Loup Garou Trail Runs
December 3, 2022
The Loup Garoup Trail Run was an event I was really hoping to do. For one, it had a large number of folks signed up for the various distances. For another, it's been too many years since I have run a race in Louisiana. And third, it was fairly close to where I posted up last--at my brother, Bryan's house in Albany, GA. Unfortunately, I knew before I pulled into Chicot State Park, I was gonna be a no-go for the run. So, I figured I'd hold a Runners' Church service before they kicked-off the hundred-miler, and volunteer wherever they could use me. These proved to be great decisions: to go, not to run, and to volunteer! RD Edie Aymond & her husband were super supportive and let me set up RC HQs within 40 feet of the Start/Loop Turnaround/Finish Line, and I so appreciated their support! Before service, I met Dan and his mom, mainly because Dan was sporting a "JESUS LOVES ME" T-shirt and, well, how can I not meet someone wearing such a great T? I had a great service and the believers were definately Spirit-led and all were encouraged, including me! I learned Dan was attempting his first 100M run at the young age of 26! Kid was built like Joe Palooka, but what a Spirit-filled mighty man of valor. We got a pic just before he the race started right in front of Runners' Church HQs. I told him if he needed anything during his race, to come to me--most likely, I have it. During the race, when the RDs didn't have something for me to do, I found something, like emptying the over-filled trash cans, or picking up trash and clearing off pavillion tables. It was a wonderful opportunity to serve (and even joke around). I told one group when I was picking up trash that it was just like Community Service, ony not Court-ordered! During some time fellowshipping with ___ (Dan's mom), I offered to pace Dan his last 20, or even 40 miles. My hamstring was not too painful and I figured I could go those last miles with him. (After all this was his first hundred!) But when Dan came in after his 3d 20-mile loop, he yells, "Where's the pull-up bar? I'm ready to knock out about 40 pull-ups!!!" (Dan was a former standout wrestler in high school and college!) Outwardly, I clapped, hooted, and hollered; inwardly, I was like "Uh-oh. What did I just commit to, Willis?" When he came in on his 4th--with 20 miles to go--he was just about as amped (mainly, he said, because he was just covered in Jesus Love running out there in the night), becuase he could see he had a shot at busting 24 hours (and get their coveted multi-colored sub-24 buckle)! I took off with him with his mother yelling, "RUN HIM HARD, MARK! RUN HIM HARD!" As I confessed to Dan later, his mom is the kind of stuff ultra legends are made of! Anyway, I didn't get much chance to warm-up that hammie and it was singin' to me after step 2! We were running a sub-9 pace to open, over rough, rooty trails in the night, and I was struggling to keep up. I told him later, if he'd have kept that pace for much longer, he was about to drop his pacer. I also had chronic light problems and that was irritating, too. Fortunately (for ME anyway), when we made it to the first aid station, Dan did the math and realized he couldn't beat 24. So, he said, let's just take this last 15 or so easy and enjoy the journey...which was really fine by me. And the journey was epic: footbridges through cypress swamps, fog with moonlight, and a beautiful (and timely for me as I was down to my last minutes of my back-up light) sunrise. Our conversations were awesome, too. I assert that we never really get to know someone as intimately as we do running together, at least not as quickly. Long runs strip us down and we bear our souls. (That's why so many running believers count runtime as their best prayer time! Yes & Amen!) Anyway, during this event, I was able to meet many folks I knew--like the indomitable Rene Villalobos and Gerry from Dallas-Ft. Worth, and Lydia Rios from my "hometown" of Manvel, TX. I also met many new, and was even blessed to share the gospel with a young, honestly searching, lady serving in the U.S. Air Force. I then connected her with an ardent believer (who I'd met there) also serving in the Air Force. After helping some with the tear-down and with getting my RC canopy broken down and secured, I spent another couple days camped, doing some running, some repairs, and lots of praying and meditating just how wonderful our God is. It was a beautiful end to a great Runners' Church year, 2022. And I was looking forward to getting to Texas to see my grandbaby, and my church family at the Church on Masters Road.
Dan just after he'd finished his first 100Miler!