In this time of severe global uncertainty, but without picking sides nor offering any opinion, I'd just like to memorialize somebody else, namely Dr. Carl A. Touchstone, the reviver, if not founder, of this great annual running event in the DeSoto National Forest of Mississippi. Otherwise known, I suppose, as "Carl's Monsoon."
R.D. Steve DeReamer has renamed the race in Carl's honor, and I am very proud now to wear his name on my shiny new buckle. Sure, the Mississlippery Fifty always seems to suck up to our knees in Carl's dreaded mud, but he was the guy who started the dang thing right--slurp--on my burpday, and I was fast his friend ever since.
Let me share with you some fond memories I shall always retain of this most excellent Southern gentleman. Like, for example, two things right off the start: To this day, Carl and his family remain about the only race directing folks I've ever known to actually provide a birthday cake at the
finish line and sing for a runner "Happy Birthday." And he still remains the only race director that ever called me up afterwards to ask what I thought of his race.
Or how about this? Besides once being an excellent runner himself, Carl was no doubt just about the best orthodontist in Dixie, and with his success he bought an airplane and with his airplane he'd fly to ultras. I'll never forget him standing at the start line of the Ice Age 50-Miler in Wisconsin, explainin' how his he'd just parked his plane "over yonder." I was very impressed.
But then, so must have been that one runner who'd just flown to Jackson to run Carl's own race--but then called Carl up in a panic. It seems he forgot his driver's license had expired, so no one would rent him a car. Typically
non-plused, Carl just told him, "You wait right there, son," and then hopped in his plane and flew from Laurel to Jackson to pick the runner up, and then, after the race, flew him back. Now I ask you, is that sharing your blessings with your fellow man, or what?
I told you Carl was a great runner himself, didn't I? Well, once after digging around Chicago for an ultra-history story, Dr. Noel Nequin, founder of the old A.M.J.A. Ultras, lent me a couple old copies of none other than this same magazine you're reading right now [i.e., UltraRunning]. And Carl's name was all over that Lakefront event of my hometown. So, I took a couple copies down to Laurel one year and shoved 'em right into Carl's own hands. "Look at that!" I told him. "You used to run fifty miles in seven-something hours!" We should all be as proud of Carl as he was shy that day.
He wrote a poem, and I got a copy and have since re-copied it to everybody I know: "Never Quit on the Uphill."
No, for sure, don't you dare. And now that you're up there, Carl, don't you quit lookin' down on us neither, ya hear? We surely could use a few more of your blessings right about now, too.
Well, I, for one, hope never to quit on Carl's Monsoon. It's not exactly too hilly, but there's similar problems of stick-to-it-ive-ness just the same.
© Rich Limacher