After 10 states, thousands of miles, and one half-marathon, I’m back on my couch, and I have no plans to move for at least the next day and a half. Dad and I wrapped up our six half marathon in our 12 in 12 in 12 quest this past weekend, and (spoiler alert) it was the best one yet.
Dad got to my house around noon on Thursday, and we headed east. We spent most of the day in the car with a quick pit stop in Memphis for the best BBQ on the planet, and pitched the tent in Natchez State Park about eighty miles from Nashville.
For whatever reason, I didn’t sleep so great which means I was wide awake for us to get on the road around seven the next morning. We had about seven hours to our final destination of Belfry, Kentucky, and arrived there for packet pickup about 4:30.
Belfry, Kentucky is in the heart of the Hatfield and McCoy country, and the entire race was played on that theme. It was actually the reason why I picked it-you guys know I’m a sucker for history! Belfry, Kentucky and Williamson, West Virginia are basically the same town, and the race organizers utilized both towns to provide resources to the runners. One such resource was opening up the two fire departments for runners to crash in since there aren’t many hotels in the area.
Dad and I thought this would be a neat part of the trip, and we were assigned the Williamson Fire Station along with about seventy other runners. It worked out well except for someone deciding 4:45 was a great time to turn on the lights on race morning!
We caught a shuttle to the starting line, did a little stretching, and joked that we might have a good shot to place in this race. We were floored at how few half-marathon bibs we saw. This race series offered a double half-marathon as well as a full, and most everyone we saw was running one of those.
The race started promptly at seven, and we took off. We cruised through the first five or six miles. I’ve really started to noticed a difference in the effort in takes me run those distances. Those first miles have started to fly by, and I’m feeling stronger every race.
We knew there was a beast of a hill to look forward to at mile six. The full name of this half was the Hatfield and McCoy Blackberry Mountain Half Marathon, and Blackberry Mountain awaited us halfway through the course. It was just about a mile long, and very, very steep. Dad and I just concentrated on getting up it however we could. We knew we’d be greeted by a long downhill on the backside.
We flew down the hill. I didn’t check, but mile 7 to 8 must have been a 7:30 minute pace! The rest of the race was fairly flat, and went pretty smoothly. Right around the time we got to mile 9, the sun rose over the mountains in full force and it got super humid. I’m just grateful that we made it to mile 9 before it happened.
This was a point to point course, and around mile 12.5 we crossed the bridge into West Virginia. We’re counting the race as a Kentucky course since most of it was done there, but running in two different states was a special way to mark the halfway point!
We crossed the finish line at 2:11:17. Certainly not my fastest time, but considering the beast of the hill and the three times we stopped to read some of the historical markers, I’m happy with it. It was even good enough to get both of us 2nd place in our age groups!
I really loved this race. It was fairly small (only about 900 runners), but so well organized and the course was beautiful. The people were friendly, and I loved the historical element to it. The course actually goes by several of the famous spots in the Hatfield and McCoy feud which made my little nerd heart happy.
Dad and I headed out of Kentucky after the race headed south. We decided since we were on the right coast and we had the time, we would check out a few states we’d never been to before. My family is obsessed with visiting all 50 states, and my total is now up to 26!
Our little adventure took us all the way to Charleston, South Carolina. We grabbed dinner there Saturday, spent the night, and did just a little walking around on Sunday morning. It was a really neat city, and I want to go back to do a proper vacation. Although it will have to be January-it was so hot!
From there, we headed back west, arriving mid-day Monday. It was a fast, long trip, and I’m exhausted but it was really a lot of fun! And, now, #6 is in the books! Next up-Colorado followed by our backpacking trip! I kind of like summer!
How many states have you visited?