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Carl Touchstone Mississippi Trails 50 

Report(MS): Rich Limacher

It just goes to show ya.  Our beloved Carl Touchstone (who
is very, very dearly missed today, I promise you) even he
himself, bargaining like crazy with all the sponsoring
angels, cannot stop the Mississippi RAIN once it starts to
really RAININ'.  And I'll bet you there were an awful lot of
us recently prayin' to him to try and do exactly that.

I know I was.  Right about from the first time I reached
that point between miles 5 and 6 on the Dogwood Loop where
The Big Creek crossing is.


How 'bout RAGING RIVER(S)???

("Rageeng Reeverz???  We doan need no steengkeeng reeverz!")

Man, this thing was damn near over my head!  Even on the
first loop!  And I stand six-foot-two in my soggy socks!

I promise you something else:  All those folks shorter than
me were swimmin'!  Again!!  They had to be, otherwise they
would have sunk to the bottom and drowned.

I say "again" because it's happened before.  Yes.  That same
"creek" rose up ANGRY in '98, and ultimately the good
rangers of the DeSoto National Forest came and closed us
down.  That's right.  I have Carl's own letter sent to all
of us afterwards sitting right here beside me.  It's
postmarked 12 March 1998, and in it our dearly missed race
director told us:  "We sincerely regret having to cut the
race short by 1-1/2 hours, but that was solely for the
safety of the runners.  The fact that we had a race at all
on that day was a miracle.  Our prayers were answered."


By the way, Carl began that letter by exclaiming:  "Well, we
did it!  In spite of thunderstorm warnings, tornado watches,
and flash flood warnings, we had a fun day."

Hmmm.  Again.

By all my accosting the accounts of all the other
accountants who just did it this year, our 2001 race was
completely WORSE than that circus of '98.  This time, never
mind the "warnings" and "watches."  Hey, we had the real
thing!  Thunderstorms, big time!  Flash floods like you
never seen!!!  (Even the puddles were waist-deep!)
And--almost, maybe, but not quite--tornadoes too!  (Hey,
didja watch the news?  A week or so before this year's race,
Mississippi really did have tornadoes!  Sweet Cheezesiss!
The governor declared parts of the state "disaster

Hmmm, a third time.

I remember runnin' (hah! WADING) through the trail (yes,
"through" is the correct word, not "on" or "along the top
of") and looking up at the sky when the wind picked up.
Hoo-boy!  Them clouds was green!!!  And the trees were

I'm thinkin', "Oh great.  It isn't The Barkley that's gonna
do me in.  I'm gonna die right here in Mississippi!"

And then, seriously, I think... hmmm... a fourth time.
"Gosh, does Carl miss me, too?  Is he askin' me to join him

Well, all right.  Maybe that is a kind of a sick joke.
Actually, the thing I remember feeling most ALL DAY last
Saturday was how Carl really is looking after us.  In the
face of all this natural disaster, I never once felt like I
was in danger of death.  Heck, I can swim, and I'm sure Carl
knew that.  And I'm also pretty sure "the word got out" last
time enough so that only THE bravest and strongest signed up
this year.  I'm tellin' ya, I was surrounded and drowned by
talent.  Even my "buddy" Edith from Illinois (of all places)
came down this year and kicked my ass.  And Steve Michael
was there from Georgia, splashing past.  As did "Spyder"
herself, Sarah Tynes (damn, is she getting awesome, or
what?), along with a whole 'nother carload of kickass

That's it.  I'm movin'.  I'm joinin' the Confederacy.

To hell with all this Chicagoland ice and snow.

So, okay, with only the toughest of the tough splashing
through the Mississlippery trails (I kid you not; at least
80% of the path was under water, with depths varying from a
couple inches to just under six feet!) what chance did I
have?  Certainly nothing competitive, but, Lordy, I did plan
to finish!  Especially when, after my second loop, I asked
the start/finish aid station captain if it was still OK for
me to continue.

"Sure," she said.  (And GodBLESS the volunteers, eh?  I mean
it.  I cannot imagine standing outdoors all day long in a
torrential downpour.  Many of them had no tents.  Most of
the other tents blew halfway across the forest when the
winds picked up.  And one of 'em, yes, Fat Rabbit himself,
flew all the way down from Wisconsin just to help the new
people in charge.  I know because we found each other on the
same plane!)

And speaking of newly in charge people, hey, Steve DeReamer
and Brooke Touchstone did a magnificent job under all these
incredibly severe conditions.  Brooke even ran the 50K
herself (much of it in front of me; gosh, she's an awesome
ultrarunner) and Steve (darn it all anyway) "was there for
me" at the end of my third loop.  Unfortunately, he was also
telling me that, once again, the rangers came and closed us
down.  Protest as I might that I still had enough time on
the clock (I swear I would've made it this time, even with
the duathlon swim tossed in); Steve rightly said no.  He
gave me my finisher's award anyway and sent me over to the
sagging tent for some soggy chicken.

(Note:  I am not complaining about the chicken.  At that
point, I'd've eaten soggy shoe leather.  But Carl always did
feed us after we finished, and I'm ravishingly pleased to
see this continue!)

Spyder and Company, of course, were already in the tent.
Her buddy Drew Hackett somehow managed a PR (!!!) over THAT
50K course.  Congrats to him, too, and I still wanna move to
Georgia.  Don't try to talk me out of it now, 'hear???

Gosh, it was great to "picnic in the rain" with all of them.
I think (although I can't quite be sure) that THIS is the
reason why I do this.  No, not the chicken but the chicks.
All right, and the dudes too.  Okay, the people!  It's the
people who also endure this stuff that keeps me--and
probably a bunch of others--coming back.  There is great
camaraderie in a Mississippi monsoon.

And say what you will about rrrRon McBee, but the dude
himself was also there and running VERY WELL waaaaaaaaaay in
front of my soggy ass.  Live and in color, he is a perfect
gentleman.  We had a good time visiting both at the prerace
meal the night before and at the starting line the day of.
Dontcha even know, people, he's just bullshittin' with y'all
on this List?  He's a satirist!  Several centuries ago there
was another great wit who did the same thing.  He managed to
piss off EVERYBODY in the U.K. and beyond.  Our children now
study him in English class.  Think about it.  His name was
Jonathan Swift.

Well, I don't know what else to tell you.  I did three laps
of a four lap race and earned a finisher's prize.  How about
that?  And this was the SECOND time that's happened.  I
don't know about you, but I'm startin' to think Carl
Touchstone's Mississlippery Fifty must be about THE toughest
footrace of all time.  Hey, has The Barkley ever been
"called on account of rain"?  I don't think so.  But The
Mississippi has!  TWICE!!

yyyYour sssoggyass doublepour,

Retch Limacher

"The Sinkist Formerly Known As Float"