 1700s.  The prize was eventually won by a clock maker who made a watch accurate to within 6 seconds a month while onboard a ship.  All of Laz's watches would have won the Prize at a cost of $8 apiece.
  16. More than half of the runners failed to complete 1 of the 5 loops required for finishing. Only 2 runners completed the second loop in time to start the third loop.
  17. 3-time Finisher Jared Campbell and Luke Nelson each finished the third loop in time to qualify for a "Fun Run" but too late to go onto Loop 4.  No finishers this year.

  18. The only thing anyone at the main tent for the pain of my broken rib and wrist was Tennessee moonshine, which I declined. And no one dared to touch Laz's Moxie.
  19. Although Ron wore a ETSU ball cap for the run, he did wear his PSU Track Alum "Harry's Boys" wristband.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Elon Musk Has Nothing On Lazarus Lake, Who May Actually Be A Reptile

 As the first ever Covid Czar of the Barkley Marathons, I had the opportunity of many hours of conversations with the man in charge.  In return for the opportunity I screened everyone entering the camp and issued a Covid Passport of either green or red according to their Covid status. I must say that all the organizers were very good about protecting everyone from spreading the disease that has already separately claimed 2 lives in the Barkley community.

  • Green Passports were issued to those that had their 2nd inoculation more than 2 weeks prior to arrival.  Also those with proof of infection and positive Covid antibody tests were issued the green tags.  Those with Johnson and Johnson inoculation more than 2 weeks prior also joined the Kermit-the-frog squad. it is hard to believe someone from the Czech Republic had his paperwork but had to travel to several counties to get into Tennessee successfully. I'm not sure if he successfully finished one of the five loops?
  • Red Passports were issued to everyone else.  I was able to tell Laz that he had set the lowest temperature recorded at the event.  His 96.2 was delightful to him, as he said it made him the most reptilian person there!
  • Masks were worn by everyone in camp and special HEPA filters were running full time in the bathroom area.  It was also the most sparsely attended Barkley in many years, by design.  Laz started it 2 weeks earlier than usual, and he started it midweek for the first time ever.  He was very happy with the decrease in gawkers, despite realizing the double edged sword of exposure to the masses entails. There was a crew from HBO filming a special program for a future show. It should be great!

 I truly believe that Laz's efforts in creating this event on the edge of impossibility is far more important than anyone realizes. Elon Musk is praised as visionary, or denounced as "crazy" for his efforts to reach Mars.  Laz gets the same exposure as "crazy" and yet I know him to be more visionary than Elon could ever be. The importance of mankind testing their mental and physical limits beyond all possibility cannot be under-estimated.  Laz has given mankind's special people an opportunity to find out what their (and everyone else's) absolute limit is. Maybe no one else will ever know, but those of us "in-the-know" always will.  Although I have not been chosen to be one of those testing these absolute limits, I have been chosen to understand them.  And I will bet there are more of me out there.

My hat is off to Gary Cantrell whose transformation into Lazarus Lake betters mankind and may just save a beautiful part of the world from the worst of all of us.

Friday, March 19, 2021

The Barkley Wasn't Kind To Penn State

I am back home, just about at the same time 3-time Barkley finisher Jared Campbell is struggling to finish a Fun Run at the 2021 Barkley Marathons.

Our Official Physicist Ron Moore had taps played for him more than 12 hours after the 3:04am start. He had navigated the beginning of the race well and had gathered the first nine books. He was descending one of the mountains and went to take the "safe" route between rock pillars, when catastrophe struck. He slipped on the muddy rocks, and fell directly on one of them.

Remember, there is no help coming on the course. There are no aid stations, meat wagons, or medical help of any kind. Just hours of navigation through dense woods, often dense fog (and don't forget the feral hogs) until you can get help.

Ron knew immediately, he had broken a rib. Still, he moved forward along the course that is completely unmarked using a compass and a topographical map of the course you need to make yourself.

He needed to climb two mountain peaks and the descent between them to reach the Tower. This is the only place people are allowed to see the racers, although they cannot help in any way.

That's how Spouse the Better, I and Ron's wife Patty found out about his dilemma. I was already back at the park from the hospital when we found out.

Even as Ron was returning to the yellow gate starting/finishing line via the tower road, it was still several hours until we would see him.

He came in, looking really fine and more oblivious to his rib fracture than I was to the pain of my wrist fracture sustained 1/2 hour prior to the start!

Race Director Lazarus Lake greeted him at the gate to record his "quitting" of the race, not even taking the nine book pages Ron had collected before the calamity.

Taps was played, as it is for every non-finisher of the race. Eventually, all 37 starters would be tapped out this year. No finishers this year.

Penn State Alumni associated with this year's race:

  • David Hughes - 1968 Engineering alum was a starter for the 18th time. He was the Sweeper of the course and gathered one book, helped one runner who was hopelessly lost, and was tapped out second overall after 10 hours. 
  • Patty Moore - was recruited to help crew for husband Ron after loop one. A duty that  never came. And this was after I had texted her about my wrist fracture at 4:00am! (Sorry, I am pleading insanity because of the pain from my ribs and wrist) 
  • Spouse the Better - co-Covid Czar of the 2021 Barkley Marathons. Came to the event only because of the ineptitude of her husband, and to see wildflowers. Still enjoyed the whole debacle. 
  • Skwilli - Head Covid Czar of the 2021 Barkley Marathons. Became the first victim of the event when he stumbled into the culvert next to the bathroom at 2:30am. Result was a non-displaced radial fracture of my right wrist and a bruise of my left ribs, (now ruled an 8th rib fracture). Could have been much worse. Still had the time of my life and talked to Laz for hours and hours on just about everything. Still need 3 weeks off work... 
  • Ron Moore - The third known PSU affiliated starter, and the first PSU Track Alumni Golfer. Ron broke a rib and collected nine of the thirteen book pages. He made it back to the gate on his own two feet without any help. He was interviewed by HBO for an upcoming documentary. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The First Casualty Of The Barkley

The conch blew at 2:04 am. The all-powerful Laz  practiced all day yesterday, but his first attempts were weak. After two or three repeats, it finally reverberated nicely throughout the campground.

The camp came to life quickly, with the actual runners speaking very minimally. Time to prepare is minimal.

Barb and I donned our rain outfits (at least 1 inch of rain so far, maybe 2). We headed to the bathroom and headed back to see Ron and do anything he needed.

AND WHAM, I WAS DOWN. The flashlight beam showed the road, but missed the ditch!

I fell with a thud on my left side and right hand into the deep gully filled with all the runoff from the upper camp. Nothing hurt at first, but it sure did after a minute. My first statement was "I think I broke a rib." Ron's running partner and campsite mate came by and he and Barb grabbed a hand each to get me up out of the water. That's when I realized I had broken my wrist...

I managed to get upright and Barb managed to splint my wrist and at least cover my numerous cuts and scrapes on my hand.

I went to tell Laz about my predicament, and he chuckled exactly as I suspected he would (which is the proper response anyway).

The hour flew by and the runners gathered at the yellow gate just a few minutes before the 3:04am start of the "100" mile event.

I saw Ron with just 30 seconds to go and sincerely wished him well.

Laz lit his unfiltered Camel several seconds late, time they will never get back. Laz told me it was the runners' fault.

37 runners swarmed off into the rainy darkness, but just like that, the rain stopped. Maybe not in the rest of the park. Two runners were no-shows. One was an armed service member who was denied permission because of Covid, despite being fully vaccinated. The other was a last second- replacement whose son's team made it to a state final. Laz said both decisions were good ones. Saying yes was good, because she might have never made it in without the Covid circumstances. The second because her son will never be in a state final again. 

And still, one final runner didn't wake up in time and was taking their time. Laz was exasperated with that. 

I decided to wait until first light to seek xrays. We will make it back for Ron's first interloopal period. 

More to come, internet pending... 

All Set At The Barkley

Those in the know, know how ominous this endeavor is. Those that don't, please Google The Barkley Marathons and try to fathom the gruesome event in all its glory.

I'm not running, of course, but Ron Moore is. I am merely his help. Which means not much at all. And I am the Covid Czar for the event, ensuring no spread of the scourge that canceled last year's race. I am taking this duty very seriously.

Ron is ready and camp is set up for the start anytime from Midnight until Noon tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Barkley is a Beast

Had a wonderful walk with the Moores and their dogs last evening. It turns out that Barkley turned out to be similar to the Hound of the Baskervilles with personality.

It was also great to learn how similar our families are. Empty-nesters with kids not realizing how great we are!

I have to go now to set up camp and meet the director of all this mayhem...

More to come later today...

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

If It's Tuesday, That Must Mean Tennessee


Well, I'm off for the adventure of a lifetime.  Or more accurately, I am off to help with an adventure of a lifetime involving Covid, camping and hopefully a whole lot of running.  My Hybrid is loaded to the brim with survival gear and thousands of electronics which may or may not be used.  Even Spouse the Better is with me, sharing in my adventure with nary a complaint.

We are headed down I-81 as this post hits the blog with a thud.  Finally after a decade of Facebook Friendship, I will be meeting Ron Moore in person in the wilds of Tennessee.   This will finally make Ron the Official Physicist of our Group, which is a huge deal only to me.  I can't wait to finally disappoint Ron with the actual me...

This adventure of mine will be of enormous interest to everyone in our Group and everyone they know.  So please stay tuned for Daily Updates.  Let others know that Incredible Big Things are coming this week!


Friday, March 5, 2021

West Virginia's Mr. Football 1978 Was Better At Running!


Incredibly, the PSU distance corps in the late 70s and early 80s had two Mr. Footballs on the same team.  In addition to this post's subject, Ricky Garcia was the star quarterback at the same high school featured in the movie Remember The Titans!

Jeff Adkins is certainly an excellent choice among our Group to hold up as an ideal representative.  Intelligent, hard-working, accomplished, friendly and talented are just some of the attributes I admired as his teammate for 2 years. And here's another post of praise for him from a former roommate.

 Here's an interview with Jeff as forwarded by our Blog Laureate:

Jeff Adkins Interview – Woodrow Wilson HS Distance Standout


Jeff Adkins is one of the best distance runners ever in West Virginia. He currently holds the West Virginia High School 3200-meter state record with a time of 8:49.34. That record has stood for over 38 years. A very small number of West Virginia High School athletes have broken the 9:00 minute 2-mile barrier: Chris Fox of Martinsburg HS in 1977 (8:56.?), Jeff Adkins of Woodrow Wilson HS in 1979 (8:49.34), Steve Taylor of St. Marys HS in 1983 (8:58.17), and Jacob Burcham of Cabell Midland HS in 2012 (8:57.73).

Adkins will always be remembered for pulling off the tough double in football and cross country during his junior year.

Adkins graduated from class AAA Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley, West Virginia back in 1979. After graduating high school, he earned a full scholarship to run and study engineering at Penn State University under the direction of Harry Groves.

I personally think that Jeff Adkins is one of the most underrated high school distance runners to ever come out of West Virginia. I am extremely pleased to have him for an interview.


Coach McMillion: What’s your full name?

Jeff Adkins: My full name is Jeffrey Donald Adkins.


CM: Where were you born?

JA: I was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky.


CM: Where were you raised?

JA: My Dad was in the military, so we moved all over. Junior High I was at West Point, NY. In 9th and 10th grade I was in Fayetteville, NC, and we moved to Beckley my junior year of high school.


CM: Who were your parents?

JA: The late Donald Adkins from Charleston, WV and the late Jane Rayburn from Huntington, WV.

[Jeff Adkins dad, Lieutenant Colonel Adkins was born July 16, 1935 in Charleston, WV to the late Lonnie Guy Adkins and Eva Givens Adkins. Upon graduation from high school in Charleston WV, Adkins enrolled at Marshall University on an athletic scholarship, participating in football, wrestling, and track. His father, who was a World War II veteran, encouraged the military life, so Adkins joined the Army ROTC. Shortly after graduation from Marshall in May 1958, he was commissioned a second lieutenant. Adkins retired in June 1979 and took a position with Morehead High School as JROTC Commander, and he later became Athletic Director. He retired a second time after serving as principal at Holmes Middle School. Lieutenant Colonel Adkins flew 750 combat missions in Vietnam, earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and 30 Air Medals, one for valor, among other medals.]


CM: Do you have any siblings?

JA: I have two brothers (Mark & Michael) and three sisters (Kimberly, Christina, & Monica).


CM: What sports did you participate in as a youngster?

JA: I participated in Football, Swimming, Baseball, and Wrestling.


CM: Where did you attend junior high at? Did you participate in any sports?

JA: West Point, NY. There were no school teams, but we had intramural track, floor hockey, and speedball. We did have two somewhat informal track races against other schools. I remember running the 880-yard run under 2:11.1 to win a race in 8th grade. It was brutal. There were two other kids right there with me. I can’t believe there were three eighth graders running that fast. I also set the school record in the 600-yard run. Around 1:20 I think.

My Dad was a coach for the West Point Triathlon team, which was a club sport that included running, swimming and pistol shooting (it was a training team for the modern pentathlon). I was able to compete in that when I was in 8th grade. It included an 8K cross country run. That was fun. I could beat most of the cadets, because I was a competitive swimmer and a pretty good runner, and I learned to shoot well.

I participated in swimming, baseball, football, and wrestling outside of school.


CM: What years did you attend Woodrow Wilson High?

JA: I attended Woodrow Wilson my junior year (1977-78) and senior year (1978-1979).


CM: Who was your high school coaches (football, track, cross country)?

JA: Pete Culicerto was the head football and track coach, while Bob Moseley was the cross country and track distance coach.


CM: When did you first start running?

JA: We used to have to do the 600-yard run as part of the Presidential Physical Fitness test. I remember setting my elementary school record as a 5th grader (around 1:45).


CM: When did you first have success at running?

JA: I guess in Junior High; I was always the fastest distance runner in the school, then I won that local 880-yard track race.


CM: Which sport did you like most in high school? Why?

JA: I liked track & field the most. I was able to focus on one sport during winter and spring and really get ready to race. During cross country I was also playing football, so that was pretty hectic. I loved running cross country, but I was always worried that I was not in the best shape for distance running.

I liked football too. I knew that my best sport was track, so football was really for fun. I liked the football coaches and most of the guys on the team. I thought the coaches did a good job of preparing us for games without beating us up in practice. We were state champions my junior year (1977). If football wasn’t so much fun, I would have dropped it and focused on cross country.


CM: How many miles per a week did you run in high school?

JA: I’m guessing around 60 to 70 miles per week. I would run a few morning workouts in addition to afternoons. In retrospect, I was training myself way too hard; I tried to run hard every day because I didn’t know better. I believe the mileage was not real high because the summer after my senior year I got the training schedule from Penn State coach Harry Groves and he wanted me to work up to 100 miles per week during the summer, because he said that’s what I would be running when I got to college. I remember that was a big jump in mileage for me.


CM: What was your favorite track or cross-country workout?

JA: In college we would do “tee-to-green” workouts on the golf course, where there would be a sustained effort from tee-to-green, then a very short recovery as we jogged to the next tee. The effort was around 10K race pace, and the total distance was around five miles. I thought that was a good race prep workout. Early in the season we did “Julian Pike,” which was a 1.5-mile hill that we would do 3 or 4 times. That was brutal.


CM: What awards did you win in high school?

JA: I was an Adidas All-American in track based on the 8:48 for 3200m I ran at the Bellaire Relays in Mansfield, Ohio. I was the high-point winner at the State meet my senior year, winning the mile, 2-mile, and mile relay.


CM: Can you tell us about your 1977 & 1978 State Cross Country Championships?

JA: I remember 1977 was the year I outkicked John Case from Fairmont High. He went to Ohio State on scholarship.

1977 was interesting because I played a playoff football game the Friday night before the Saturday state meet. The football game was in Parkersburg and we won. I had to drive back to Beckley, then get up early and drive to the state cross country meet the next morning. My expectations were not very high, so when I moved into third place late in the race I thought that was a pretty good day. Then it seemed like the next two guys started coming back to me even though I wasn’t running any faster. I caught Case as we went over a creek with about 300 meters to go. I stayed on his shoulder until about 50 meters to go, then hammered it.

[Here's Jeff Adkins Friday/Saturday double from the fall of 1977: On Friday, November 4th, as a high school junior, he played defensive back on Woodrow Wilson's (Beckley, WV) football team that defeated Fairmont Senior 6-0 for the State Championship (all classes) title.

On Saturday November 5th, he came back to win the individual crown in XC.

Adkins left Beckley around 5:30 Saturday morning and was able to walk the cross-country course before his race.

According to coach Bob Mosley, for the first half mile Adkins was running in the fifth position behind West Fairmont’s John Case. At some point in the race Adkins had moved up to second and was running about 20-25 yards back with about a half-mile to go. He then closed less than five yards with 400 meters to go and within steps of Case with less than 100 yards to go.

Adkins outkicked Case by a few steps in the final stretch to take the individual title for all-classes. He covered the tough 3.1-mile Davis & Elkins course in 17 minutes and six seconds. John Case of West Fairmont was runner-up, followed by Neville Leonard of Martinsburg; Fred Riley of Keyser; Ed Fahrens of Elkins; Chuck Hess of Martinsburg; Jim Chivers of Brooke; Tom Austin of St. Albans; Harvey Goho of Princeton and Tom Oyurzah of Keyser.

In the team standings, West Fairmont defeated Martinsburg by the narrowest of margins, 100 to 101.]


JA: I don’t remember much about 1978, except that it was harder than I thought it was going to be. I had broken my wrist in a football game the week before, and ran the race in a cast. I played football at over 200 pounds, so I guess that was too much for cross country.

[Here's Jeff Adkins state meet recap from the fall of 1978: A broken wrist may have been a blessing in disguise for Beckley’s Jeff Adkins.

The Woodrow Wilson senior won his second consecutive state cross country title Saturday. He covered the three-and-a-half-mile course just outside of Wellsburg in 15:57 and less than a second ahead of Chis Keister of Huntington East. Adkins said the wrist didn’t hurt him at all in the race.

The golf course over which the race was run was classified as “one of the best courses I’ve run all year” said Adkins.

“It had rolling hills and it was long and grassy,” Adkins noted. “It had just a little mud around the lakes and it didn’t have any bare spots.”

Finishing behind Adkins and Keister in the race was Oak Glen’s Ed Burda. And it was from Burda that Adkins looked for stiff competition. But it never came.

Elkins took the team title with 97 points and was followed by Parkersburg (98), Keyser (113), Magnolia (127), St. Albans (137), Fairmont West (150), Beckley (168), Barboursville (197), Huntington East (201) and Greenbrier East.]


CM: Can you tell us about your junior track season?

JA: At the 1978 West Virginia High School State Track & Field Championship, West Fairmont’s John Case would break the record in the 1-Mile run with a time of 4:14.0, while I was runner-up in 4:25.8. I had a leg injury, but ran anyways. The meet was held at Marshall University’s track in Huntington.


CM: Can you tell us about your senior track season?

JA: At the 1979 West Virginia High School State Track & Field Championship, Beckley regained the AAA boys title, with six event victories accounting for 60 of their 71 points. Sprinter Randy Glenn won the 100 and 200 for the Flying Eagles, while I swept the mile and two-mile. My 9:11.3 in the two-mile established a new record. I won the mile over Oak Hill’s Mike Rominski, 4:20.47 to 4:22.30 respectively. Our team also won the Mile Relay in 3:24.67 over Wheeling Park. I tied my teammate Randy Glenn for high point honors with 21.5 points.

[Earlier in the spring, Adkins broke the 3200-meter state record with an 8:49.34 hand time clocking at the Bellaire (Ohio) Relays. He defeated junior John Zishka of Lancaster, Ohio. It was declared a dead heat, although Adkins was given the win.]


CM: On an Ohio running message board: Legend has it, that you didn’t care for John Zishka. That you almost fought after the 1979 USATF at Ohio State after the 1500-meter run. I heard Zishka elbowed you, while jockeying for position at the end of the race. Zishka won in 3:57, but was disqualified. You won in the same time, while Pittman was runner-up in 3:58. It was said, that the feud carried over to Bellaire in the 3200m.

I also heard after the 1600m at Bellaire, which Zishka placed 1st and you placed 2nd, that you shook the third-place finishers hand. John Zishka came towards you to shake your hand, but you supposedly snarled at John Zishka and walked away. Any truth to that story?

JA: That 1500m was indoors at the Knights of Columbus meet. I thought I won outright, but I could be wrong. I was boxed-in on the inside behind Zishka, then he started drifting out to Lane 2 because Pittman was going around him on the outside. I saw my opportunity and passed on the inside, and surprised Zishka. He threw his whole arm and fist into my chest as I’m passing him at the finish line. He ended up getting DQ’d. I looked at him after the race and said something like “What are you doing?” I don’t remember if he said anything because everyone started gathering around us. We did not shake hands.

I remember that meet because I doubled back in the 3000m and won, and broke Rudy Chapa’s meet record (8:20-something). I was awarded the most outstanding performer of the meet for winning the 1500 and 3000, and setting the record.

I don’t remember talking to Zishka at Bellaire, but I remember talking to Ricky Pitman in the stands. He was having Achilles problems and was not 100%. I outkicked Zishka in the 3200m coming from way back in the last 150m. Then Zishka came back and killed me in the 1600, running 4:09. I think I was 4:17. I was dead. I had a meet the night before in Charleston (I think it was the Gazette Relays) where I ran a 1600 and a 4x800 relay. I wanted to run easy in the 1600, but Mike Kominsky of Oak Hill was in the race and I had to blast the last 200 to get the win. I don’t remember the time.

I got along with Zishka after that – he came to Penn State on a recruiting trip and we laughed about the incident. He ended up coming to Penn State, but transferred to Oregon after his freshman year. I don’t believe he ever ran faster than he did as a freshman at Penn State.


CM: What was your high school PR’s?

JA: I ran 8:48 for 3200-meters, around 8:24 for 3000-meters, 4:15 for the mile, and 1:55 for 880 yds. I never ran a fresh mile or half mile in a big outdoor race.


CM: Did you participate in Kinney/Foot Locker or NXN cross country championships?

JA: There was no NXN then; I did run Foot Locker Regionals in Raleigh my senior year. I drove by myself from Beckley to Raleigh the day of the race, got my number an hour and a half before the race (they weren’t going to give it to me because they said I was late, but I convinced them to give it to me). I ran and was around 15th. I remember thinking 1) these guys are good, and 2) I’m not ready for this race.


CM: What year did you get inducted into Woodrow Wilson’s Track Hall of Fame?

JA: About four years ago.


CM: Where did you attend college? And why did you choose that college?

JA: I went to Penn State. They had the best combination of engineering and distance running, and they offered full scholarship. We were 3rd at NCAA XC Champs my freshman and sophomore years (behind Oregon and UTEP back when Alberto Salazar, Rudy Chapa, and Bill McChesney were at Oregon and UTEP had Sulieman Nyambui, Matuse Motswaratu, and others)


CM: What years did you attend college?

JA: I attended college at PSU from 1979 to 1983.


CM:Who was your college coach?

JA: Harry Groves - a real character and an icon of distance coaching.


CM: List of accomplishments while in college at Penn State University?

JA: Won Penn Relays 5000m in 1982 (13:55). Made 5000m finals at NCAA Champs in 1982 (at BYU, so times were slow due to altitude).


[In June of 1982, named the captain of Penn State’s cross-country squad.


Jeff Adkins while at PSU (XC):

• Freshman Year – 1979 NCAA Men’s Final on Monday, November 19th at Bethlehem, PA

The Nittany Lions finished 3rd as a team with 186 points, while Adkins finished 65th in the 10K with a time of 30:37.00.

• Sophomore Year – 1980 NCAA Men’s Final on Monday, November 24th at Wichita, Kansas

The Nittany Lions finished 3rd as a team with 153 points, while Adkins finished 144th in the 10K with a time of 31:25.50.

• Junior Year – 1981 NCAA Men’s Final on Monday, November 23rd at Wichita, Kansas

The Nittany Lions finished 14th as a team with 379 points, while Adkins finished 175th in the 10K with a time of 32:37.90.

• Senior Year – 1982 NCAA Men’s Final on Monday, November 22nd at Bloomington, Indiana

Adkins finished 134th in the 10K with a time of 32:42.70.]


CM: Tell me about some of your Master’s races.

JA: I started running Masters races in 2006. I won the 5K and 10K that year at the USATF Masters track nationals in Charlotte, NC.

There is a Northern California Pacific Association of USA Track and Field (PAUSATF) that puts on very competitive masters races, and I won the short road series (1 mile up to 10K) and the cross-country series a couple of times.

I’m doing more coaching than racing now; I’ve got a patella problem that acts-up when I run fast, so it is all easy running now.

[Adkins signed up to compete in the 2006 National Masters Track & Field Championships held, that year, in Charlotte, NC. Over four days he raced three times placing 1st in the 5K (16:26:32), 1st in the 10K (34:25:59) and 5th in the 1500M (4:27:58). The Charlotte Fire Department shut down the meet one day that weekend because temps reached nearly 100 degrees with 95% humidity.

Over the past couple of years, he's continued to compete, winning the Masters division of the Pacific Association of USA Track and Field Cross Country Series, placing 2nd in the 2008 National Masters Track & Field 10K held in Spokane, WA, and setting PR's (masters) in the mile (4:35), the 5K (15:54), and the 10K (33:01).]


CM: Who did you marry?

JA: I married Tracy Sullivan, who I first met in Fayetteville in 9th grade.


CM: Do you have any kids?

JA: Yes, I have two kids, Ryan and Shannon. Ryan was on the Triathlon Club team at UC Berkeley and Shannon went to Pepperdine on a swimming scholarship.


CM: Where do you currently live?

JA: I live in Granite Bay, California.


CM: What do you do now?

JA: I do legal and engineering consulting for a large environmental consulting firm.


CM: Who would you contribute your success to?

JA: I suppose it was mainly just being introduced to various athletic activities at a young age and making that a priority wherever we lived. My Dad was a football player, wrestler, and track sprinter in college (Marshall University), so he was always very interested in having us participate in sports. He never coached me, but he was always a positive influence and someone I wanted to emulate in terms of making exercise and sports a lifelong experience.


CM: Thank you for your time Jeff!


Interview by Coach Mike McMillion (mgmcmillion@aol.com)


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

A Lion In Winter

Lost amid the 800U shenanigans last weekend was Tim McGowan's 2021 Track debut in Austin, Texas. His 28:58 10K placed 5th in the meet and let him get together with blog favorites Isaiah Harris and Billy "Toad" Cvecko. Thought I would give him a shout-out for the fine opening effort! 

And let's not forget about THE TOAD himself, with a 15:19  5K hop!  Not bad for a 800M amphibian!!!  I thought he was there just as a celebrity.

Monday, March 1, 2021

It Was A Banner Weekend For 800U


Wow.  There was finally a lot going on.  There was a School Record in the Pole Vault and a second place finish at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.  Luke Knipe scaled the heights to 17' 4.5"!!!  Sincere Rhea leaned better than all the rest to snag the 60HH Championship.  Whoa.

There were a few other finishes for the scaled-down teams sent to Geneva, Ohio.  But mostly, the 800U dominance continued for the Men and Women.

  • Dom Perretta overcame injuries, Covid, surgeries and his recent 300-game bowling incident to return to the top of the Podium in the 800M .  He did it in a fashion favored by Yevgeni Arzhanov in the 1972 Olympic Finals.  Only this time Yevgeni holds on!  I have been thinking that this would happen each of the last 100 times I have watched that race, but here it is many years later with one of our own striking gold.  (12 of the last 14, and 5 in-a-row B1G)
  • The dual Victorias medaled in the Womens 800M.  Not to be outdone by Dom, Victoria Vanriele channeled Dave Wottle instead and caught everyone at the tape.  Victoria Tachinski held on for 3rd.(5 in-a-row B1G titles)




Still, the Alumni provided even more 800U goodness.

  • Instead of racing, Danae Rivers danced for the duration in the Dance Marathon to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund.
  • Isaiah Harris bounced back from his disappointing opening season race to win the 800 in Autin, Texas  with a 1:46 and change.  He says he is confident on 1:43 when the time comes at the Olympic Trials...

Tim McGowan, Billy Cvecko and Isaiah Harris in Texas.


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