Until the last soldier or marine comes home, ORWFD 5K Run/Walk will support the Wounded Warrior Project and the Pfc Wesley Riggs Memorial Scholarship Fund.
You can still donate to the WWP and the Scholarship Fund at: http://www.orwfoundersday.com/Donations.html
If you look hard, you will see Commissioner Rusty Senac and Old River-Winfree Councilwoman, Jackie Johnson running or walking to support our Veterans! You will also see the Family of Pfc Wesley R. Riggs, Daniel Riggs, Vickie Riggs, and Brian Riggs.
Special thanks to Bob Botto, Race Manager, Tracie Comeaux, Shane Brand, Kiel Williams, Linda Murphy, Colleen Fontenot, among a few for organizing the race.
Thanks to the best hosts around, Barbers Hill Independent School District.
Barbers Hill Bank supports and continues to support, four years running, ORWFD, the Wounded Warrior Project, and the Pfc Wesley R. Riggs Scholarship Fund by paying all expenses incurred with their $5000 Sponsorship!
We welcome you to Old RIver-Winfree Founders Day 2013 with a look at the last 4 years. We hope you enjoy a look back and come to the 2013 ORWFD.
Absolutely FREE Carnival Rides and games! Texas Fallen Heroes Memorial Wall; Portrait of a Warrior, Ken Pridgeon; Jean Epperson, Published Author of Bay Area History; Boyce Morris, Jr. Historical Old River-Winfree Artifacts; Vendors Galore, Miss Old River Country Pageant; “My Best Friend” Dog Contest; Pie, Cake, Cupcake Bakeoff and auction; Vintage Car and Truck Contest at R&L Auto Supply, and lots of fun!
Enjoy the video!
While you are at ORWFD, be sure and visit the Hospitality Room in the ORW Community Building. Chairman Tracie Comeaux will be on hand with fresh coffee, while you stroll around the exhibits of Boyce Morris, Jr. ORWFD Historian! Below is a sampling of the Historical Artifacts of our area Boyce has, through his on blood, sweat, and tears, brought up from the ground surrounding the Old River. You will want to see this! Thanks Boyce for all you do!
You will be amazed at what Boyce has discovered about our history in Old River-Winfree and the Beauty of the river that runs through us, Old River.
We are unique in our name, our heritage, and our bond to each other. Old River and Winfree, Texas come see your history!
On a Friday Evening, October 12, 2012, community dog lovers gathered for the “My Best Friend” Dog Contest. This year, the Dog Contest will be on Saturday and is sure to be a good time for both dog and “friend”!
They entered into the following Categories:
Category (check one or more) $5.00 ea category
_________ Best Trick (Talent)
_________ Best Dressed
_________ Best Tail Wagging (Personality)
_________ “Caught in the Act” Photo Contest (simple
camera pictures are fine)
Each dog is divided into Small, Medium, and Large Breeds, so everyone stands to win!
We had some really interesting entries last year. A couple of the dogs were rescued dogs and one, the Black Lab, understood commands in German!
Why this fun, cheap to enter, dog contest……Read below:
They are the ones that greet us at the door; the ones that are in the back yard yapping up a storm, jumping for joy, and dancing around just because we are home, finally.
They guard our children, our homes, our lives; and let us know when danger is around real or perceived by them.
They help us to remember our childhood; those days of carefree abandon. Before we knew the world was not always nice.
We are so busy and caught up in our lives; but look down into their eyes and see such love, unconditional love, loyalty, and devotion even though sometimes we forget to let them out and shame them because they potty on the floor. Sometimes their food bowl goes empty a little too long and we wonder why they are gnawing on the furniture. We forget to fill their water bowl and wonder why they drink out of the toilet.
Sometimes forgotten in the back yard, they stand vigil for us, their family.
Enjoy the video of some of our entrants and winners! It was so much fun for everyone!
Go to the Events Page on Old River-Winfree Founders Day Website, scroll down to the Dog Contest, click on the Form page, save and print.
Yes, it’s time again for all our little girls and young ladies to shine. Great -Grandparents, Grandparents, and mom and dads will be busting with pride as their little babies join us in our unique Pageant where Natural Beauty that only comes from sweetness within WINS over outward beauty!
This Pageant strives to instill in our girls that each is unique and wonderful, just as they are!
It’s a fun, fun, fun contest, so get those entries in or come out and support Old River Country (now known as West Chambers County) girls. Other counties are allowed to enter. We understand that they got here just as soon as they could!
Enjoy the Video!
Editor’s note: This is a tribute to Ken “The Dauber” Pridgeon, a War Veteran himself, (serving from the age of 19 to the age of 27), Portrait of a Warrior Memorial Gallery, our Fallen Heroes, all American Veterans, and those who serve today or those who stand ready to go to battle for American Freedom. You must go, if you haven’t already. Take the kids, the grandkids, grandparents, Veterans in your family; it is a must see!
FIRST: When I walked into the Portrait of a Warrior Memorial Art Gallery, I thought of the famous “Jaws” movie line “WE’RE GOING TO NEED A BIGGER BOAT!”
I met Ken “the Dauber” Pridgeon when Old River-Winfree Founders Day was looking for someone to paint a roadside mural for our Founders Day. Ken is famous for the mural at the Baytown Museum and I thought, that’s our guyI
I remember going to his house in early to mid 2009 and saw the work he does. We did commission Ken to do our Roadside mural.
Go to this ORW Community News posting to see Ken painting our mural: http://orwfd.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/commissioning-history/
It was months after that, I felt led to ask Ken to do a portrait of Pfc. Wesley R. Riggs for Founders Day. Ken says when do you need it….. Ken tells the story that it was on a Wednesday I asked him to paint the portrait. He remembers me saying, Saturday, of course! That was two days away!
(This portrait of Pfc. Wesley R. Riggs turned out to be the FIRST portrait in the long line of Portraits of our Fallen Heroes that Ken has done since that day. It started Ken on a Journey of a lifetime, blessed by God.) As Ken set there painting, we didn’t know that another soldier, Army Staff Sgt. Jesse W. Ainsworth, was being escorted by the Patriot Guard going north on Hwy 146 taking him back to his final resting place in Dayton, Texas. Staff Sgt. Ainsworth was the second portrait. The rest is history.
I see Ken when he comes back to where it all began at Old River-Winfree Founders Day and follow his posts on Facebook, but, I had never been to the Memorial Gallery.
August 30, 2013
Yesterday, I was dropping off flyers for the ORWFD 5K Run/Walk Benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project in Memory of Pfc Wesley R. Riggs and I put the Gallery and Ken on my list of places to stop.
I shot pictures up a storm outside, making sure that all of those who saw this post would feel as it they were with me on this visit. I was a happy little camper; hot , but happy.
I then opened the door to go into the Gallery. It was then the 6 senses we are all born with, normally, took over.
First was the gift of sight: My eyes opened wide at the color they were viewing, brilliant in red, white and blue. The Red, White, and Blue of our Fallen Heroes. When my eyes started going from left to right around the Gallery, my thoughts were, “So many portraits”. Meaning, so many lost lives. I took in the portraits that go from ceiling to floor and my eyes started misting up and tears flowed gently down my face.
Mind you, I’m not out of the doorway yet. I’m just standing there taking it all in.
Then my hearing took over and I could hear music, Patriotic Country Music coming from a radio in the back; and, something else; a voice, and I realized and recognized Ken singing at the top of his lungs along with the radio.
I could smell the very faint aroma of paint and started taking pictures to make sure you were seeing what I saw.
I worked my way back toward the music and Ken, all along snapping pictures and just looking at the lives affected by our last two wars and beyond. As I neared Ken, I saw him with his paint brush up, just a painting away on another portrait of a hero, a special kind of hero.
I called to Ken and approached him as he sat and we greeted one another. I turned around from him, telling Ken how wonderful the Gallery is, and I spotted it.
Right behind where Ken paints is his first Portrait, the portrait of Pfc Wesley R. Riggs son of my friend, Daniel Riggs. I’m an emotional person, but it seemed like Wes was there cheering Ken on and watching over the work. Right by Wes was Staff Sgt Ainsworth, Ken’s second portrait.
Ken and I started talking and I continued my way snapping pictures, sharing with Ken, reminiscing, and talking about the upcoming 2013 ORWFD on October 12, 2013.
We talked and I saw soo much more, like the Vietnam jacket pictured in the video below. SO much more to see.
But, YOU will have to go find out the rest of the story on your on. Ken is getting older and his health seemed off to me, he seemed tired. But when he starts talking about his “boys and girls” his face lights up and it’s a beautiful transformation.
Go….. go soon, to see Ken “the Dauber” Pridgeon, a Texas Icon!
If you don’t laugh at this, check your pulse!
This little pug lives in Belfast, Ireland. If she doesn’t make you smile, the song sure will. Sometimes we all feel a little like this! By the way Loca has other videos. This is making the rounds on email and Facebook.
Please, enjoy and SMILE!!
As a side note, his inability to run is caused by a neurological disorder called ataxia, which is in most cases neither life-threatening nor painful.
Aaawwww! Got to love it!
Laugh out Loud Fishing Bloopers; AND Never take a Prissy Girlfriend Fishing; Boy Catches First Fish
In Memory of Pfc Wesley R. Riggs, who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and all that have served and are serving today, who fought and fight FOR FREEDOM!
World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities. This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.
The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:
Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” which stated: “In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.”
President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. From left: Alvin J. King, Wayne Richards, Arthur J. Connell, John T. Nation, Edward Rees, Richard L. Trombla, Howard W. Watts
On that same day, President Eisenhower sent a letter to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee.
In 1958, the White House advised VA’s General Counsel that the 1954 designation of the VA Administrator as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee applied to all subsequent VA Administrators. Since March 1989 when VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee’s chairman.
The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.
The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Some posts are never abandoned. The “Old Guard” will continue to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier throughout Sandy.
The Tomb of the Unknowns, near the center of the cemetery, is one of Arlington’s most popular tourist sites.
The Tomb contains the remains of unknown American soldiers from World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict and (until 1998) the Vietnam War. Each was presented with the Medal of Honor at the time of interment and the medals, as well as the flags which covered their caskets, are on display inside the Memorial Amphitheater, directly to the rear of the Tomb.
The Tomb is guarded 24-hours-per-day and 365-days-per year by specially trained members of the 3rd United States Infantry (The Old Guard).
The Memorial Amphitheater has been the scene of the funerals of some prominent Americans (such as General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing) as well as the site of both Memorial Day and Veterans Days celebrations.
Find out more at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
R&L Auto Supply, Page’s Paint & Body, and Mont Belvieu Auto Supply really put on the Ritz, hometown style.
Lots of Classic cars and trucks, PLUS a vintage Tractor and Motorcycle, really showed their shine at the 2012 ORWFD Classic Car & Truck Show.
It doesn’t get any better that this ORWFD Event put on at R&L Auto in good old Old River-Winfree.
See some of the pictures below!
Thanks to all that came out and supported 2012 Old River-Winfree Founders Day.
Record number of people and record number of entries in each event.
All of us at Old River-Winfree Founders Day thank you!
Pictures will be posted in later posts! These below are a few of the entries and winners from the “My Best Friend” Dog Contest Friday Night!
It is not too late to get your entries in. Moms are scrabbling, pet owners are calling, vendors are registering, bakers are baking. It is so great to see how our communities are coming out to support Founders Day.
So, it is not to late, even up to an hour before the event. Come one, come all!
We took some pictures of the trophies for the Mr/Miss Old River Country Natural Beauty Pageant with the sashes and crowns. The pictures do not do them justice! They are bigger and better than ever. Participation trophies, too lets everyone go home with something!
Contact Linda at 281-385-1735 (City Hall) for information on entries OR contact the Chairperson listed on the entry forms.
Go to http://www.orwfoundersday.com for all the forms, events and information!
See you’ll there!!
Please share this post with all your friends. We realized with buses for the kids running so late bringing the kids home, that we should change the judging time to ensure everyone has a chance to get there on time. Even the parents!
If you need a form, you can stop by most Old River-Winfree businesses or go to http://www.orwfoundersday.com, click on forms, and find your page for the Dog Contest. It will have the form on it. Just print and send it in or drop it by City Hall.
The first 50 get a T-Shirt with their packet!
Not much time left until Race Day on October 13th!
Go to orwfoundersday.com and click on FORMS to register online or print and mail in your entry with your payment!
While you are on the website, visit the events page to see what else is going on that day. Stay with us and experience HISTORY!
See you there!
A giant blast of plasma spat from the sun at as much as 4 million miles per hour Tuesday — by some measures the largest solar event since late 2006 — and it could lead to serious issues on Earth, forcing some planes to reroute, knocking out power grids, and blacking out radios.
The sun unleashed the cosmic double whammy late March 6, erupting with two major flares to cap a busy day of powerful solar storms, Space.com reported. One of the flares is the most powerful solar eruption so far this year.
“Super Tuesday? You bet!” joked Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The storm grew as it raced outward from the sun, expanding like a giant soap bubble, scientists said.
“It’s hitting us right in the nose,” said Kunches.
Both of the huge flares ranked as X-class storms, the strongest type of solar flares the sun can have. They followed several weaker, but still powerful, sun storms on Tuesday and came just days after another major solar flare on Sunday night.
“By some measures this is the strongest one since December of 2006,” Kunches explained. Solar activity has already led to an R3 level radio blackout on NOAA’s space weather scale, he explained, a midstrength event on a scale that reaches to R5. Such effects are caused by X-ray emissions from the sun.
The bigger effects will hit the planet over the next 24 hours.
“Power grid operators have all been alerted.” - Joseph Kunches, NOAA space weather scientist
For one thing, geomagnetic storms — disturbances in the geomagnetic field that surrounds the planet — should hit the G3 level, midway up the scale. That could lead to surges in power lines (a major problem for power companies) and issues with satellites.
“Power grid operators have all been alerted, as well as the regulatory agencies that all pay attention to this,” Kunches said.
GPS users will also be affected because of the highly charged atmosphere; it’s very possible that certain types of applications will be interrupted, specifically highly precise calculations and the high-frequency communications that airplanes rely upon.
Indeed, some polar flights have already been affected, he said.
“Some have already taken action to reroute to ensure their [high-frequency communication],” Kunches said.
Solar radiation storms could reach as high as S4, he noted, which could cause astronauts on the International Space Station to seek shelter from the heightened radiation levels associated with such a storm.
These effects should last about 24 hours, probably lingering overnight into the early morning hours on Friday, pending another eruption — “and we think there will be more coming,” Kunches said.
The upside? Some areas may experience a wonderful display of the Northern Lights.
“It’s the treat that we get when the sun erupts,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Old River-Winfree Founders Day is very proud of Bob and is very honored to have him as our Race Manager of the 5K Run/Walk Benefitting the WWP in Memory of Pfc Wesley R. Riggs. Reading this article will give you insight into his endurance, dedication, and heart!
Rocky (Horror) Raccoon 100 Mile Shoe Sucking Mud Race
Huntsville State Park
February 4th/5th, 2012
As late January turned over to February I was more and more excited about this year’s Rocky Raccoon 100 mile race. It would be my 9th finish if I could complete it – bringing me just 100 miles away from my ultimate goal, my 1000 mile jacket. I had six wonderful pacers lined up to keep me company for the entire race. For the first time ever I would not have to drive myself to or from the race as my first pacer Diana Houston had offered to drive me up, stay for the entire race and take whatever was left of me home afterward. My training leading up to the race had been good too. In October I ran the Palo Duro Canyon 50k and just two weeks later ran the extremely rugged Cactus Rose 50 mile in Bandera. In January, four weeks before Rocky, I completed the Bandera 100k with a respectable time of 17:50. Despite the tough races with lots of climbing I was not injured, and even completed a 50k training run in December. I was running stronger than in 2010, part of which I attributed to the use of Cytomax rather than Gatorade and other sports drinks. After Cactus Rose and Bandera, Race Director Joe Prusaitis remarked at how strong I looked. He has seen me pretty wiped out in some of his easier races. I felt as good as I looked at Bandera. I was relaxed and confident about Rocky.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided that a typical Rocky year (cool to cold and bone dry) was too easy for me. A few days before the race it looked like it might rain. I began to get nervous. As race day approached the forecast got worse and worse until on February 2nd and 3rd flash flood warnings were being issued as it became clear that a huge line of strong thunderstorms was due just about the time the race would start. After the heavy stuff passed more rain was still likely followed by cold blustery winds overnight. I’m scared of lightning and I don’t like heavy rain while running. Wet increases the hazards and the effort. Lightning striking all around me, heavy shoes caked in mud, slipping and sliding on muddy hills, cold wet clothing – Oh golly my imagination was running way out ahead of me!
To go along with my foreboding about the weather, my body was full of aches and pains due to a couple hard workouts I had done about 10 days before. I have sciatic back problems from time to time. Certain workouts aggravate it. Pain shoots down my legs from my lower back and makes it feel like I’ve pulled a hamstring. I was having pain in my left hip that I could feel while walking or running. Just to cap it off I did a measly 2.5 mile treadmill work out on Thursday, two days before the race and almost had to limp away from the dang machine. What a way to instill confidence! Oh gee I only have to run another 97.5 miles – how bad can that get (insert obvious answer)? I was scared to death of Rocky.
On Friday 3rd Diana picked me up just after noon and we drove up to Huntsville to check into the La Quinta (Spanish for “next to Denny’s”). Shannon Smith, my 20-40 mile pacer met us up there. Shannon was my only male pacer. My other five pacers were ladies. Shannon and I roomed together and Diana had a room for two nights. We then checked in at the Race Headquarters in the park. Rain was threatening but we were able to head out for dinner before a major shower. I picked a fine dining restaurant in Huntsville. They had a good jazz ensemble and the atmosphere was so relaxing. I took in the camaraderie of friendship as well as a hefty dose of calories. From that point on I decided to just relax and take it as it came.
When the alarm went off at 4:00am Saturday the first thing I did was check the weather on my i-pad. I could see the line of severe storms (radar reds) was only few miles to the west and would be upon us in minutes. At 5:00am we headed out to the starting line in a torrential downpour. My worst fears were being realized. I was starting an hour before dawn in the middle of a severe thunderstorm. I was calm though. Diana seemed calm. I was wearing my Gortex shoes and my light rain gear. Shannon would be setting up my tent during my first loop with Diana and arranging my drop bags and gear. I’d have a dry place to change. The rain would end at some point. At the Start/Finish everyone was huddled together under a large tent. The wait was short and at precisely 6:00am Joe signaled the start. 376 100 mile hopefuls trotted out into the pouring rain to start a journey with as many different endings as there were timing chips crossing the electronic tracking pad.
Lightning flashed all around us as we took to the trails. I was soaked instantly on the outside but dry and comfortable underneath. My hat kept the rain off my face and the special coating I had applied to my glasses allowed me to see by my headlamp and hand light. My feet stayed dry even when I ran through ankle deep water. Despite all the worry, the storm was just a distraction. We were on pace and dealing with the water and mud as we encountered it. Even better – we were having fun! Diana is a good talker and companion. I was really enjoying her company. The whole run through the rain and mud thing was bringing out the kid in me! I can remember running through mud puddles as a kid. Heck I’m only 62.
It dawned about the time we reached the DamNation Aid Station at mile 6. I had a drop bag there so I left my lights and picked up a dry top. It was still raining but not as intensely. The course now took a 6 mile out and back loop through the “wilderness” and returned to DamNation at mile 12. By the time we returned the rain had pretty much stopped. I chucked the rain gear for a light running shirt as it was in the mid 60’s. Although the rain had stopped, the damage to the course had been done. Paths flowed like little creeks and water was pooling in every low spot. All those feet were churning it up into thick molasses. The next 3 mile section was the worst. It took us through the “Big Muddy” as I called it. In one area there was a pool of mud about 100 yards long that was impossible to get around. The mud was over the ankles and threatened to pull off your shoes! Yup! Shoe sucking mud! The only good thing about that section was that it ended at the Park Road Aid Station sponsored by my running club Houston Trail Runners Extreme (HTRex). I saw familiar faces there and they had the best chow on the course. I had instructed Diana to hold me to just 1-2 minutes per aid station. With 5 aid stations per loop the time you spend can add up to a lot.
My original goal for this first loop had been 4:30. We got a bit behind that pace in the darkness and heavy rain but made up some time in the second half of the loop. We arrived at the Dogwood Aid Station (Start/Finish) in 4:45 which was encouraging. I had planned the 20-40 mile loop at 5:00 adding another half hour to each loop after that. Shannon was there and he ushered me into my tent. Now it was like a pit stop in a car race. Off came the wheels (shoes). Shannon and Diana washed my feet and wiped them dry. Clean socks and a fresh pair of trail shoes followed. I ate a snack from my bag and changed my shirt again. Then it was “bye Diana” and I was off down the trail with Shannon. Shannon plays guitar and likes to sing. I like to sing too. We started singing and we sang for miles on that loop. We sang lots of old country songs and songs my grandfather used to sing to me. When we weren’t singing I was telling him old Rocky Raccoon stories. We both tripped and fell on that loop. Shannon did a spectacular three flip landing for which I gave him a score of “9.0”. At one point about mile 30 we passed a group of women. One of them noted that I had a pacer. The race rules state that pacers are not allowed before dark unless the runner is 60 or older. She called out with a twinge of jealousy in her voice “How come you have a pacer?” I answered “Because I’m past 60.” She said “Past 60 miles?” I was just speechless!
The rain returned for a while and the second loop ended painfully, taking about a half hour longer than I had planned. I had noticed the back and hip pains from the beginning. I was hoping they would just go away but they didn’t. Now I could feel a little jolt of pain with every step and my lower back was one big ache. I was slowing down by walking more and the mud was exhausting me. However – my next pacer was Angela Jones. She is a tiny young mother with a big faith in God. She had never run past the half marathon point (13.1 miles) and had never even run trails, but was willing to run 20 with me. I picked her for the 40-60 mile loop because I knew it was critical, and that it would go into the dark hours of the race. Angela had that infectious “can do” spirit that I needed to keep me motivated. It was 4:00pm when we left Dogwood. I was aware that I would be pushing the 80 mile cutoff time on the next loop if I slowed much more on this loop. Thirty hours seems like a long time but I did not want to box myself in by not allowing enough time late in the race in case I just had to walk it out.
Angela seemed to be talking to herself as she ran along ahead of me. When I caught up to her I could hear that she was praying for me out loud! Every now and then she would turn around and yell at me “Say you receive it Bob!” and I would yell “I receive it!” What was I receiving? It was healing from God! As I ran, the pain began to ease until it went away entirely! By mile 46 my back was fine, my legs felt good and I was picking up the pace. At DamNation we picked up our lights. Shortly after resuming the trail a guy called out to me “You have a lovely pacer!” I answered “Yes, I know, Thanks!” Angela just smiled. By mile 50 it was almost dark. The halfway point gave another lift to my spirit. I told Angela that this loop was my best yet. After dark we picked sections to run more carefully but we made great time. Mariela’s homemade apple pie awaited me at the Park Road Aid Station at mile 55. It was so good! Angela used her phone to text my wife Kat at mile 56 and to tell Michelle Bitterly, my 4th loop pacer, that I was an hour from the 60 mile mark. Angela was plumb tuckered when we got to the end of the loop but she made it just fine. On arrival Michelle saw that I was tired but not in pain, in good spirits, and still running well. It was close to 10:00pm when we left for the 60-80 mile loop.
I picked Michelle to take me through the “Night of the Living Dead.” She is a pert little blonde marathoner with more life and energy than you could pack into a human being twice her size. She is not a trail runner but I thought she would enjoy this very unique trail experience. Rocky runners slow down at night. Slogging through the mud in the wilderness with the coyotes howling in the wee hours of the morning is so different from blasting out a marathon in broad daylight on the streets. Temperatures were now dropping through the mid 50’s and the wind was blowing hard in the tree tops. I made sure I was dressed warmly enough before heading out with Michelle. Conditions on the trail were improving in some areas, worsening in others. Huntsville State Park has sandy soil which drains quickly in most areas. It had not rained since late afternoon so much of the trail was drying out. Boggy soil areas like the “Big Muddy” drain very slowly. In these areas, foot traffic was making the trail worse and worse. We had to run through the Big Muddy twice each loop. There were also clay jeep roads with steep inclines that became slip n’ slides as the race went on. Many tracks could be seen where runners had slipped backwards down the slope and had to climb up again.
Michelle and I enjoyed the night. The moon was nearly full over Lake Raven. The swamps were filled with night sounds. I walked a lot and ran what seemed “safe”. At this point I did not want to take a chance losing a 60+ mile investment with a sprained ankle or worse. When we saw runners we asked them if they were OK. Many were obviously suffering, some dropping out at the aid stations. Of course there were stories to be told and food to be eaten. I got another serving of apple pie at Park Road at mile 75. Michelle seemed to enjoy this concept of a “progressive dinner”. All the while I carefully kept track of the time so as to leave at least 7.5 hours to run the last loop just in case.
My 5th loop pacer, Shauna Frazier had been waiting for a couple hours when we arrived at Dogwood (mile 80) just after 4:00am. Shauna is a young adventure racer and multi-athlete. It’s not easy to get somebody to come out in the woods at 2:00am to run and walk 20 miles. It takes a lot of spunk and Shauna’s got it. The temperature was in the 40’s now and the gusty wind continued making it very cold, especially if you were moving slow. Shauna was bundled up though and I added another layer to my outfit. We were back on the trail by 4:30am, an hour and a half ahead of the cutoff, giving me the time I needed to finish the race – hopefully. After starting the loop I noticed that the pain on the bottom of my foot that I had thought was due to sand or stones in my shoe, was still there after a foot wash and a change of socks. I knew what that meant. I had blistered the bottom of my foot. I’ve run and walked 20 miles on blistered feet before and I could do it again. It didn’t make for pleasant thoughts or feelings though. After the excitement of starting with Shauna faded I also realized how tired I was. It was still two hours before dawn and I was trying to fall asleep while running and walking. I’d close my eyes and then open them just in time to see that I was going off the trail or needing to wade a mud hole or negotiate a rooty section of the trail. This process repeated over and over. Bless her soul Shauna tried to keep me alert but it was a losing battle.
When dawn arrived everything changed. All of a sudden I was awake and alert. Shauna called ahead to let Diana know where we were and that we would reach Park Road by 9:00am. This was a very exciting prospect for me, not just because it was mile 95 and that there might be more apple pie, but that my friend Cathy Sotelo would be waiting for me to take me to the finish line. By 8:00am Diana was waiting at Dogwood for my finish and Cathy was at Park Road. Shauna was having some issues with aches and pains so she asked to be excused at Park Road. I thanked her for a job well done. It was a little before 9:00 when I got there. Cathy had Mexican hot chocolate in a thermos and it tasted so good! Yes I got another helping of apple pie too. Cathy had a friend that drove up with her and the three of us began the final leg of the journey. I had plenty of time to walk it out so I did. A half mile from the finish line I told Cathy that I was going to run into the finish. It was just past 11:00am. I started running and I was amazed at how easy it felt, other than the pain in my feet. My legs were strong and flexible. Finally I could see the finish line and I began a full sprint crossing the line at 29:17:40 on the race clock!
I ran right into the arms of the volunteer handing out the buckles! What a moment! Cathy and Diana savored it with me for a bit then I went to the tent to change into dry, clean clothes and shoes. Afterward Diana and Cathy took my tent down. By this time I had really stiffened up a lot and was having trouble getting in and out of the car. Diana drove me home and I was there in time to catch an hour nap and go to a Super Bowl Party at my church. I was proud of my accomplishment but at the same time I knew so much was due to my pacers and friends. If ever you consider running a hundred miles this is certainly the way to do it.
Postscript: 218 runners finished the Rocky Raccoon 100. This represents a finishing rate of 58%, the lowest figure ever in the 20 year history of the race.