The Barkley Marathons Movie

What inspires you? Last winter I watched a movie that inspired me to dream bigger than I ever had before. For most people “The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats It’s Young” probably seems like a quirky little documentary about some truly amazing and somewhat crazy runners. For me though it was a pure dream maker.

The movie itself is about an annual event held in Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee, not far from where I live. The Barkley Marathons is an almost mythical run, without crowds, without support, somewhere between 100 and 129 miles of constant climbs and descents equaling 120,000 feet. The brainchild of Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell, it is regarded as one of the toughest races anywhere. For me it was eye opening. If these people could try, and sometimes succeed, in such an outrageous run, then what can someone much more average like me do?

I watched it over and over, showing it to others and telling everyone to watch it. Opinions were split. Some, like Daniel, were like me and dreams were born. Some thought that the runners were absolutely crazy and wondered why they would even try (Sophia) while a few (Ladonna) just thought “Laz” was a sadistic man.

It was the beginning of the thought. Could I do more than a marathon? Could I make it to 50 K? 50 miles? Did I dare to dream for more? A 100 K or 100 miles? Just how far could a chubby middle aged guy with no experience and no way to get formal training push? That my friends is inspiration.

It was the start of what became Lilyan’s Run. 104.8 miles (that actually became 105.1). I can’t believe that just a few short months ago I watched the Barkley movie for the first time and now I have run from Kingsport to Knoxville, shared a glimpse of Lilyan with everyone and raised some pretty good money for an awesome cause.


Lilyans Run-Final Thoughts

The time for Lilyan’s Run has come and gone. Here are some thoughts on the event and the experience.

First things first, my running buddy Lilyan. She has not been doing the best but took the time to send me a very sweet video of encouragement. This whole thing was for her, to give everyone a glimpse of her accomplishments and story and to increase awareness about Cerebral Palsy. There was one time, during the third day, that I sat at the car and honestly thought I was done. The camber of the road following the days of hills was playing havoc with my ankles, knees and hips. Then I started thinking about her, all she has gone through and the fact that she can’t just stop when life gets tough… Lilyan and her family are such an inspiration to me and I hope to all of you as well.

The response from everyone was unreal. From the first time I told people of the idea until the actual event, everyone was nothing but supportive. Thanks to the help of Barry from KFD the media turned out for the start and really gave a boost to both the donations and the exposure as the combination of Facebook post and blog views hit 9,673 over the span of a few days.

Speaking of donations… when we thought of this we had no idea how to put on an event like this or how to raise any money. There were a lot of starts and stops and bumps along the way and the ball only really started rolling on that front at the very end. I told several of you that if it was a flop I would try to do something else next year but if it raised over $500.00 then I would do it again. Well, just like the start of this, I opened my big mouth and am committed now. Thanks to all of you Lilyan’s Run has raised almost $1,500 dollars so far and I am hopeful that more will come in.

Those of you that helped. There is of course no way I could have done any of this without my wonderful wife Ladonna and the kids. From the time I first broached the idea up through the actual event they were behind every step I took. I dragged them around the Southeast to different events and they slept on cots, in a camper, in vehicles and in hotels to help me train for this. Then during the event Dad and Ladonna drove the support vehicles, moving ahead a couple of miles at a time to alert others and care for me. Trey chipped in supplies, Celena, Guinness, Hibbs and Daniel ran sections with me. So many called, texted, posted and gave… I would have never made it without all of you.

Then there is the beauty that’s all around us. Driving as much as we do, we tend to forget how lucky we are to live where we do. Moving through at a slightly slower speed than I drive allowed me to really soak it in. Each hill was unique in it’s own way, every turn different. While every season is special in it’s own way, I absolutely love Fall and Fall in the mountains and valleys of this region are so colorful and vibrant. Thank you to Jackie for pointing out I needed to take pictures along the way.

This past year I have ran in places around the Southeast: Georgia, Middle Tennessee and Alabama and locally here in SW Virginia and NE Tennessee logging over 1,000 miles. From the rushing rapids of the Guest River Gorge to the gentle water of Fort Loudoun and Melton Lakes through the steep climbs of High Knob and Black Oak to the gentle roll of the Greenbelts and Greenways to the flatness of Melton’s Mile. Along the way we encountered hundreds of others. The insights from those that were far more experienced were instrumental in me being able to do this. Without the time spent with them I would still be somewhere in the middle of Hawkins County.

Oh… and the pictures along the way…

Checking supplies at the start
Interview with Times-News





TV Interview
The Green Belt





It Starts





















Lilyan’s Run By The Numbers

By the numbers:

4 days

23 hours 6 minutes of motion.

105.1 miles traveled

$10.00 a mile donated (so far)

4.5 miles an hour moving average

1 motorist helped with a flat

35.2 miles – most ran in one day

13.2 miles – least traveled in one day (last day)

1 random offer for a ride

115 Times-News shares

9673 Blog and Facebook views

3 Foot long Subway Cold Cut Sandwiches eaten.

11 Twenty ounce Power-Aids drank.

6 Fig Bars demolished

17 Half liter waters

3 other pedestrians passed on 11W

1 Dead sprint to get off a shoulderless bridge before a car got to me

2 offers of a drink

1200 mg ibuprofen

46 Saltstick Capsules

11 Bandaids

1 Box Red Velvet Oreos

4 Runners to keep me company (3 human, 1 dog)

2 times I almost had to jump out of the way.

1 Time a SCEMS ambulance passed without waving

27 Times various EMS and Law Enforcement waved or flashed lights (that I saw)

3 Vehicles used as support vehicle

1 Time I almost quit

2 times people I didn’t know told me they had read about me and encouraged me

5 times a random friend called while I was running and I answered

3 pairs of shoes worm while running

2 days it rained

2 days it didn’t rain

1 Box Nutrigrain Bars

1 Time I realized to late I could’ve had Pop Tarts instead! 🙁

5 pieces of pizza I ate after day three

1 night I iced my knees

3 total people that rode in support vehicles

4 Counties run through

11 Cities and Towns

7 road kill skunks

1 live skunk

3 dogs that gave chase

0 dogs that caught me

21(ish) “emergency roadside stops” (the more you drink, the more you stop)

1 car molding randomly flying off and whizzing by



Lilyan’s Run Days 3 & 4

Just a couple of quick notes about the last half of Lilyan’s Run. As promised, I will detail more in the next couple of days.

  1. The donations keep coming in! At last check we had raised over $1,400 for United Cerebral Palsy. Thank you all so much. Yes, the donation page will stay open for a while so it’s not to late to drop in a few dollars.
  2. The response thanks to the media coverage continues to amaze. When Ladonna told me that EMS1 had picked up the story, it’s very humbling to know. Friday evening after having gone twenty some miles I passed a man walking who told me he had read about it and not to stop. I’m pretty sure that law enforcement and EMS along the way were aware as they all waved, flashed their lights or bumped their sirens as they passed.
  3. Thank you all for the kind words. Just knowing that you were with me in spirit… I can not tell you how much that helped.
  4. Grainger County meant a decided change in the hills. They smoothed out and became long, gradual climbs. Unfortunately the 4 lane highway with it’s wide shoulder disappeared and was replaced by a very narrow and very angled (cambered) shoulder. My ankles and knees took a beating because of the difficult angle. At a couple of bridges there was no room whatsoever besides on the roadway.  Still, the driver’s were mainly very courteous and I was really ready to find some flatter land.
  5. Knox County. Three great things came with Knox. While there were some larger hills there was once again a nice, wide shoulder. Daniel had come out to end Friday with me and joined me on and off for the last day. Just having him there was such a boost. The last thing was the end which meant a beautiful downhill through the Sequoyah Hills Greenway to the finish.
  6. My support crew AKA my dad and my wonderful wife. They mirrored me the whole time I was on 11-W, moving ahead 2-3 miles at a time. They warned others I was ahead, had food and drinks at the ready and attended to everything I needed. Without them this would have never happened.

Times Up

Here we go. All of the effort, all of the planning, all of hopes. Now here we are… 3 days and 12 hours until the adventure starts. Just 3 things left to do. #1 Get the donations going by going here and donating directly to United Cerebral Palsy. If everyone will take 5 minutes and send just $10-$25 dollars it would make such a huge difference!  #2 Hit the share button while you are there on the donation page and #3 starting Lilyan’s Run on Wednesday…

Three Week Warning

The start for Lilyan’s Run is quickly approaching and several have asked how they can help or asked for a schedule. I’m so glad you asked, here we go!!

A wise person once told me that you should never turn down help and I surely need all of the help I can get. The first thing kind of help that’s needed is donations. The Crowdrise page is up and ready at UCP. I am committed to this run, regardless of how much money is raised but it would be really great if everyone could donate and share the page with friends and family.

Several have asked about being section runners or support team. It is a long way and I welcome anyone to join me in whatever capacity they are able. The only thing I remind you of is that I will be going all 104.8 miles. No one would ever accuse me of being a fast runner, even while going on relatively short runs like a 5 or 10 K. This will be a very slow pace, the hills will be walked and there will be stops. So if you take off at an eight minute pace then we will see you later, if you think you are going slow then you still might be a tad too fast! Support team, it will take at least 1 and hopefully two vehicles once I hit the open road leaving Kingsport. There will have to be a vehicle out in front, probably moving a couple of miles at a time. This vehicle will have signage on it and alert on coming traffic of run(s) on the road. It will also have fluid, food and first aid supplies and could be a way for any section runners to switch in and out. If there is a second vehicle it would trail behind in case of issues and again could carry persons and supplies. Please contact me if you are interested in helping.

The RUN will start on November 1st at approximately 9:30 AM at Hobby Lobby in Kingsport, TN and end at Tyson Park in Knoxville, TN.

From the start it will wrap around the shopping center to the Kingsport Greenbelt. We will follow the Greenbelt to downtown, leave it to swing by Sullivan County EMS Station 4 for a scheduled stop and then onto Kingsport Fire Station 1 before returning to the Greenbelt and following it to it’s end on Netherland Inn Road. From there it’s onto US Highway 11-W straight through to Knoxville. Once in downtown it will be onto the interconnecting Greenways to the end. 104.8 miles of fun!!!

Donate Now

Last Training Event

Everyone, we have decided to add one final training event before Lilyan’s Run. The Endless Mile in Alabama will offer one last chance to put all the lessons learned into practice just two weeks before the start of the big event.

I thought of Lilyan’s Run as a way to try and show how much this young lady inspires me and to try and give something back. Prior to coming up with this crazy plan my longest runs ever in events or training were 26.5 miles, 16 miles and a handful of 13.1 mile half marathons. Once I hit publish on that first blog I knew I had committed myself to having to push harder than I ever thought possible. That is exactly what Lilyan does every day, push and show everyone that she can achieve more than they ever dreamed she could.

The first phase was the Run Under The Stars which ended up being a wash out with severe storms cutting it short. Still, there were a few things learned going forward. Next was Merrill’s Mile, again the weather almost stopped it and lack of sleep was an issue but in the end I was able to stumble my way to my first true ultramarathon. Next I decided to step up the fun and try the 12 pack challenge at the Holston River Endurance Challenge. The first night saw the second ultra in the books, the second resulted in near disaster and sent us looking for solutions. Then there was the Race For The Ages. 100 K fell by the wayside as I more than doubled my previous best and got sage words of advise from some of the most seasoned runners in the world.

All of which brings us to now. In mid October in Alabama we will be trying one last trial and going for 100 miles. Then, less than two weeks later, it will be show time.  Throughout the summer I have logged over 500 miles of motion, training for this and October promises to add another 150 plus miles to that tally. All of the training, planning and anticipation will come to an end at 9:30 AM on November 1st.

Please, if you have not already done so, visit the Lilyan’s Run Donation Page at United Cerebral Palsy and donate. Together we can make a difference.

Lilyan’s Run Phase IV

The Race For The Ages in Manchester, TN was such an unusual event that I am going to write another blog just about the experience. For this one I will concentrate on the prep for Lilyan’s Run. After the near disaster that was the Holston River Endurance Challenge I was worried about what Stage IV might hold. I put off signing up for this until literally the last moment as I beat the dead line by about 1 1/2 hours. Continue reading Lilyan’s Run Phase IV

The Holston River Endurance Challenge

The Phase III prep event for Lillian’s Run has come and gone. Now it’s time to review the very valuable, possibly life saving lesson learned as well as what went right and what what went wrong and where to go from here. Continue reading The Holston River Endurance Challenge