Posts Tagged ‘marathon’

By John D. Thomas

Back in America’s physical fitness dark ages, before long-legged lopers like Frank Shorter and Bill Rogers inspired a distance-running frenzy, marathoners were seen as endorphin-addicted, masochistic kooks. Nowadays housewives and short-order cooks are common on the 26-mile, 385-yard circuit.

Today the kook factor is assigned to ultramarathon runners, true self-infliction aficionados who trot double, triple, 10 times, and even 100 times the marathon distance justfor the pain of it. Or, rather, just to see if they can cross the finish line alive.

Dr. David Martin, a professor of physiology at Georgia State who advised the designers of the Barcelona Olympics marathon course, says an ultramarathon is “more of a survival contest than a race. An Ultramarathoner’s focus is on finishing more than on competing. A race that long is a competition between you and the distance rather than you and your competitors.”

One such well-callused survivalists is Rich Schick, a physician’s assistant at Woodstock Hospital and the former coordinator of the Atlanta Track Club’s ultramarathon team. Schick, 43, ran his first ultra marathon, a 100K race in Switzerland, in the late 1970s after having run close to 100 marathons. He has completed some 60 of the grueling ultra treks.

“One of the things I like is that there is so much variety in the sport,” says Schick. “You can have road events, track events, and trail events, which we call adventure runs. In those events you can race anywhere from the lowest point in the United States, in Deadwater, California, to the top of Mount Whitney as a continuous run, or across the Sahara Desert, or you can go up the Himalayas. No matter where you get in your conditioning, you can always get your guts up to try something bigger.”

Schick says he trains between 60-70 miles a week, which includes one extra long week- end run. “Thirty to 31 miles of that is usually done on Saturday or Sunday,” says Schick. He does his long runs on the trails around Kennesaw Mountain, and says he is happy to have aspiring ultramarathoners tag along, as long as they can hack the distance. “On those runs the person has to have a certain amount of training,” says Schick. “I don’t mind going slower than my normal pace, but I have to have the feeling the person can do the distance safely. If a couple of people wanted to give it a try, the way Kennesaw Mountain is laid out they could drop cars off at a couple of different places so if they burned out they could bail out.”

Dr. Martin says anyone thinking about tackling an ultramarathon should do it gradually. “l think just as a good coach counsels younger runners who are moving up from the high school mile to the 5K or 10K in college not to try a marathon until they’re out of college, I think the same thing applies to someone contemplating an ultramarathon,” he says. “If you find 10K races are too fast for you, but you find it easy to run longer distances, try l marathon. If you find you can finish marathons with no problem but you have trouble trying to run them quickly, then jump into an ultramarathon.

The only local ultramarathon is the Stone Mountain 50-miler, which takes place in January.

             Richard Westbrook, ran the length of the Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada (NV) consisting of State Road 375.  It starts on US 6 going east out of Tonapah, NV at Warm Springs, NV. The ET Highway ends at US 93 north of Las Vegas. The entire route is 100 miles of ET Highway. et-highway-and-area-51

along State Road 375, ET Hwy

along State Road 375, ET Hwy

Sites to take in along the way include the black (now white) mailbox as the only indication of Area 51 along the ET Hwy. In the town of Rachel, NV there is the infamous Ale-Inn where many people come to stay and try to spot some UFOs.

mailbox for Area 51

mailbox for Area 51

AleInn in Rachel, NV

AleInn in Rachel, NV

Richard claims to have seen nothing out of the ordinary, but who knows if he would really tell. I guess 100 miles is not enough distance to him for delirium to set in either.

The route ran on the Extraterrestrial Highway

The route ran on the Extraterrestrial Highway

“We have no proof, But if we extrapolate, based on the best information we have available to us, we have to come to the conclusion that … other life probably exists out there and perhaps in many places…”

                           Neil Armstrong, Oct 21, 1999

Season Westbrook

            Our society is inundated with waves of endless repertory concerning the philosophical leanings of the individual.  This takes the form of political tangents in that the individual is constantly being recruited to be on the right or the left of our political landscape.  We hear this from the radio talk shows; the TV talk shows; articles in the newspapers, magazines, on the internet.  It is even subtlety interwoven in movies and TV shows.  We hear the topic in conversation at the workplace.  We hear it at sporting events.  It is everywhere.  If you aren’t aware of this, you aren’t aware…or…

            Enter the runner.  Enter this individual who puts constant forward locomotion in a priority position in his or her lifestyle.  Enter this person who is concerned with basic principles of life that will help his or her running, and, in turn, the running will help the quality of life of the individual.

            A broad, sweeping picture of the runner will include a concern of one’s health.  It will include a concern for the environment.  Seeing a need for discipline in our society will be a real factor for the survival of the desired society.  Education at various levels will be of prime importance.  Patriotism at ebbing levels of intensity will be a basic characteristic.  Freedom will be a basic right, and this freedom will invade all areas of the chosen lifestyle.  Integrity will be bonding cement holding the individual to a high standard.  Courage to be true to his or her beliefs, culture, religion, or lack of religion will be a basic aspect of philosophy.  All this blends to make the runner happy in his or her lifestyle.  Happiness is recognized as a pursuit of life.

            All these strokes in the runner’s picture will be glazed with the approach to the running.  It will affect all the aforementioned items.  Some will be affected in a highly obvious manner; some will be very subtle.  But, all will be very real.

            A clear example would be in the runner’s training method for racing.  The runner has quickly learned that the racing returns will equal the level of training.  There is no way around it.  It is education, discipline, and integrity all wrapped up in one pursuit…that of training to race better.  If the runner slacks off, the racing improvement will be less or non-existent.

            Operating in a systemic fashion has made it possible to evolve into the present human animal.  Our being depends on how well our systems work.  Our systems, such as the circulatory and respiratory, make our life with its movement possible.  All our systems are integrated to give us a certain quality of life.  Indeed, the better the systems, the higher the quality of life.  A true runner recognizes this as basic to happiness.

            So, how does the runner assimilate the barrage of philosophical and political information coming his way?  What does the runner think about the threat of terrorism to our nation?  Do the impending health care parameters set by the federal government interfere with the runner’s idea of freedom?  Is the whole idea of health care in opposition to self-discipline?  Where does the level of responsibility lie for care of the environment?  Are our economic woes wrapped up in the lack of integrity on governmental and corporate levels?  Is it integrated with the individual?  Do we have a problem in this country with the lack of morals?  Is political correctness a plague?  Is our educational system suffering because of non-teachers setting the parameters of success?

            The runners may or may not think of these questions.  Like any other citizen, it will depend upon his or her level of involvement and awareness.  A particular runner may be a non-political person.  But, some of the questions will infiltrate into the lifestyle of any runner.  Then, the runner’s thinking must gel into an identifiable philosophy in that particular area.  That runner will be influenced by his or her running at that point.  I find it true, as others have, that our running is influenced by everything we do and think…and, everything we do and think is influenced by our running.  It is a case of “If A equals B, then B must equal A.”

            I know and talk to some running friends and acquaintances and find that they are fairly common and consistent in their basic philosophy concerning the previous questions.  There is room for differences which is refreshing and logical in that we are dealing with free thinking humans.  But, my sample is a very small portion of the running population.  I wonder what a larger portion would think about these things.

            Ask yourself how you feel about the questions.  What is your basic philosophy in dealing with society’s questions?  Then, dig deeper into your mind and investigate how your running influences your answers…and vice versa.  I’ve done this and have come up with different answers at different times in various situations.  Why?  I’m still trying to figure that one out.

            Let me know – if you will – what you find out in your personal investigation.  It may be interesting for you, as it was for me, to discover the connection between your running and your beliefs, attitudes, and philosophy be it in the personal or political arena.  And, if you are a young runner and all the questions may not apply to you at present, then think about those that do apply.  But, know this, you are on your way to formulating your philosophy concerning all the ideas.  Think about how you, as a running human, will be affected by your running.  It will be interesting.

            You can let me know any results of your thinking by leaving a comment.

All men by nature desire to know.”


 Richard Westbrook

            This is a look into some books that are running related.  The relationship may seem like a stretch at times, but it is there.  That may include tapping into the psyche of running and not just the obvious physical aspect.  But, as most serious runners know, our running is affected in one way or another by everything we perceive.  Reading helps us to broaden that perception.

BOOK:  My Life On The Run, The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon

AUTHOR: Bart Yasso

PUBLISHER: Rodale, 2008


            The author, Bart Yasso, is the Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World magazine…Whatever a Chief Running Officer is.  As the dust cover leaf states, Yasso has competed in more than 1000 races, triathlons, biathlons, and eco-challenges over the past 28 years.  He was inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions.  He has also been called the “Mayor of Running”…Whatever.

            I met Bart when I was running the 1992 Runner’s World TransAmerica Footrace.  He was sent out west by Runner’s World to quiet the rebellious runners who seemed to think their running was what the race was all about.  After his ranting, raving, and threats, we continued doing things our way with no problems.  Bart was replaced with a more sane liaison.

            But, Bart did write an interesting book about his various running adventures.  Most of these were initiated by Runner’s World sending him to differing races in order to report on them for the magazine.  That sounds pretty sweet, going to races with all expenses paid, and Bart readily recognizes this fact.

            The book is easily read and is entertaining.  It is not just a compilation of races in which he competed.  It gives good descriptions of the background of the races.  Personalities are described when they are important to the character of the events. 

            Bart’s racing adventure takes him to far off places like Antarctica, Africa, and Nepal.  He recommends marathons that should give the reader the best and most enjoyable experiences.  This is intertwined with the stories of his travels to and from the events.

            He, also, relates health problems that hampered his adventures.  This was complicated by his location being out of the USA.  Medical treatment could get suspect when you get away from our medical system.  The reader can appreciate Yasso’s determination in completing assignment under these conditons.

            Just as the reader is immersed in the stories, Yasso changes gears and starts telling the reader the more practical aspects of such runs.  This leads to training program for 5-K’s up to marathons.  The programs tend to be on the easier side of training as typical for the parent publication, Runner’s World Magazine.

            I liked the book, especially the accounts of the races.  The pictures of the sites and of Bart through the years add to the enjoyment of the book.  An overriding message from the book is that each of us can find adventure in our running and races just may be the best source.

            That’s well worth the read.   

  Richard Westbrook


“I had taken running for granted or at least put too much emphasis on the wrong things.  I had never won a race of the mythical 26.2-mile distance, and at age 43, I probably never would.  It was time to appreciate the sweaty exertion for what it was – an affirmation of life.”

                                                                                                               Bart Yasso

          This is a look into some books that are running related.  The relationship may seem like a stretch at times, but it is there.  That may include tapping into the psyche of running and not just the obvious physical aspect.  But, as most serious runners know, our running is affected in one way or another by everything we perceive.  Reading helps us to broaden that perception.

BOOK:  Born to Run, A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

AUTHOR: Christopher McDougall

PUBLISHER: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009  

          Born to Run is an incredible book.  It doesn’t matter if you are a serious runner or a couch potato.  It doesn’t matter if you like mysteries or adventure.  It doesn’t matter if you as a runner are interested in training or injury prevention or running for fun or fitness.

        This book encompasses all the above and more.  It is one of my favorite books.  I’m an avid reader who reads a lot of different genres.  I like fiction and non-fiction.  I read a lot on running.  I read classics.  I read mysteries.  I read adventure.  I read westerns.  I read philosophy and religion.  I read science.  I read geography.  I read travel. I read biography.  I read history.  I read sports.

          Some of my favorite books are The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour; The Spirit of St. Louis by Charles A. Lindbergh; Once A Runner by John L. Parker Jr.; Bunion Derby by Charles B. Kastner, and others.  Now, added to that list is Born to RunIt fits nicely into the list ranking very high.

          The book takes us from Colorado to Mexico and some other related sites along the way.  We meet interesting characters.  The characters are so varied that we can see ourselves in there somewhere.  The great thing is that the characters are real, but as we read the book, we would swear that these characters are made-up for the story.

           Therein lays the allure.  Born to Run reads like a novel, one that is both a mystery and adventure story.  It is biographical, historical, and scientific.  The characters engage us.  We want to read the next page to see what happens to them.  It is the story of the land, people, philosophy, and running.  For what more could you ask?

            The author, Christopher McDougall, is a runner himself, so he writes with a sincere interest.  That interest is made evident in the beginning of the book.  In his search for answers on some running problems, he finds out that a lot of conventional wisdom is misplaced.  Through his search, he learns.  We learn along with him.

          The mysterious Caballo Blanco is the catalyst that takes us into the Copper Canyon region of Mexico.  That is where the Tarahumara Indians live and run.  The Tarahumaras are linked with an elite ultrarunner, surfers, and barefoot running.  The story leads to the epochal point of a race in its truest form.

          The race is not one of the glitzy, corporate sponsored events we are familiar with in this country.  It is almost a “secret” event.  You will remember the race and the setting long after you read the account.  You will identify with the runners in the race.  McDougall paints a startling picture in which our mind will be engaged with the vision, smell, and heart-pounding feeling of the sites both there and here.

          The book would go on your bookshelf with the books on ultrarunning.  But, it is so much more.  Delving into lifestyles, it gives the reader a glimpse into differing philosophies.  This ranges from the “why” of running to the importance of life.

          Telling you too much about the specifics of the book and the story would give too much away.  It is better to explore the story like one would explore a new running route.  After starting the book, the runner will want to run more because of learning what can be done and what the human potential can be.

          Read Born to Run, and you will become a better runner.  You will share experiences you never thought possible.  You will understand Kuira-ba…We are all one.

 Richard Westbrook

                                                “The best runner leaves no tracks.”

                                                                                      Tao Te Ching


            I have run through Georgia’s Whitfield County two times.  The first time was following U.S. 41 highway through the county in my third run across Georgia, this one via U.S. 41 through the state, north to south, Tennessee to Florida.  The second time was this last one of running the length of the county in my quest to run across all of Georgia’s 159 counties.  The previous Whitfield County crossing on the state run on U.S. 41 was not the long way across the county, so that required me to run another crossing, making it the long run across.

            My Georgia County Quest is now at 71 counties completed.  That leaves 88 counties to go now that Whitfield County is on the completion list.  A string of counties was completed in my first run through the western side of the state along U.S. 27 coming out of Chattanooga, Tennessee and leading into Florida toward Tallahassee.  I had a crew on that run, one crew on the northern part and a different crew for the southern part.  Being the first run through the state, I learned a lot from that run.  As they say, “Experience is the best teacher.”

            I learned basic lessons.  Controlling my mental disposition was paramount, and I learned that early in the run.  Surviving the heat and humidity provided many lessons that were learned the hard way.  Fueling was learned by trial-and-error.  But, I made it.  Lessons were learned.  And, that led me to the second run through the state.

            The second run that completed another string of counties on the eastern side of the state followed U.S. 441 from North Carolina to Florida.  This run was a solo run with no crew.  Being unsupported, it provided me with a different set of lessons that were learned through experience.

            The third run through the state was more or less through the middle along U.S. 41 from Tennessee to Florida.  The southern part of this run was supported.  The  northern part had a highlight (or lowlight) with my escape from death though a blocked windpipe from lodged electrolyte capsules blocking my air.  I couldn’t breathe.  I had no fluid to wash the capsules down.  I was trying to figure out what to do.  I was in a rural area north of Cartersville with no houses around and no cars in sight on the road.  After five minutes, I decided to stay near the road so my body would be seen after I had passed out and collapsed.

            Then, I heard voices.  Walking on down the road toward the voices, I saw some workers cutting bush from a bridge.  I couldn’t scream at them…no air.  I just walked toward them, waving and placing my hands at my throat giving them the “choking” sign.  Eventually, one looked my way.  Then, they both ran to me for rescue.  Fortunately, the younger one knew and administered the Heimlich maneuver.  I felt the capsule dislodge and oxygen rush into my lungs.  It had been almost six minutes of blocked air.  My biggest surprise was how calm I stayed during the whole ordeal. After that, the rest of the run was a breeze…just in one of the hottest summer on record for Georgia.

            Those runs plus sporadic counties that I have run on weekends have gradually added to my county total.  My coaching in the fall with cross-country and in the spring with track cuts down on the time I have had available to travel to and run far reaching counties.  Usually, I would have to have someone drop me off and then pick me up once I have finished a particular county.  A lot of times, no one is available for the drop-off and pick-up.  Their schedule does not fit mine.  (I can’t really understand why they don’t change their schedule and sacrifice sleeping time to take me for a drop-off for my usual early start…Oh, well.)

along Cleveland Hwy., north of Dalton

along Cleveland Hwy., north of Dalton

            Fortunately, my daughter, Season, was up to the task to take me to the Georgia-Tennessee state line in Whitfield County.  I drove up while she slept.  She dropped me off for the 6:00 a.m. start, which means we left the residence in Trion, Georgia about 5:00 a.m.  We drove up the Old Alabama Highway north of Trion and turned on State Road 136 leading through Villanow.  Turning north off of SR 136 lead us into Dalton and then to the state and county line.  Twisting and turning through Dalton, my instructions to Season were to make sure she knew where to turn to find her way back to SR 136 and then to Trion.

north of Dalton

north of Dalton

           I should have listened to my own advice.  After easy directional running south on SR 71, Cleveland Highway, and running through some new towns (to add to my “Running Site List”), I entered the Whitfield County seat, Dalton.  The terrain leveled off from the rolling hills north of town. In the north part of town , I ran by some old carpet mill buildings that seemed to be closed up or relocated.  This stretch also had a preponderance of Mexican businesses and a lot of Mexican billboards that I could not read.  I kept a sharp eye out for street signs and highway signs so I could find my way through town.  I thought of Season and wondered if she made it through with no trouble.

            Somewhere in this town, I knew I had to turn right on Walnut Avenue and then look for a left turn on U.S. 41, South Dixie Highway.  Several times, I had mentioned these turns to Season so she would not get lost on her return trip.  Again, I should have listened to myself.

entering Dalton from North

entering Dalton from North

Before I knew it, I was running out the western side of Dalton, having missed the left turn on South Dixie Highway, U.S. 41.  When I ran up on the I-75 junction sign, I knew then that I had messed up.  Just to be sure, I asked the guy at the counter in a garage where South Dixie Highway was, and he gave the answer I did not want.  He told me it was, “Five lights back that way…two miles back.”  That means that I just ran two miles out of the way and would have to run that same two miles back to the turn.  Once back at the turn, I thought, “How could have been so blind or stupid or both to miss such an obvious turn?”  Then some frustrated anger set in when I remembered missing a turn in my last run through the state coming into Dalton on U.S. 41.  That resulted in running four miles out of the way even though I did not have to back track.

            So, two times running through Dalton resulted in me missing turns both times.  Each time resulted in a four-mile addition.  Two times Dalton equals eight miles the wrong way.

            Once my mind cleared the wrong way mistake, I was cruising along South Dixie Highway south of Dalton.  I ran past a yard sale.  I ran past another yard sale.  Then, I ran past another yard sale.  Then, the yard sales started to look like one big yard sale because they were side by side.  That’s when I remembered that this was the section of U.S. 41 that was dubbed the country’s largest yard sale…And this wasn’t even the time of year for the big weekends.

South Dixie Hwy near Carbondale Road

South Dixie Hwy near Carbondale Road

            I was back running over rolling terrain but nearing the southern end of Whitfield County.  I turned off of South Dixie Highway onto Carbondale Road and would run out of the county and into Hill City in Gordon County.  That was the plan.  But, the rain came.  I felt some light rain and kept running.  The light rain became a heavy downpour.  I looked for shelter and saw a church ahead.  I looked for a pavilion in the back but only found a cemetery.  That left me getting out of the rain under the small overhang at the church’s front door.  I took off my backpack and sat down to wait out the heavy rain.  The wind started blowing the rain up under the overhang, so I picked up the heavy floor mat at the front door and draped it over me to ward off the blowing rain.  It worked well.  I stayed dry and out of the wind.  A pleasing sidelight here was the car that stopped and two young girls got out and came over to offer me a blanket to keep warm…saying that they saw me here when they passed by a few minutes ago.  That’s the kind of people you meet out there in the real USA.

            I determined that if I had not gone four miles in the wrong direction, I would have finished the run at the county line and then into Hill City before the rains came.  But, the rains came, and I waited.  Then, when I thought the rain had stopped long enough for me to finish, I got back on the road.  I immediately started down a big hill where the Georgia Highway Patrol was monitoring traffic because of a car having slammed into a tree, probably sliding out of control in the curve because of the rain.

            Just crossing the county line, I saw Season and Nick, my nephew, driving up.  They told me I had less than a mile to get to the depot in Hill City. That was good news.  Hopefully, the rain would hold off until I got there.  It did.

            My distance for Whitfield County was 31.70 miles because of the additional four miles.  The total mileage for the run was 33.82 miles finishing in Hill City in Gordon County.  One more county completed.  Eighty-eight counties to go.

            But, Who’s counting?

                                                                                                                                              Richard Westbrook


The long runs on the weekend are a genuine adventure for me—a physical challenge in an otherwise mostly cerebral, abstract sort of daily life. And, you don’t have to go to a mountain or anything. It starts right out the front door of your home.”

                                                                                                                                               John Walker,

                                                                                                                                              Runner and Journalist   


Or, The Last Annual Vol State Road Race 2012

            It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the summer of hope, it was the summer of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct to Hell – in short, the period was that of extremes, highs and lows with some moderates.  In comparison, each runner experienced his or her esoteric learnings brought to the surface by the monumental task of the Vol State Road Race in the month of July in the year of 2012.

            Thus, the paraphrasing of the opening lines of the classic, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens.  The book was written of other things and other times.  But, the often quoted opening lines apply to the Vol State Road Race 2012 just like the bonding of the Vol State to thirst and fulfillment, joy and anger, pain and euphoria, loneliness and camaraderie, hunger and satiety, staleness and excitement, stubbornness and anxiety, complacency and spirituality, doubt and confidence, patience and impulsiveness…and, maybe, a little insanity mixed in to what we think is normalcy.  Each runner in the 2012 event can relate to many of the aforementioned qualities.  Now, that it is over, more questions may arise.  But, more importantly, more answers may have been found.  Therein lies the real truth of the long run…discovery.  Each finisher is not the same person as he or she was at the start.  Each of us is someone different.  Only the runner can know to what extent.

            The journey of the mind and body began by running off the ferry in Hickman, Kentucky.  In a race where anything can be expected, the start was the start of great unexpectations.  The ferry was grounded which prevented the crossing over and back on the Mississippi.  Instead of starting in Missouri, we adapted and started on the ferry deck and ran into Hickman.  Gary Cantrell modified the time in order to equate with past Vol States, equality being the key.  Each runner’s mind was working to adapt to the run and apply one’s biology to the mileage, duration, terrain, and environment ahead.  Problems were to be predicted and, hopefully, solved.  If not solved, the runner would suffer.  The amount of suffering would change over the 314-mile distance lying before us toward the southeast.


In the midst of regular life, running is the touchstone that breathes adventure into my soul. I can feel the trail under my feet, the press of the hill, the gallop of the track, the burn of my lungs, the stir of wonder and possibility. Running reminds me that there is more to me than what is readily apparent much of the time. I don’t always need to see it. But, Oh, how I need to know it’s there. Like having an alter ego, or a super-cool super-hero identity.”

                                                                                                    Kristin Armstrong, Author and Runner



            I ran easily, slowly up the small rise leading into Hickman.  I glanced around feeling like the rookie that I was in this event.  Most were walking.  Did they know more than I did?  Obviously, since most had run this before.  Still, I ran up the small hills talking to some of the others that were running.  Two guys were taking it out.  Not me. 

            The hills got severe in old Hickman until we were at a high point overlooking the ferry and the course behind us.  I stopped to take a photo and to breathe.  My mind was doubtful about what was out there ahead of me.  I did feel good about my pack and its non-obtrusive presence that marked me as part of the solo or “unscrewed” division…as were most of us in this parade.  But, that did not sway the malignant doubt and anxiety about the immediate future.


image001A hardy group of adventurers on the ferry to start the Vol State 2012.


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…


An article from The New York Times about the 1992 TransAmerica Footrace.

RUNNING; After 2,935.8 Miles, Warady Is First to Finish Line

Published: August 23, 1992

Looking every bit as fresh as someone who had just run 2,935.8 miles in 64 eight-hour days, 35-year-old David Warady breezed into Central Park yesterday morning to claim victory in the first Tour de Tired, or, to use its offical name, the Runner’s World Trans America Footrace.

Warady, one of 28 ultramarathoners who left Huntington Beach, Calif., just south of Los Angeles, on June 20, was one of 13 survivors who made it to the finish line at Columbus Circle after traversing 13 states in stages ranging from 30 to 60 miles, in conditions that included temperatures of 120 degrees and mountainous climbs at 12,000 feet.

“I feel great,” said Warady, whose time of 521 hours 35 minutes 57 seconds (21 days 18 hours) became the foundation record for what the organizer, the Ultra Marathon Runners Association, and the chief sponsor, Runner’s World magazine, hope to make an annual event. Kept a Steady Pace

Warady, a computer programmer from Huntington Beach, won only 10 of the race’s 64 stages, but his steadiness had built up such a lead that his victory had long been virtually assured. He coasted through the last stages of the event, finishing almost 6 hours ahead of his nearest competitor, 32-year-old Milan Milanovic of Switzerland (527:16:21), who won 14 stages.

The race’s youngest competitor, Tom Rogozinski, 22, of Pittsburgh, who led the race for six days in Kansas and Missouri before developing a stress fracture and who led the field with 16 stage victories, was third (528:48:54). Richard Westbrook, 45, of Jonesboro, Ga., was fourth (537:33:04).

The Trans America was the nation’s first coast-to-coast race in more than 60 years, and among those who gathered to greet the finishers was 85-year-old Harry Abrams, the only survivor from the immediate predecessors, the 1928 Bunyon Derby from California to New York and the New York-to-California derby in 1929.

“This is the very spot where we began the 1929 race,” said Abrams, who did not fail to tell Warady of his own peak achievement: running 70 miles in 10 hours, an average of 7 miles an hour. By contrast, Warady averaged 5.6 miles an hour over the entire race.

Based on pre-race expectations, the victory by Warady, whose longest previous run had been 300 miles in a six-day race, was something of a surprise.

In part, Warady’s victory reflected a series of successive disasters that struck other competitors, including the pre-race favorite, 46-year-old Al Howie, a Scottish-born resident of Canada who had set a record in a trans-Canada run in 1991. Howie was forced out of the race after seven days when he developed severe blisters running through the Mojave Desert.

Warady’s main advantage, however, was his own meticulous preparation and the exclusive services of his own full-time crew: his wife, Kelly Babiak, who quit her job so she could accompany her husband in a minivan, providing him with liquids at three-mile intervals and with peanut butter and banana sandwiches two or three times a day.

While the other runners slept in sleeping bags and on cots in churches, community centers and the like — at one point camping out in the open beside a Utah highway for two successive nights — Warady stayed with his wife in the comfort of motels.

Thank you to The Atlanta Journal and Constitution: Image (original article)

David Warady //

I will personally attest to Tom’s toughness. Without a doubt, in my 20 years of racing, Tom Rogozinski and Richard Westbrook (4th in TA) were the toughest runners I’ve ever competed against.   Rogo’s 8hr, 59 mile stage, might be the most incredible individual effort in the 1992 TransAmerica race.

By Jan Westbrook

On Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 6:10 AM, 105 people began the grueling 100 mile race, the Keys 100. There was also a 100 mile relay which began 10 minutes earlier, and a 50 mile race which began at the 50 mile marker.  The race began in beautiful Key Largo, Florida, and continued down Highway 1 through the Keys, to the finish in Key West. Among those beginning the individual race was Richard Westbrook, 1965 graduate of Trion High School.

There was a meeting the night before to go over rules, give maps, chips to be worn for check-in points, and signs for cars. The crew cars had to have caution signs, the runners name and number on the car. Richard’s crew was his wife, Jan, daughter Season, and nephew Nick. The crew followed him, stopping every two miles to give fluids. The runners had to wear reflective vests and flashing lights front and back while running through the night. Just as darkness came, the runners had to cross the 7 mile bridge, where no crew could get to them. They lost a few more runners at the bridge.

The heat was a major factor in the race. 90+ degree heat during the day, with very little shade anywhere caused problems for many of the runners. Richard’s crew kept ice in a pack around his neck, and his visor dipped in ice water all through the afternoon. His crew helped other runners along the way with ice and fluids and even sun screen, which was an essential for runners and crews.

Early Sunday morning, as the sun came up and the heat began to rise, runners and crews were anxiously looking for that “Welcome to Key West” sign, and what a welcome site it was. That gave them the strength to go on, knowing it was almost over. Mileage signs started at 100 in Key Largo, and counted down to 0 in Key West. As those signs got small, the excitement grew, 5 miles, 4, and on to the finish.

Out of the 105 who began the race, 67 finished. Richard was 35th overall in a time of 26 hrs., 54 minutes. He won his age group of 65 & over, and his winning time beat the winning time of age group winners 45 and up. The finish was on Higgs Beach in Key West, and Richard hit the water when he finished on Sunday morning. His wife, Jan, was very proud of him. Her comment: “He’s my hero”!

Richard is a competitive ultra-marathoner, competing in races 50 miles and up. Last summer, he finished 6th in a 500 K race (311 miles), the Vol State Ultra. That took him 5-1/2 days. He ran that with no crew; all he could have was what he could carry on his back.

He has not missed a day running in 38 years, and will be competing in other ultra-races in the future. He teaches and coaches cross-country and track in Henry County, Ga. Richard and Jan have 4 children and 7 grandchildren.