Westbrook has run the length of each colored county

Westbrook has run the length of each colored county

 By Season Westbrook

    For as long as I can remember my dad has been running across the world it seems, or, at the very least, Georgia. I would be visiting my grandparents in North Georgia with my brothers and sisters while he would be gone for days running. I became used to the fact that Dad would travel to my grandparents’ with us all and then we might not see him again for half, whole, or even several days. That was our life…Dad’s on a run again. I like it though. I was convinced (still am actually) that he could run forever. I think when his time comes, he will simply run off into the distance and never return, nothing tragic, nothing dramatic, just disappear….

            I don’t really like to think about that, so on a more uplifting note. I have included a map of Georgia with the counties colored in which he has run across. No cheating! There is a county or a few that are not colored in that he has run across but it was just the short length. According to Dad, if it’s not the full length of the county then it has not been included.

            Georgia has 159 counties. He has run through 70 of then and has 89 left to go. Who wants to wake up at 3am and take him to the beginning of the next county he plans to run?

Below is an article Richard wrote about his quest to run the counties of GA…

Westbrook on Running  

by: Richard Westbrook

       It was a Tuesday in September. The weather was glorious. It was one of those days that we say is “made for running.” The sky was a deep blue. The telltale southeastern humidity was relatively non-existent. The temperature high was in barn the mid-seventies.

       l was in North Georgia to add a rung to one of my quests. It was so North Georgia that it slammed up against Tennessee. This quest adds a little adventure to my running and life. It puts a little “juice” into my whole running scheme. There are other pursuits that “juice” things up, but this one is usually more readily accessible than the others. This one takes minimal planning and expense. The biggest hurdle for this one is the time to do the particular part. This time, I had a Tuesday in which I could pursue the quest.

       My daughter, Season, was free to help me on this one. She would drive along in order to give me aid at various points along the way. She would take pictures of the landscape and any of the quaint or oddball stuff one can usually see on America’s back roads. Being a connoisseur of these “Americana” oddities, I delight in discovering these things on my runs. It is the only in America theme that makes this stuff appealing… showing the fiercely individual characteristic nature of the creator. Kind of like a characteristic of runners, huh? Maybe, that’s the reason for the appeal.

       Season did a great job. Her short aid points allowed me to stay well hydrated with water and Gatorade and energized with Coke during the run. She was always alert and ready. This was especially appreciated because she was babysitting my granddaughter, her niece, at the same time. An independent four-year old, Lex demands one stay on their toes to keep up with her. Season handled it like a pro. She just helped add to a perfect running day.

       The quest is to run across each county in Georgia before I die. Georgia has 159 counties, more than any state east of the Mississippi River. I’ve got a long way to go. Up to this one, I have crossed fifty counties. Most were done as I ran the length of the state in two different routes. Others were plugged in as my running and schedule allowed. I have seen metal dinosaurs. I have spotted alligators in the water I was to immerse in to cool down. I have seen a field of numerous church steeples on the ground, shrouded in fog to present an eerie sight indeed. This run presented giant wind chimes in a field that made me wonder how they sounded when the wind was strong enough to make them sing.

       The run started on state highway 60 at the Fannin County – Union County line. We drove up early in the morning, and the run started at 7:50 am. The air was clear with no fog to hide me on the side of the road. Luckily, I had enough shoulder on the left of the white line in which to run comfortably with cars, actually trucks. approaching me as I ran facing traffic. There weren’t many cars, but there were dump trucks after dump trucks taking dirt to build up the opposite shoulder of the one on which I was running. My timing was good in this respect since they weren’t dumping on my side. Initially, I was worried about Season pulling in and out of the road with the trucks returning for a refill. However, she had it under control.

       I had not run this long since last spring. I was unsure how I would feel in the late stages of the run, especially with all the hills involved. It seemed like all I was doing was running uphill. I started in the shadows of the trees and felt the coolness of the air on my skin. This lasted a surprisingly long time as the forest hid the sun’s direct rays from the road. This made the run easier. Along with my conservative pace and the cooler temperatures overall, this made the adventure better in the long run.

       I had the red Gatorade, fruit punch, constantly. I had stoked a bottle for each hour of the run, but actually had about a half bottle for each hour. In between the Gatorade, I drank cold water. About half way through I had a can of Coke. It worked just fine, as it had in the past. I ran easily, with no problem of sore, aching muscles. This is important, because for every uphill there was a downhill (at least, there should have been, but I’m not sure there was.) As those who have done long runs know, the downhills can and will hurt more than the uphills. But, I had no such problems. I was feeling good.

   dish    I saw a constant panorama of lush green farms and vistas. Deer were abundant. Homes were few and far between. The first town I was to enter was Margret. I guess it was there, perhaps the place with the houses closer together, but I couldn’t swear to it. Then there was Hurst, or it was supposed to be. Maybe another place of a sparse collection of houses. Only when I had left those places did I think I had passed through a town.

       Ah, but Morgantown. Now there was a town…with a city limit sign and everything. It had a post office, stores, gas station, restaurant, eye doctor. It was all perched on a hill with the road curving through town. I couldn’t miss this one. Then came Mineral Bluff as I ran down a long hill. I could see the picturesque town basking in the sun. The rooftops emanated their bright colors and, with all the green around, it looked like a prime candidate for a postcard.

       By this time, it was maybe ten miles to go. I couldn’t help but think that I would crash shortly. The approaching hills I could see went up in a straight line. No more winding their way to the top, which made it easier. I struggled on some of these hills north of Mineral Bluff, but still felt ok. Pantertown was next and was identifiable. Season was told by a resident that it was against the law to stop on the shoulder, even though there were no signs and there was plenty of room. Maybe it was against the law to stop there close to the front of his house. I knew that once I was in Pantertown, I didn’t have far to go.

       The good thing after Pantertown was that the terrain got flatter. The road nestled in beside the Toccoa River and followed it into the next town, McCaysville. This was good, because McCaysville was the finish line. Or, I should say, the north end of McCaysville was the finish. This was the Tennessee state line. McCaysville, Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee are separated only by a blue line painted on the road through the town on the state line.

       I finished there and had thirty miles behind me. I still felt good considering the distance. I looked forward to going back to the edge of McCaysville to Maggie’s Deli to set myself up with a vanilla milkshake. That’s my usual reward after a long run of this type. Season, Lex and I ordered, sat outside on the porch, and enjoyed the day. It was a good day to be alive and a beautiful day to enjoy it.

       Another Georgia county was on the books… or, rather, the map. Fannin County will be the fifty-first one completed. That leaves 108 counties to go. But, who’s counting?

The road begins to change, rising in elevation, becoming narrow and sinewy. In the dark I can make out the distant shapes of barns and satellite dishes, often side by side.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Rich Hall

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              From Vanishing America

US-27 runThis is a map of the route Richard ran on US 27, 355 miles!!

Comments
  1. Derrick Peterson says:

    When you run across Ware or Charlton counties. I want to be there.

    All the best coach.

  2. Richard Westbrook says:

    When I get to those counties, I will let you know. Those are really big counties. I would probably need someone there to kick my butt across those.

  3. Lex Morrow says:

    yes,yes i am an independent (older than four year old, considering im 13 almost 14. i dont even remember any of that at all. But it sounded fun, minus the part where SEASON was watching me. thats scary to even think about. I’d like to do it again sometime. 🙂

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