I woke up this morning feeling very fresh. I slept well, the legs felt good despite the aimless wandering the day before, and the weather was perfect. As usual, I carbed up with a bowl of cereal and a banana. Against the norm, I had a cup of coffee, which I rarely do before a run.
I was out the door at 8am. The route for today was simple; run along the railroad service road, and turn at the first left, then ride that into Milford eventually.
As the sun rose, I turned on my tunes and played Montana by Tycho, an artist I describe as making “sunrise music”- an electronic ambient sound. It was a perfect fit for the morning.
I passed a Jeep parked on a side road, with nobody in it, and nobody in sight. The windows were down as well. I thought it was a bit odd to see, but didn’t think much more of it. Around mile 5, the RVs had caught up to me. TK got out and asked if I “talked to them”. I asked who. He said the people on the horses by the Jeep. That explained why I didn’t see them; they had to have gone off on their horses over the hill the RR tracks were on. I told him no. He notified me that they were really nice and said to tell me to “watch out for the alfalfa fields ahead. The wild mustangs like them, and are a bit of a problem around here.”
WILD HORSES?! I thought that would be sweet! I joked that if one decided to run me over, I would be happy with it and brag for the rest of my life about it. I never saw the alfalfa fields (not that I know what it even looks like) nor any horses. However, an abnormal looking rock was in the road ahead of me. When it moved, I knew it wasn’t a rock, and quickly reversed and strafed in the opposite direction. It was a rattlesnake, about 2 feet long. It looked at me and licked the air a couple times. I was amazed at the sight of seeing one in the wild for the first time. We looked at each other for a while, and it decided to give the road to me, slithering off into the tall grass.
I stopped aboard the RV as I passed to stretch and refill my waters.
At about 12 miles in, I saw a grouping of buildings up ahead. I thought that maybe this was Beryl, the town we never found. As I got closer, I could see maybe a dozen buildings, some of them homes. Closer yet, and it was clearly apparent that it was a ghost town. The windows are all missing, there were no vehicles, there were no people, things were boarded up, and vehicles were left to rot. In fact, an old RV was flipped on its side, most of the things on it rotting on the floor. The old grocery store was boarded up as well, apparently for years. We shot some good sunning scenes through the abandoned town, and walked though some of the houses, which nothing remained inside of.
At the end of the town was a small train control building, also abandoned, and three train cars, two full of rocks, that were on disconnected tracks. They made for an awesome photo shoot. I jumped between two of the cars, landing in rocks on either side. It was like something out of a superhero movie I though. It was a bit of a gutsy running-leap, maybe 4 feet across, but after doing it once, I was comfortable with doing so, and got a few more good photos of my “flight”.
When I climbed down the car ladders and touched ground, I stepped right on a railroad spike, which, at least for me, are one of those rare objects that just aren’t common to come across. It was a cool moment, holding one of those giant “nails” that probably had a bit of history behind it.
I continued on an on quite uneventfully. The road became died salt in some areas.
Mile 26 came, and we took a break. TK asked what the plan was, as he was filming. I gazed down at my watch, then at my GPS. “Milford.” I said. “We are halfway there for today.” “Milford? Today? You’re not going to make it there today.” “The sun sets at 8:30. I’ve got five hours. Watch me.”
It was a conversation played out in a joking manner, yet, I was completely serious. I wanted to get to Milford on that day, completing my segment of 240 miles a day early. I hadn’t really told anyone the plan until then. I was feeling good, and had a bit of a runners high going. I was feeling a bit emotional, knowing that all the miles were going to help fight Multiple Sclerosis. That inspiration would carry me on.
We turned onto our final road before Milford, 24 miles out. The wind picked up and hit me like a brick, blowing all kinds of dust. I threw on my ski goggles and put my bandana over my mouth again. It helped out a lot.
I stopped a couple of times to stretch and get some food in my stomach.
We went by a pig farm. The air smelled horrendous for a mile.
I climbed a long long gradual uphill. Off in the distance, I could see tall trees, clearly planted by people and not desert native, and many buildings. I stopped and stared for a moment. Could it be? Was it really?
Confirming on my GPS that my route was in fact the right one, I dually confirmed that yes, it was Milford. After 8 days of running, there it was, on the horizon. I knew from experience that it was still a long way off, but, I set it as my target, and would not stop until I arrived. I took a dirt two track down, as Maps told me to. In the end, it dead ended. However, that is not the point here. What was notable, and amazing even, about this road, was that it lead us to an abandoned house that had concrete walls. Nothing was left but the walls, the windmill, the water pump and the water silo off to the side. The roof was gone, to my guess, burned. A sand hill was just behind the house, and the mountains made up the scene behind me as the sun started to sink behind them. The windmill spun round and round, and the pipe that it connected to to once pump water would occasionally clang against the supports.
It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. I can’t even describe what it was like. It didn’t seem real. Like… this was once somebody’s home, and now the desert was taking it over in a beautiful, yet bittersweet way. We shot some film and photos of the area, and I hiked back up to the road.
I checked satellite imaging on my phone to see what the best way there was, and concluded that yet another dirt road was the best way. It brought us through yet another small wasteland neighborhood, where everything was abandoned. The road went to a fence, luckily with an unlocked gate. I continued through. The road got a bit wider and ran along the electrical lines that clearly went into Milford, still some miles ahead. I knew I was getting really close. I looked at my watch. TK saw me do so as he was filming. “What’s the milage?” “45!” I responded. “How far to the town?” “I don’t know! But I’m heading there!”
The road turned right. The road was a straight shot into the buildings. My pace picked up dramatically. I hadn’t had water in a few miles, and was running low. I didn’t even notice, and just kept running on. The sun had set and it was getting dark. I didn’t have my headlamp either. I just kept my eyes keen, and watched the headlights of the film car ahead.
Closer. Closer. Stop sign. Left.
I turned onto Main Street, almost in full sprint mode. I riding on so much adrenaline. I could see the RV parked ahead, and the finish line that Charlie had put up. I made my final steps up to the finish line. In those steps, it was like my world stopped. The past 8 days flew through my mind, and I relived the thoughts and the memories. It was a bittersweet moment- I had ran 240 miles for the betterment of others, yet, the most scenic and adventurous run of my life was over.
I held up the finish line over my head. It was a proud moment, and emotional. I looked at my watch. 50.00 miles exactly. No more, no less. I hugged the crew and gave thanks to them all for the incredible work they had done. A couple of locals came to see what was going on, and we talked for a few minutes.
I went inside, barely making it up the steps. I took a cold shower, which felt good against my tired muscles. We went to Penny’s Diner, a 24 hour restaurant that makes all kinds of food. I ordered a burger, with extra fries, a tall stack of pancakes with strawberries, biscuits and gravy, and a milkshake. It was one of the largest restaurant orders, food volume speaking, that I have ever made. I ate all of it. I was starving. The food was average, but ohhh my gosh, it was great to be able to eat a ton of food. Plus, I had been wanting pancakes for a while. We went back to the RV, and after chatting with my parents and brother about the finish, Charlie gave me a boost up into my bed, which is the loft above the driving area of the RV. My legs and arms were of no use trying to get up there. From there, the 8 days of running came to a conclusion, and my eyes shut.
(these photos are from the last post. they loaded here for whatever reason, so I’ll keep ’em)