Saturday, 12 May 2012

USA Day 8 - Revisited (08/05/2011)

Day 8 got off to a good start as I was able to read boxer Tony Jeffries's Sunday Sun column online. Tony had hoped to see me off from Huntington Beach on day 1. Unfortunately, he went to the wrong beach and missed my start. His support throughout the run, via Twitter and the Sunday Sun was first class. To have an Olympian encouraging you, despite being from Sunderland, was very special indeed. You can read what Tony had to say here.

As I write more about the run across the USA over the coming months you should notice one important point. It's how the backing of a few "key people" as well as the thousands of other well wishers throughout the run would made a difference to the outcome. I've talked many times about how the Run Geordie Run brand implies that it is just one man's journey. This couldn't be further from the truth. It takes family, friends, sponsors and well wishers to make it a success. 

This was the first day when I really got a good feeling that people were enjoying the blog. I received lots of emails and Tweets to that effect and it sounded as though it had become part of various people's daily routine.

Due to the time difference between the UK and USA, the previous day's blog would usually be ready and waiting by the time people got out of bed. The UK is where I had the greatest following. However, there was also a strong readership in the USA, Australia, Canada and Germany. The blog would be viewed mainly on PCs and Macs but 20% of the total number of hits came from mobile devices such as an iPhone or Android phone. I do love some good stats!

I hope that through the general media, my blog, social media and the various speaking events I do that people are able to feel as though they've been a part of the run. It is your journey as much as mine. When I come to run across Australia, I hope to take the presentation of that event to a new level. I would like people to really feel as though they've ran some of it with me and have a very good appreciation of the whole thing.

Let's get back to day 8 of the run across the USA. It was by far the coolest start to a day that I'd experienced so far in the USA. The sun shone brightly over the Mojave Desert. This didn't last too long and it became overcast. It was a far more comfortable temperature to run in than previous days. 

Despite the quality of the road surface increasing there were still very few cars about. There were however, lots of freight trains. I could see them from miles away, winding their way through the Mojave Desert. It was a fascinating sight.  For every train I spotted, I still had the various questions going through my mind. Where had they come from? Where were they going? What was in the containers? 

The cool start combined with the descent into a huge valley meant that I was able to make really good progress during the first session of the day. 

It won't be the last time that I say this, but the Mojave Desert was an amazing place not only to run but to think. At this point of the run, I should point out that I still wasn't 100% sure why I was actually doing the run. Yes, there were the financial gains for St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation. That was the main reason, of course I really started to think why I'd really left my family behind and quit my job. "Why do I do what I do?" was the eternal question. I'll park that one for now and it will hopefully become obvious by the time I come to write about climbing Berthoud Pass in the Rocky Mountains.   

After running through Siberia and Bagdad, I reached Amboy after 19 miles of running. It was yet another little town on Historic Route 66 that had once thrived but later suffered following the introduction of the Interstate road. I remember reading that The Hitcher with Rutger Hauer was filmed here. 

There were a few quirky features around Amboy. I noticed this ditch full of old shoes at the side of the road. Very strange!

Amboy had seen the lowest elevation of the day. I'd started running at 1800ft and had descended to 666 ft. The next 12.5 miles involved a climb back to 1800ft. The photo below was taken at the 22 mile point looking back down the hill to Amboy.

The quirkiness continued along Historic Route 66 and I took particular inspiration from the pile of stones below.

I also passed the following pile of stones spelling out my surname. Fate perhaps?

Sadly I had to say goodbye to Route 66 at the 25 mile point. I'd been on it since day 3 and it had conjured up it's fair share of incidents and amazing sights. Most of all, I was sad to say goodbye to the freight trains. They had been like a companion to me for many miles.

As I turned due north off Route 66, a strong headwind started to blow. This was to stay with me for the final 6.5 miles of the day. This was a shame as I'm certain that I would have been able to run more than the eventual 31.5 miles. I found that headwind to be as sapping as the heat of recent days.

As I met the RV, Richard confessed that he'd just had a "near miss". He'd parked the RV on a soft sandy verge. He'd only just managed to get the RV out of the sand. I'd previously seen signs offering assistance in the wake of such an event happening. I think it would have cost hundreds of dollars to get the RV out of the sand if Richard hadn't managed to!  Richard made up for that close call by cooking a cracking pasta dish.

The RV parking place for the night was next to some other trucks right next to the Interstate. We turned the generator on and watched a DVD for a real treat. I managed to watch the first 5 minutes before turning my attention to updating the blog.