Gotta Run: Challenges keep life new and interesting

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2023

I get a charge out of doing some unusual challenges. Sometimes it’s as simple as seeing if I can lift more or last longer than the much younger farm help. Another thing, I don’t like to be beaten in cornhole. If I lose a match, I’ll say, “Let’s do 2 out of 3!” And then hound that person until I can win.

Some of my bike ride followers might remember Janis Ramsey, then from Alaska, who I met when she asked me to stop in and visit on my ride from Nevada to Anchorage. Janis and her Salisbury native husband Frank Ramsey now have a condo in Salisbury. Just the other day, she handed me a magazine story about a runner from Texas who was trying to run in all 254 Texas counties. Jon Walk was just over 300 pounds when he challenged himself. He’s down to about 200 pounds and has 196 counties completed.

I took the article home and read it. Then set it aside, then read it again. I thought, “Why not do the same thing, but in N.C.?” Post sports editor Ed Dupree challenged me in 2017 to run across North Carolina, largely because he had not been able to do so by the time leukemia began to take his body. The day before Ed died, I was able to tell him that I would run across the state beginning in February. That run was completed in 2018, a few years after Ed himself completed running in all 100 counties. It seems like Janis had something in mind when she gave me the article. She said, “I thought you would like the idea!” In both cases, I got the idea on my mind and couldn’t shake it until I committed to chase the challenge.

The good thing about doing a new challenge is that I get to set the rules. Turns out that Jon Walk was inspired by a man who ran at least a mile in every city and township in Massachusetts. Walk said, “It just keeps me active and motivated and I like to think of it as a healthy addiction.” Walk runs 15 minutes minimum in each county, sure that the 15 minutes will guarantee at least a mile.

Here are my rules. As time allows, I am going to commit at least a day a month for the sole purpose of running at least a mile and a half in the county seat of every N.C. county. Some months, I will do more than a day. A few readers might say that a mile and a half isn’t much but consider that Walk has visited seven counties in the same day at least a couple times, and that all of this will come after my usual morning run. Before, during and after the run, I want to learn more about the county seat and the county. When possible, I will eat at an interesting place in the town. There is no time limit to get all the counties complete, but I do have to average at least a day a month in this pursuit. And to make it more interesting, my daughter and granddaughter have committed to go along when they can. My daughter Amber just completed her first marathon and the Booper, my 3-year-old granddaughter, is doing the local fun runs and doesn’t mind a good ride in my “Murphy to Manteo” baby jogger. My challenge, my rules!

I am ordering a large N.C. map that will reside on an upstairs wall and I’ll keep a journal of what transpires, likely posting a recap often in this column.

Speaking of challenges, our Beginning Runners Class begins on March 14 at the Salisbury P.D. and lasts for 8 weeks. Our next local run/walk is the Jace Landon TBI Aftercare Awareness 5K is on March 11 at Knox Middle School and the Salisbury Greenway. Look for more information on both and other upcoming events at