Across the Years Races
December 3, 2022
The Across the Years Race was an event I have wanted to run for many years; it is iconic in the ultra world. It started in 1983 and has been held at a few different venues in and around the Phoenix, AZ area ever since. Put on now by Arivaipa Running, it is held at Camelback Ranch, the Spring training facilities for the MLB Chicago Cubs and the L.A. Dodgers in Glendale, AZ. After a long roadtrip from Manvel, TX, I arrived at Camelback on the afternoon of December 27th. I talked to RD, Jamil Courry who was super-nice and supportive and allowed me free range on where to set-up Runners' Church HQs. I set-up near the port-o-lets as runners would be coming around the corner 24-hours a day, and all in-comers would likekely pass by Runners' Church on their way each day to pick up their packet and/or start their race. I've added a dry-board to advertise the Runners' Church service time(s); I was going to hold a service every day 0825-0840 to be done in time for the daily 0845 prerace briefing 125 yards away at the Start/Finish mats/tent. For those who don't know, Across the Years hosts multiple timed events from the 6-Day to the 6-hour; they also host various distance races such as 100-miles, and even a "last person standing" event. I don't have any photos of the event because of some equipment failure (on my end), and I don't want to buy photos to post here. So, this will be a short summary. I did hold a worship service every day for the entire 6 or 7 mornings I was there. Runners' Church had as many as 6 or 7 one day, and as few as 1 (in addition to myself) on other days. The "one", Gary Cross, turned out to be one of the original ATY participants who, I learned from talking with him during our "days off", had just come back from a near-death experience. Gary was a good egg, and had one of the lowest numbers in the field. One of the unique things about the ATY is that your race number is assigned for life; therefore, every time you return to the ATY, you get your old number. Gary's is #16 I recall. What a legacy! But what was really cool was Gary's testimony, especially when he told me that while he was unconcious in a Tuscon hospital, they were asking Ian--a brother in Christ at his bedside--if he knew Gary's next-of-kin. At the exact same hour, a woman in Gary's church--with NO contact with the hospital or even knowing Gary's condition--interrupted the church service with the exclamation, "We need to pray for Gary NOW!" And they did, right then. And Gary inexplicably came back to life! Praise God!!! Another supernatural "answer to prayer" happened during the ATY. Rene and Lisamarie (the couple who renewed their vows before God at the Heartland 125/100 in October 2022) were also at the ATY running the 72-hour event, and at one of our Runners' Church services asked for specific prayer for Rene's U.S. visa approval, noting that his birth certificate was boogered up in Hong Kong, I suppose his birthplace even though he's Danish; so we prayed for supernatural favor that it would miraculously be approved. Some days later, Lisamarie was so utterly joyful that the power of prayer worked, and Rene's visa to remain in the U.S. was miraculously approved while we were all at the ATY. Is God awesome, or what? I ran the 48-hour (again), but was hampered by storms, forcing me to go lash everything down in advance of the storm, but DURING my race. I also suffered from diarhea, as well as a blister, and cold and wet, all of which kept me off the track for way too much time. Nonetheless, I tried to meet as many folks as I could and to encourage them and tell them about Runners' Church and what God's been doing through this ministry. Afterwords, I was trying to set my needle to prayerfully consider where Runners' Church was off to next. It ended up being to take Gary to Douglas, AZ (on the U.S.-Mexico border); and, what I thought was going to be a drop-and-roll to San Diego turned out to be nearly 10 days of mission work with Gary and Ian, et al. My takeways from the event were primarily that I never know how God is going to use me. I just have to remain faithful to my calling and to put my trust in the only One who provides, protects, guides, and "orders my steps". After getting some things done on the ole truck and my Runners' Church trailer in Douglas, I finally headed west to San Diego to spend some time with Will, an old college roommate. Unfortunately, we had a death in our "family" (my nephew's fiance was killed in a carcrash on her way from Wichita to college), and I came back to Wichita through two blizzards, but made it for the funeral to "weep with those who weep, and mourn with those who mourn". I am so thankful to God who used me in so very many ways that I certainly "never saw comin'", way too many to record here. But, I'll add this: Be thankful every day with who God's put in your life, and be open to serve the Lord with your whole heart. Yes & Amen!