Georgia On My Mind

Posted: October 29, 2013 by smrtnsasy in Georgia county quest
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I remember in elementary school seeing maps of our country as it was being discovered and settled. Of course, it looked a lot different than it does now. What surprised me then and made me think was that the map related some eastern states or colonies as they do now, but with one dramatic difference, that being they extended to the Pacific Ocean. There it was, Georgia, stretching all the way west. What was now Alabama, Mississippi, Northern Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, or Southern California was then Georgia. Well, the map changed greatly with exploration, settlements, and people identifying with their regions. The result is that we have Georgia as it is today.

I’m glad that happened. That’s because I have a quest to run across each county in Georgia before I die. Right now there are 159 counties. That’s a lot. Just think if we reached to the Pacific. I run across a county when my schedule, training, and availability of some help allow me to do so. Right now, I have completed fifty-two counties. That leaves one hundred and seven to go. Whew!

Another thing is the Run and See Georgia Grand Prix road races. I love to drive to various regions of the state to run a race there. The race is the obvious purpose, but the drive to get there is another purpose for going. Even better is the drive home after the race. I don’t have to arrive for a race start at a certain time, so I take a scenic drive home on back roads. It may take me longer to get home, but the scenery is usually worth the extra miles. I only wish my schedule would allow me to do more of this.

Geographically, our state is one of great variety. Locked away in my memory are scenes I’ve envisioned on a run. They are special visions and experiences that add to my running. I’m enthralled when I experience the visions and the feeling associated with them during the run. Afterwards, I have it forever in my mind and can bring back that memory anytime.

From Trion, my hometown, running hours before sunrise through Summerville and Menlo, then up the mountain to Mentone, Alabama, gave me visions of a clear, moonlit sky. As the run progressed, the morning sun cast shadows on the valley below as I ran up the mountain toward Alabama. I could see a valley of green with patches of farms, towns, and ribbons of asphalt winding about the valley floor. The morning mist was being burned away by the sun, and the shadows disappearing. By the time I reached the top, the valley was panoramically displayed below. It was a beautiful sight.

...like an old, sweet song

…like an old, sweet song

Ocean breezes in my face on Cumberland Island made those runs special. There is a limit of people they let on the island at one time. This makes running there seem like I am the only one there, especially early in the morning. I seldom see other people as I greet the sun on the beach and then head inland to the trails. I have seen the horses running and I have seen them feeding. Huge gators float in some of the ponds, just hoping for an easy meal…and I keep moving. The running is softer than that of north or middle Georgia, being on sandy soil surfaces, and many miles can be run with less stress on the legs than my normal running.

The long corridor of the Silver Comet Trail is a favorite running site for me. It is a multi-use trail, meaning it is paved. So, it is not a trail in the truest sense. But, for me, it will do. Running there is convenient. I don’t have to worry about traffic. I don’t have to keep constant watch for rocks, roots, or bears. The narrow corridor offers a good running site, and is long enough to lay down some miles. It extends east to west or visa-versa.  It follows an old railroad bed, and this provides good scenery for the run.

The roads from my house to the square in Newnan provide me with one of my favorite runs. I pass through Union City, Fairburn, and Palmetto on the way. The road provides me with a long, straight route through some sparsely populated areas. I run by fields, forests, residential areas, a small airport that looks abandoned, and a railroad on which I always hope to see the train roll by me. The openness and variety of the route make this part of Georgia one through which I always look forward to run. It makes my long run a lot more enjoyable.

These are just four pieces of our state that are among my favorites to run. There are many more out there for me to discover and enjoy. My running like this is a celebration of the beauty of our state and country. The landscape and the people make it what it is. America the beautiful. Georgia…like an old sweet song.

 

“We do not own land. But, we become part of the land when we cross it. A piece of the world becomes part of me when I run across it. And, I become a part of that piece of the world.”                                                                                                                                                                       Louis Tewanima

 

By: Richard Westbrook

 

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