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Another adventure coming, this time on foot

Ed Dupree’s thoughts provided inspiration

My sport of choice has almost always been running, at least since 1979. Before that, I just didn’t do a lot of running but neither did hardly anyone else. When driving through Salisbury, it would have been unusual to see a runner. Things have changed quite a bit and now, at almost any time of day, you can see an individual or a group pounding the pavement. The sport has become quite popular nationally and locally as well.

One of the folks who had a huge part in the local running boom was Ed Dupree. I was fortunate to get to spend some time alone with Ed in his hospital room last September. Just as fortunate as I was to see him for the last time on the day before he died in May. What transpired between those two days tells much about why I wrote this article for today’s paper.

Whenever I would see Ed, it didn’t take long for the conversation to address running, but we also talked about baseball and other sports. I never understood his love for golf that usually came up. Ed told me in his hospital room that one of his doctors said, “You may only have few months to live.” So the conversation got around to just a few regrets that Ed had. I don’t think he had many, but his words were something close to this: “I want you to run across North Carolina. I always wanted to but never did and you can do it. How far could you run a day?”

It was clear that Ed had put a lot of thought into a run across the state. He planned to do 10 miles a day and get his wife Bitsy drive along to support his effort. Ed did get to run in all 100 N.C. counties but it was obvious that he wanted more. I sat there and listened to him, at first thinking that I just couldn’t do it. A couple more visitors came and I left, pondering just briefly as I walked to my truck about what such an effort might include.

Since that day, I can’t get the idea out of my mind. I have bounced around different dates and scenarios, researched the only two others who made the crossing that I can find any information on and wondered a lot about whether I can do so many miles. Here is what I have come up with for what might be my biggest challenge yet.

I plan to start on Saturday, March 3, just west of Murphy, within the shadow of the state line sign. Amber, my youngest daughter, will drop me off there on her way to running a half marathon in Chattanooga. I will head east and work up to an average of 25 miles a day on the way toward the Outer Banks and Manteo. My vehicle of choice as of this writing is a baby jogger, used specifically to carry my supplies, clothing and tools. Since I can’t ride, I guess I have to push it. One of the two guys that chronicled a solo cross-state run did it by pushing a baby jogger. The other carried a light backpack and had someone going ahead and arranging things while dropping off the bigger stuff. Yet, he still calls his run unsupported. Not sure how that applies.

To make this run happen and not leave other obligations undone at home, I will make several brief return visits to Rowan County. I will drop in from time to time for certain events that include the opening night of our spring beginning runner’s class, Special Olympics and the event permitting committee that has been meeting for close to a year.

My goal all along has been to complete most of the run before it gets hot and before Amber’s wedding in May. I’m going against a few of the rules I teach in those runner’s classes too, the worst of them is a such a big increase in mileage. An average week for me right now includes 40-45 miles and that total is suddenly going to jump to as much as 175. This is an astounding figure, way more than the 10 percent increase considered healthy. The mileage is one thing but the other is possibly bigger. Runners face traffic most of the time, meaning that my baby jogger and I will take up about two feet of the lane. On my bike rides, most of the traffic action happens behind me which I am at peace with. I’ll get used to the change. The last big thing is that I am starting in the mountains and going higher before cresting and heading gradually downhill toward the coast.

I won’t be leaving the bike for long. There is an adventure coming in June that includes cycling in Nevada and Utah. So with all this to consider, a new adventure is set to begin. After I find the baby jogger and the best route, that is. I hope everyone will enjoy the journey. As usual, I look forward to your comments by email and I will certainly keep you posted throughout. Let’s go have fun!    

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