With all the injuries on my stump from the two previous days races, I had all but convinced myself that there would be no marathon on day three. I went to sleep in my king size hotel bed thinking I would probably just sleep in and miss the Rhode Island race. Surprisingly, when my alarm woke me up at 4:00am I sprang up out of bed and felt like a new man. I was awake, alert and ready to go. My legs actually felt fine, the soreness I felt the day before was gone. I got dressed and headed down to the start of the race. Instead of feeling worn out I was actually getting more energized. Is that weird or what?
The New England Challenge marathons were limited to 50 runners per race. The group of runner above looks a lot like a bunch of old men, one guy even looks a lot like Santa. Little did I know as I ran these marathons I was surrounded by the great one. These runners had logged hundreds of marathons. In my world, running 50 marathons in 50 states is an extreme feat but all around me were people who consider 50 marathons half a years goal. Many of these guys run at least one marathon or more per week! It was an honor to be rubbing elbows with them. Jim Simpson the dude in the red shirt is the first American to run over 1000 marathons. That’s a lot of marathons!!! Do the math if he ran 22+ marathons a year for45 years that equals 1000 marathons. WOW!
Shortly after the start of the race I found myself all alone again and running through the forest. I couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that I was being watched. As I turned down the path I had a sudden sense to turn my head left and as I did I came face to face with a very large hawk! It shocked me so bad that I tripped and nearly fell. I have no idea how long he had been following me but when he landed on a branch less than a foot from my face I thought, ‘this is it, he’s plucking out my eyes and having them for lunch’. He must have been more curious than hungry because he made no aggressive move toward me but just sat there looking right into my face. I must admit that I do have a rather pointed nose so perhaps he thought I was another hawk and he just wanted to say hello.
Warwick Park was a small but gorgeous park perfect for a marathon. Oddly there was an usually high presence of law enforcement. There were probably 8 police cars with 2 officers in each car about every half of a mile all along the trail. Rhode Island is small so I thought that maybe these guys didn’t have much to do all day and they decided to come down to help out with the marathon. As I circled around to the marathon water station again I noticed another cop there as well. Now wait a minute, this was a little overkill. I asked the volunteers working the water station what was going on. They told me a disturbing story that a local runner had been murdered in this very park just a few days earlier. His body had been stuffed in a garbage bin! The victim would come to the park very early every morning and run several miles. The police believe he may have accidently witnessed a drug deal and was shot so he couldn’t tell anyone. It’s a good thing I didn’t learn of this “Murder in the Park” until I was almost done. I have to admit this really freaked me out. Now instead of experiencing a feeling of peace being all alone in the thick forest I was experiencing a feeling dread being all alone in the park trails!
I loved this race. That probably seems weird given the stalking hawk and murderous trash can of horrror, but this was my most favorite marathon of the series. I loved the course and the beauty of Rhode Island could not be matched. I felt stronger for doing this race. It was great getting to know the unique group of runners that are brave enough to take on the challenge of running a marathon daily for several days in a row. My third back-to-back marathon was complete and State #22 is history.