2012 Champaign St. Jude Runners

2012 Champaign St. Jude Runners
Our AMAZING group of runners for 2012~

St. Jude Supporters

St. Jude Supporters
After running for 20 hours, the thousands of supporters lining the streets to cheer our arrival is an important and welcome boost!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dusting off the ol' Blog

OK. I admit. I'm not a prolific blogger. I like to write about things related to my involvement with the St. Jude Runs, and we definitely have a "season" of sorts, and things are just now starting to heat up in the 2013 Run Coordinator world...in other words, it's Bloggin' time!

I'll make up the lack of a recent blog with a rather long one. But I hope you'll find it a quick read.

I'm going to start off this 2013 Run season with finishing a tease from last year (I did mention I am not a prolific blogger, right?). I ended my last entry by mentioning something about driving the entire length of the Run--basically a reconnoitering drive, looking for new construction sites and unexpected closures of facilities.

It ain't rocket science. We just drive the route we've been running for several years now.

But we had a bit of confusion the first time we drove out of the Dixie Truck Stop in McLean. I confidently took a left turn out of the parking lot, and proceeded west. I say confident, because I knew that making a right would head us back to Champaign, and that clearly is not the direction we need to go. Besides, when we run the route, we travel due west 6 hours on Route 136; so it was natural to get on it, and do what we do all night—namely head west.

But (there's always a "but" in these stories) at some point we had to start working our way northwest towards Peoria. Kathleen and I knew that, and remembered that it was some point past McLean we had to start bending the route towards Peoria. "Remembered" is a strong word...in fact, we had it written down in the route description we were jotting notes on.

Note the word "description." We didn't have a map with us...just something describing the route in words. After all, we've run this quite a few times. Map? Map? We don't need no stinkin' map!

As we proceeded along Route 136, Kathleen started getting an uneasy feeling. She started to feel like we had missed a turn somewhere. Nah. Can't be...gotta be straight ahead. But at some point, we weren't finding reference points for stops.

Our stop descriptions in the boonies read like this: "3.2 miles--three grain silos on the right-hand side" or "2.7 miles--rock pile on left." That's just the way we roll out here in the flat lands, with long stretches of road through corn and soy beans. Problem is, there seems always to be grain silos every couple of miles. So, a grain silo at 3.0 miles, surely must be the one meant to be at 2.7, right? Meh...maybe. Seemed wrong, though.

Time to bust out the iPhone, and fire up Google Maps. And wait a bit. Cell data rates stink out here.

Yeah. We missed the turn out of McClean, and had driven nearly 10 miles too far on Route 136. Crap. Turn around, head back to McClean. Back to the Dixie Truck Stop, and try it again. This time, we spotted the less-than-well-marked road sign we were looking for.

Memo to ourselves...that's a trouble spot. We won't do THAT again.

A few months later, we re-drove the route a week before the Run. Glad we did too...found a new bridge construction which affected our charter bus, and it required a re-route for the bus (but not the runners).

And believe it or not...we made the same mistake out of the Dixie Truck Stop as we had earlier! We (I)—again—drove past the poorly-marked signage for our turn out of McClean. Fortunately, we only got a mile or so, and looked at each other...not only did it seem like deja vu, it was, in fact, deja vu all over again!

Kathleen is the note-taker in our relationship. She industriously scribbled more notes on our route map, underlined, highlighted, and generally ensured we would not do that again. And in fact, WE would not do that again! Yep, not us!

Fast-forward to the 2012 Run. The Dixie Truck Stop is a scheduled 2-hour break, it's early morning. We still have some nappers on the bus, but it is time to head out, and get on the road again with two of our runners. I carefully describe the turn they have to watch for, and confident that they are well-briefed. I video them jog out of the parking lot, and make that familiar left turn out of town. So our intrepid runners start out, along with a new chase van driver, and a State Trooper escort (they just follow) with cheerful lights a-flashing.

In the audio of my un-edited video, you can hear Kathleen come up behind me, and ask, "do they know to make that turn out of town?"

"Yup!" I said. "I briefed them. They know where they are going."

...I know you are already getting ahead of me on this one...

Kathleen and I stayed behind with the rest of the Champaign Run team, and rode the bus to the next stop. The ride is timed in such a way that we always pass the runners en route. It's a great time to honk the horn, and cheer and wave at them. Only this time, we did not pass anybody. This was slightly alarming, and just a little ominous. I did not feel like we left so late such that the runners got to the next stop before us...and there was a feeling something was wrong.

Maybe we just missed them. The two runners. The chase van. And the police squad car with the flashing lights. Yeah, we simply drove past them and didn't see them..right?

Funny thing about running in the boonies. Sometimes cell phone service stinks. And yes, at this particular moment, we can't get a hold of the chase van. Nada. We had been way ahead of schedule, and now, our runners were 30 minutes overdue. This got waaay past the alarming stage. We were now concerned—but comforted in the fact that we had a police escort. And they at least had a radio.

Kathleen and I, as brand-new St. Jude Run Coordinators, had managed to lose our first runners. And a van. And a police car. That had to be something for the record books.

Finally. Finally—in the distance—we see the chase van lights skimming along the tops of the corn rows, behind that, police lights. Unless our runners could do 50 MPH, there was nobody running in front.

After the wave of relief had passed (the new Champaign Run coordinators will be coming home with everybody safe), we compared notes, and yes, that poorly-marked sign got us again.

In a video I made documenting last year's Run, all of this transpires right at the 2:38 mark. In fact, I have it keyed up, and ready to go right here. So now you know the inside joke about the hands held wide apart with a look of exasperation!

We are thinking about installing a GPS into the van this year! Or at the very least, have some people stationed at that poorly-maked road with big foam fingers pointing the way!

Can't wait to see what 2013 brings!

2012 Champaign Run Video