Jun 21, 2021
I consider I had a bit of a breakthrough this morning in my quest to get a little faster. Instead of 400 metres, I decided to have a crack at 500 metres, clocking 1:32. This is like running a 73 second 400 metres and holding on for another 100 metres at the same pace. It’s certainly the fastest 500 metres I’ve run in the past year.
Nine years ago today was eventful, as I made my way south from Duluth in Minnesota after the worst floods they’d ever recorded. You can read about it in the blogs below, as well as by watching the videos (the second one particularly).
Jun 19, 2012
Distance today = 51.14 km; Total distance = 8034.65 km; Location = Hermantown – 46 49.124′ N, 92 10.536′ W; Start time = 0853, Finish time = 1730
Thunder, lightning, torrential rain, mud, fog, and mosqitoes. That pretty much sums up the day.
I began on the dirt road I finished on yesterday, after a night of heavy rain. Dirt roads and heavy rain don’t mix well, and I was constantly dodging puddles. And when I stopped, the mosquitoes were unbelievable. Even with repellent on, they were still having a go. After 23 km of this, I finally reached a paved road, which seemed to deter the mozzies.
Then the rain really started. There was lightning cracking all around me, and deafening thunderclaps. The rain was so heavy at times, it was like running through a shallow swimming pool. And then the fog rolled in. Apparently it’s common for these fogs from Lake Superior to head inland.
But I survived, and with a good 51 km under my belt. The big milestone today was passing the 8,000 km mark. Only 21,000 km to go. Mmmmmm, maybe I shouldn’t think of it that way!
Jun 20, 2012
Distance today = 35.26 km; Total distance = 8069.91 km; Location = Duluth – 46 47.078′ N, 92 06.077′ W; Start time = 0901, Finish time = 1435
Well, that was a day to remember!!! I managed to arrive in Duluth the day of their worst floods in over forty years.
The rain overnight had been intense, and it continued through the morning. I wasn’t looking forward to leaving the motel, but hit the road anyway. Given the conditions, and the fact that I felt it was too dangerous to run on any dirt roads, I decided to keep the day relatively short.
After a short while, I saw a dog run out of a road that led to an animal shelter. It clearly had no road sense, and was running in front of cars as it bounded down the highway. I couldn’t catch it (despite turning my watch off and giving it a try), so I went in and informed the staff of the shelter. I don’t know whether they ended up catching it or not.
Soon after, the rains really started again. I ran through innumerable sections of road that were under water. Well, “waded” is a more correct term. And then I discovered my phone had suffered water damage, and I couldn’t make calls or use most other things on it.
There wasn’t much I could do, other than continue as planned. So I ran down to the shores of Lake Superior, which was the main aim of my day. I saw so many sections of road that had been washed away. There is a steep escarpment leading up from the shore of Lake Superior. The rain water had come hurtling down this escarpment like a waterfall, washing away all sorts of things. The worst of the damage seemed to be around the fast food strip, with Pizza Hut and Subway really copping it. It was a pity my phone was not working at that time, as I wanted to video both the damage and Lake Superior. (I did work out later how to get the video working).
I finally made it to the city centre, where I concluded my day of running. However, the road between the city and the motel was under water and closed, so Carmel couldn’t come and pick me up. So I grabbed a cab, which dropped me at the flooded road block. It was about a mile from the motel, so I had to run the rest of the way, after wading through the floodwaters. That was the second time today I covered ground that didn’t count.
I did manage a milestone today – 5,000 miles. So, to the sound of The Proclaimers, and in a Scottish accent, I would run 5,000 miles, and I would run 11,300 more, just to be the man who ran 16,300 miles to fall down on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. Sorry about the meter and timing. You get the idea though.
I really hope the road into the city is open tomorrow, as I have to get back in there to recommence my run from where I stopped today. The forecast is encouraging, so fingers crossed.
Jun 21, 2012
Distance today = 50.39 km; Total distance = 8120.30 km; Location = Carlton (4 km west of) – 46 39.754′ N, 92 28.379′ W; Start time = 0855, Finish time = 1726
Another very eventful day!!! Let me go through it chronologically.
The day dawned bright and clear – a nice change from the past few days – and we had no trouble getting down to Duluth to start where I finished off yesterday.
I began by running along the shore of Lake Superior. This is the largest fresh water lake in the world by surface area. After 10 km I reached a trail, an old railway line, which runs all the way to Minneapolis, nearly 250 km away.
At the start of the trail I met a baby skunk. I couldn’t believe how cute it was, with innocent eyes that looked like a kitten’s that has just opened for the first time. It wasn’t scared of me and emitted no scent. It just wandered slowly into the long grass. It was only about 20 cm long, and I reckon no older than a week or so.
I started up the trail, but pretty soon I began to see signs of the floods. The trail had been completely washed away in sections, and other parts had been totally covered by landslides.
I negotiated each of these impediments until, at the 31 km mark, I reached a 15 metre wide section with rapids that looked like the Colorado River. No sane person would have attempted to cross it, let alone with a phone and other stuff that would have been ruined if it got wet.
So I turned right and started wading across what is normally a backyard lawn, with the water up to my chest (I had put my running belt around my neck). I then started down a road that looked like it was about a metre under water. However, a cop started yelling for me to come back, which I duly did.
Luckily I did, as apparently the water just kept getting deeper until it reached a washed out bridge, which definitely would have been way over my head. I was never going to get through that way.
So I took the only option available to me – a long detour, but at least it meant I didn’t have to double back. I finally reached the other side and finished my day, although not as far down the trail as I’d expected at the start of the day. No problems, though, as I still got my 50 km in, even if the route was a little convoluted.
In the end, I consider I was very lucky. I only had to back-track a trivial 120 metres (I have subtracted 240 metres from my Garmin total). It could have been much worse.
I have just heard that the damage bill for the city of Duluth is estimated to be over $100 million, and there is much more outside the city. That gives you an idea of how bad these floods have been – the worst ever recorded in the region.
Hopefully I’m now past the worst of it, as I really want to enjoy this long trail all the way into Minneapolis.