Race Reports , Comments, and So On
Rich Lamicher Running Bear Mike Davis
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Dear Mr. Bisnette et al.,

Thank you so much for the opportunity to run your race this weekend. As advertised, it was an ideal first 50 mile run. In fact, all of the information on the website and Facebook was very accurate. The course was perfect with just enough hills to keep it interesting but not too much to be intimidating. Similarly, just enough mud to make it feel like you're accomplishing something but not too overwhelming. I hope to return in a year with deeper standing water to get the full experience. All of this "character building" was tempered by a comfortable place to set up a drop bag to visit on each loop.

I wanted to apologize for being disrespectful and missing the start of the race. I left with plenty of time from Hattiesburg, but for the life of me I couldn't see Forest Road 270 in the dark. The directions on the website were excellent, but I had to backtrack to Richton, figure out how to set the trip odometer in my rental car, and then follow the directions more precisely before I could see it. It was much clearer once the sun was up…and the race had started.

To be honest, although I felt like a jerk for showing up late, it was kind of fun to have the chance to run through so much of the course alone. Giving everybody a half-hour head start allowed me plenty of solitude towards the beginning of the run. Also, even when I caught up to people, I tended to pass them fairly quickly for at least the first half, so even more time to enjoy being alone in the woods.

Regardless, I appreciate you allowing me to start late without a hassle. Further, I was pleased/embarrassed to see the acknowledgement of my late start on the results page (#434). Thanks! Once again, I apologize that my mediocre finish time has to clutter up your results page.

After all of the years of this race, I assume that you know that it's great, but I couldn't resist reminding you. Thanks again for the wonderful race!

Michael Davis, Ph.D.
Georgia Tech Research Institute


by Rich "The Troubadour" Limacher

Back in my day, we had Bob Dylan. I think he started out as some kind of Yankee (possibly Damn) from Minnesota, but doubtless ended up in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. In his equally nowadays unknown Subterranean Homesick Blues, he sings this lyric: "Twenty years of schoolin' and they put you on the day shift."

[Ever your pseudo-scholar, I've footnoted it here: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bobdylan/subterraneanhomesickblues.html. See the last stanza.]

If you're searching for relevance, you won't find any. Or maybe there's this: I have now run your usually soggy Mississlippery footrace for 20 years. (Hubba hubba. Yay me-and two other guys.) So there's been three of us who've run this thing (or some version thereof) for not only two decades, but also two decades in a row! Except for 2006 and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when the race was cancelled.

So. That's almost 20 consecutive years, almost from March of 1996 to March of 2016, and almost 20 completions of the 20 distances I signed up for. But as I've told countless others over the centuries, "Mississippi is the only race I know where a finish isn't guaranteed, not even by the people who put on the race!" Indeed, it's the only known race that's ever been "called on account of rain" twice!!

But I get ahead of myself. This is supposed to be a grand, perhaps subliminal, retrospective of one lone runner (perhaps crawler) over the course of the past score years. I just wish I could remember them.

In 1996 the very man we memorialize, Dr. Carl Touchstone, was alive and well and putting on an ultramarathon in the middle of the Mississippi woods. (Its predecessor was a road race, consisting of many loops run on pavement around some MS town I've never been to.) This was now woods indeed: deep in the middle of the DeSoto National Forest, where Robin Hood and his Band of Merry Men gave me the idea of coming from the Middle Ages. I think. Hence my e-mail "handle." Well, it probably wasn't Robin Hood. It was probably the Sheriff of… Cook County, Illinois. I developed my e-address because nobody knows how to spell "troubadour" and you cannot believe how much this has cut down on my SPAM. Plus the Sheriff hasn't been able to find me either, in order to serve a summons. But I digress.

Carl, who fast became my great friend in this brave new whirled called "ultrarunning," just so happened to hold his first woodsy footrace right smack on my birthday. And for my being from the Middle Ages and born some 800 years previous, that took some research! But Carl did it. So of course I showed up-and wham: his dear wife Wanda even brought a birthday cake to the race. Heck, they sang to me after I finished! No one's ever done that! Never before nor since. (At a race, I mean.) So, it was evening and morning The First Year.

On the Second Year, our Carl staged another race in the woods, and I similarly attended. And during those early years of creation, I actually did manage to finish 50 miles. Our Carl wasn't overly impressed, though. When I looked up his running records, his times beat my times by hours! But Carl was also good friends with Norm and Helen Klein, who put on (perhaps the most famous ultra of all) the Western States 100-Miler, and so I managed to run that that year as well. Hubba-hubba. Yay me. None of those folks were impressed.

On the Third-thru-I-don't-know-how-many-years, Carl and his race experienced something which to me was very unusual: monsoons. The rains fell so hard and heavy that, yes, "the good Lord wasn't willing and the creek did rise"-practically over my head! So the good rangers of the National Forest came and called off the race-during the middle of the race! They didn't want any drownings, they said. Thus Carl couldn't let me finish the 50-miler, but he did allow me to run the "little loop" (at that time it was called "The Dog Loop") and so finish the 50K. I remember being disappointed. It was my slowest 50K ever. Today? OMG I'd take that time in a heartbeat!

Sadly, waaaay before his time and way before the race blossomed into what it's become today ["What's it become today, Rich?" I have no idea. But it's good!] Carl succumbed to a horrible cancer. I was devastated. We all were. But then Steve DeReamer stepped up and directed the race and so it became The Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi Trails 50/50 (and later the /20 was added). Oh yes, and there's a picture (somewhere on this website) of Steve himself somewhere at Western States at some time in his life, also obviously influenced by Carl, if not by Norm and Helen, to suffer through 100 miles. Maybe he figured race directing a distance half that size wouldn't amount to double the work.

But certainly it does require that. And Steve hung on as long as he could until Dennis Bisnette has now taken over (and done a superb job!) currently memorializing our friend Carl year after year, which is why I keep showing up. (By the way, the good Rangers of the National Forest also "called the race" once during Steve's tenure as well. That's twice. "On account of rain." Who knew? Baseball gets called on account of rain, not footraces!)

I have other memories as well, except I'm too old to remember them. Oh wait. Once those Mississippi Monsoons were so severe, the trails became rivers (all underwater!) and the mud was so much like quicksand that it actually succeeded in sucking my sole off. No, not the shoe-the sole! It severed right off the shoe! Can you imagine? Fortunately it happened not too far from my parked rental car, and I was able to change into a spare pair that luckily I'd prophesied enough to bring along. My race was saved, and my unbroken "streak" remained unbroken. Over the years, Carl has looked out for sad sinners like me.

What else? Oh, all those highly entertaining trailside signs! Wow. Like Burma-Shave. (See my previous year's report.) This year, Bubba's Filling Station boasted similar signs, and so I asked them: "What in the world is Pee's Cornbread?" Bubba's volunteers laughed and offered to sprinkle me some… but I declined. Which reminds me of another sign: something to the effect that the Ancient Romans used their urine for toothpaste. (Gag!) Where do they get these tidbits? These highly suspect factoids? Another one said, "There are 177,147 different ways to tie a tie." It took awhile to commit that to memory. I'm currently trying to disprove that number.

Oh, one last thing (and this is about Carl and why I've missed him so much over all these years): The very first year that "parking tags" were issued by the National Forest, some of us didn't know what to do with them. At the pre-race banquet, I remember Carl saying that those new fees had all been paid (as they continue still to be paid) out of our entry fees. So when I showed up on race morning, and (I'm such a dufus) decided just then to rummage around my pre-race packet and find the parking tag, I bring it to Carl at the check-in table and ask: "What do I do with this, Carl?"

Without missing a beat, he takes it out of my hand, balls it up, and pitches it into the nearest trash barrel. "That's what you do with it," he says. "Your parking has already been paid."

You can't beat a guy like that, which is why I keep returning in my own feeble attempt to keep his memory alive. I just, you know, keep showing up and watching my race times go further and further into the trash. I'm pretty sure Carl isn't honored by that.

Nevertheless, the first thing that happened after 20 years when I and the other "perfect attendees," Harry Strohm and Bob Wilkerson, showed up for the banquet was: Dennis had us gather 'round and then told us, "You don't have to pay anymore." Hey, sweet! And thanks!!

So what this maybe means is that for the rest of our muddy earthly lives, we get to run those lovely, soggy, and often underwater Mississlippery Trails for free. And no matter what, those three different-distance races always take place between 6 AM and 6 PM. Or, in other words: "20 years of runnin' and they give you the day shift."

But of course your results may vary (YRMV), so don't quote me on this.

[End of memory]


Bears do it in the woods. Even when it's too cold, or too hot, and they could care less if it's too wet.

Hope everyone had a great pre-race supper and race day. The temp was a little cool at the start but soon turned into a perfect day for a nice run in the woods.

Once again we had a great group of runners, plus Rich Limacher come to our run. We had a good crowd despite a lot of new races competeting with ours this year.

Many, many thanks to everyone who registered, ran, watched, or commented on the race. Trail runners have to be the nicest people on the planet. And MS50 trail runners are the best of all. Hope to see you all again next year.