2008 Race Reports and Comments

Audrey Jackson

Rachel Hughes

Mandy Conrad

Jadyn Stevens

Rich Limacher ("The Troubadour")

Dennis Bisnette (RD)

Beth Simpson-Hall

Jay Perry

Jonathan & Kathleen Wendel

Russ "Rosco" Copeland

Jim Halsey

Bear Facts

Ramon Bermo (2nd in 50 Miles)

Cade Smith 

Bill Eiland



2008 Carl Touchstone Mississippi 50 Mile Race

Race Location: Laurel, Mississippi
Race Date: March 01, 2008

Run Like a Scalded Dog

"It's 5:20 (am)!" I shouted as I fumbled with my race number trying not to jab myself with those tiny little safety pins. I stood beside my Jeep in our campsite surrounded by darkness. My fellow campers were moving about in the shadows preparing to run the Mississippi 50. It was cold and time seemed to be passing quickly… before long it was 10 minutes to race time and we still had to check in. Luckily our campsite, which was a pristene, open vista beside a pond shaded by tall pines, was in sight of the starting area.
So we gathered our drop bags and cooler and I found myself hurrying to the start. Race Director David Bisnette was already standing at the start offering instructions. It was a comfort that someone seemed organized. Parker and I sat down our drop bags, checked in and then turned on our GPS watches. Yes, now to locate myself and be ever aware of my pace, mileage, distance and more… "Battery low, recharge now" it read. My watch had turned itself on by pressing against something in my bag during the trip down and now was out of juice, so much for the familiar feeling of control and knowledge.
Luckily Parker's watch was working fine. The next thing I recall was the race director saying something like… OK… Ready… Go! And we were off in the pre-light glimmer of morning, running through the campground and descending into the forest via Long Leaf Trail a glorious system of paths connected by fireroads regularly marked in orange tape.
As it started to become light, a hazy blue-ish mist rose from the dew soaked ground and settled below the first bows of the slender pines that rose into the sky. The trail was two runners wide and then one through the trees as we bunched together and talked. Funny how everyone knows better than to start fast and still no one abides. As we chugged through the forest, I asked Parker, "How's our pace?" in a very serious manner. His answer, "9:40… right on target." "Good!" I said. It wasn't until much later that I would see my concern with minute pace fluctuations at mile 2 as totally ludicrous.
We came to many creek crossings where the water was low, from what I heard… there were reports of waist deep waters in years past. That would have made for some painful conditions. The course was set up on a 12.5 mile loop. The 50k and 50 mile runners started together and the 50ks broke off after two laps to do a smaller inner loop marked in blue… while the 50 milers did four loops on what was marked as a horse trail.
Parker and I clicked off the miles together, talking with other runners… one particularly funny story I overheard was one man's pre-race ritual. It was told as follows…
"Well, my wife helped me this morning with my pre-race ritual. She does it before every race. She makes me stand at the front door, looks me over, smacks me on the butt and says, 'Now go… run like a scalded dog'."
We traversed to the first aid station at mile 4.1 or so and were greeted with water, Heed (a fantastic sports drink with calories), and snacks. We then continued on into the woods. It was overcast and probably 50 degrees, pretty much perfect for running in my opinion. We had been warned that there was a small section of the course that had been burned by the forest service. They conducted controlled burns to prevent wild fires. It doesn't kill many of the trees and gets rid of the dry pine straw that becomes a tenderbox if left alone.

A runner had voiced a concern the night before during the pre-race spaghetti dinner and packet pick-up at the train station in Laurel. Someone piped up during orientation, "What about the smoke?!" As we had entered the National Forest to set up camp, there had been several spots where we had noticed the sight and smell of smoke from the controlled burn. The RD's reply was just perfect… something to the effect of…

"Ehhh… it's just like smoking a pack of cigarettes." (Followed by a shoulder shrug).

"Really not a controllable factor at this point."

Luckily, or in my assessment by the grace of God, the winds picked up and the forest was clear of any noticeable smoke on race morning.
After a good spaghetti supper and with our packets in tow we returned to our campsite. The stars were out, and we busied ourselves prepping for the race. Then we sat by the fire, talked and watched the stars before we retired. The night was a restless one but we were dry.
As Parker and I made it to the third water station, we saw our buddy Wes, running strong in the 50k, full of jokes in his green bandana that made him look slightly like Rambo. From this water station there was an out and back out on a dusty dirt road. The race people said they had hunting cameras up to "watch for cheaters" but I never saw any. From here it was about four miles back to the start. On the fire road we saw Dan on his way back from the out and back… swerving, head down and messing with his earphones. Dan then dropped stuff and had to double back. Later in the day he ran an extra three miles by following a group that got off course, with all this, he still finished sixth in the 50k, incredible.
We were to duplicate our traverse of the course loop three more times (12.5m each). Parker and I ran the first two loops together and a part of the third until the first stop of the third loop. Parker had been complaining that his nipples were chaffing and he was in dire need of bandaids. Any runner knows this can be a serious problem. As we came to the clearing and pounded the dirt road toward the first aid station (third loop) Park exclaimed, "A blessing from the Heavens!" And low and behold before us on the ground were 7 or so bandaids, wrapped, unused and in perfect condition. I contend, what else could this have been but a blessing? Praise the Lord for His merciful, loving care and thanks to the runner who dropped the bandaids.
I then found myself alone as I had made it out of the aid station first. I walked a bit and then got back to it, this time with the Ipod. At the second stop I grabbed a small cup of cola. I suddenly felt great, running to tunes, feeling fine and on mile…30 something. This burst of energy faded as I moved into the mid 30's, and things became hazy as I loped into the start/finish area. My only comment was… "Got any salt?" I was totally covered in this mixture of sweat, salt and sand. The sand being from a nasty fall I took at the beginning of lap three. It happened so fast. One minute I'm telling Parker about some idea I have. That in ancient days, warriors would run until they outran their opponents and then would surge into the enemy's exhausted flank. Maybe we were descendants of such folk from Scotland or maybe Ireland. The next moment, I'm flipping forward after catching my foot on a root or rock. I landed and rolled as best I could but was tense and a bit shaken, and for the first time in the day, I had a shadow of a worry that I might actually not finish. That one step like that could end my day and my hopes of coming home with a brass buckle.
"Got any salt?" I smeared sportslick on my chest and ankles as I staggered toward the start/finish aid station for the third time. The good folks began to look around, I went to my cooler, pulled out a 20oz Coke and some pretzel sticks and filled up my water bottle with Heed and forgot all about the salt. I then pressed on into the fourth lap now with the sun out and the temperature rising to nearly 70 degrees. The Coke was an opulent treat, its sugar and caffeine seemed to enter my blood stream by the sip. I was now 12.5 miles away from my dream and a shiny new belt buckle.
The course grew longer I am sure. My thoughts became transient, and I gave up on all non-essential mental functions. At this point, my thoughts were often segmented and confused. I focused on my music and continuing on. I chose to walk all hills and now found it necessary to walk on some of the flat areas. The sun was brutal and there didn't seem to be anyone else running, I fought the notion to quit or sleep… really I just wanted to sleep.
I made it to the first aid station. The folks at the station seemed serious; they asked me what seemed a volley of questions… "How you doin?  How do you feel?"
I mustered a goofy grin and mumbled something about this having to be farewell because I wasn't planning to make another lap to thank them. This comment drew suspicious glances from them and led to a few seconds of uncomfortable silence until I sputtered… "Well, I'll be off then." As I left with a full bottle of Heed and a head full of what just happened? Their concern and attention was merciful and shows just how much they care for the runners in this race, they were checking me out for exhaustion, dehydration or worse. I was a likely candidate for all of these.
I ground to the second stop, Simon (Parker's brother-in-law) and his daughter were there to encourage. I was past the point of any meaningful eye contact. "Got any salt?" I left the aid station with a mouthful of potato chips, a mini Twix (that I was unable to open myself), another cola  and more Heed in my Amphipod bottle pak. The ruffled chips crunched loudly inside my head, felt sharp in my mouth and only went down with a swallow of cola.
By this point, all the sport beverages, gels, cubes, and junk food had left me nauseous. I had to force myself to drink. I drank 20oz every 45 minutes and only pee'd two times all day. That's a lot of sweat! I made it to the third and final aid station knowing I had the out and back on the fire road to contend with. It was heat, dust and no shade. On my way out and back I did see several runners and this was good. We all looked about the same; bent over, pale, slack jawed, prostrated and dirty.
I found myself becoming irritated as someone said, "Your lookin good." That was a bold faced lie. There was no way I looked good. My right arm was seizing up, I wanted to throw up and I was a mess.
As I made it back past the aid station into the final 3.5 miles I picked myself up and looked for the white mile markers on the trees. I had seen mile marker 9 on the out and back and was peering around every corner for 10, which would mean I was but 2.5 miles from the finish. The minutes dragged on, and I was discouraged and disoriented. "Where is that marker? Have I missed a turn?" Then around the bend I saw a white triangle with a fuzzy number on it. As I approached, it became clear… It was mile marker 11, which meant I had missed the marker for 10 all together and with a burst of joy I picked up my pace almost falling head first into a root gnarl but catching myself, propelling onward… to what Wes called the "Alleluia Jesus" part… this was where the blue trail for the 50k and the 50 mile came back together about a mile or so before the finish line. It was marked with beautiful blue spray paint with arrows that pointed, almost saying, "this way stupid" and boy was I by this point!
I broke through the clearing and out onto the road. I was there. I could see the dusty tops of sliver gooseneck campers that dotted the picnic sites on the finish line road and with all the pomp and ceremony of a child doing a cannon ball into a pool in front of his parents, I finished in 9 hrs and 11minutes and there was Simon and his daughter to greet me. Parker finished next, close behind.
As I return to normal life, I feel I am noticing humanity more. When the body's function is pushed to the limit and you are totally dependant on others kindness and effort, really for your survival, and definitely for your success, I think or at least I hope, I am more aware of others and more sensitive to the lives we all live, each with a cavalcade of emotions, issues, triumphs and failures. That we really all are in this together and that recognizing each other in all our God-given human-ness might make a difference.     

Jadyn Stevens     

Thank you again for putting on a top notch event! I always enjoy myself when I come to Mississippi!!
Best, Beth Simpson-Hall

I know that I am going to leave something out, but I will try hard to get everything together.

The night before the race, Dawn and I rode together to the pre race packet pick up meal. We saw fellow Pacers Frank, Elmer, Kelly, and Phillip. (If I have left someone out, sorry)!! The food was great, and their were a lot of people from out of town. The hall was full!! There were great door prizes and the only complaint I have (just a small one), is that there was so much excitement/chatter in the room that it was difficult to hear Dennis with his pre race instructions. I had never done this race before, so I was overly concerned about getting lost on the trail. (bad habit that I have).

The next day Dawn, Kelly, and I rode down to the race. We were there in plenty of time and checked in for the 20k. My plan was to take it easy and enjoy the race and run/start with Dawn and Kelly. There is something crazy that takes over my body as soon as I hear go!! I heard Dawn say "there she goes". I called back, "I am just striding out a little". I took off probably the speed of my 5K pace. (I need intervention). I did have my gels, and I swore to myself I would stop and hydrate at every station. The course was supposedly dry. (Ha, Ha). Good thing cuz I would hate to see it wet!! There was everything a trail needed to have, logs, roots, creeks, mud holes, hills, really, just my cup of tea. I never got bored, I loved the variety. I run a lot of trails behind my house, so really my legs loved it!! I caught up with Phillip Wedgeworth who is running with an injury, and we pretty much kept each other going when the going got rough. Near the end of the race, Phillip tripped over a root, (by this time, your legs are not picking up as well), I mean he went down hard. I was really concerned he had fx'd his arm. We walked a few feet, and like the trouper that he is, he started running. (Look, we were too close to the finish, and we were going to finish.) We were laughingly discussing how I was going to carry him!!

I stopped at every water stop, and I never got any leg cramps. My legs got fatigued, and believe me, this was a difficult race. I kept waiting for Phillips watch to beep the next mile near the end of the race. We finished and I was pleased with my time. I really had no time expectations, but I knew I had run well, no cramps, I was happy. I had "fun". I love the trail run!! I can see myself seeking out more runs of this nature.

Dawn ran well too. She took it easy and just ran a good race. She also had a spill on the trail, it sounds like right around where Phillip fell. She also picked herself up and finished in good spirits, looking fresh and strong. I believe this is one of the farthest distance races that Kelly has run. She picked a tough one. She finished strong to the finish. Of course Terry Lawhead had time to eat dinner, visit with the campers, etc., by the time we finished. He got 3rd overall. Phillip and I finished 1 sec. apart, just under 2 hours.

This course was really marked well. All those involved, (and believe me when I say they are too many to mention without leaving someone out)! did a wonderful job!! The only time I got lost is with Kelly and Dawn as were trying to make our way out of the campground. We finally figured it out, but we were getting a little worried.

All in all, I loved this run!! I highly recommend it for next year. I needed this race mentally, if nothing else. Just to prove I can get through a longer run without a "stupid" penalty. Now, when is the next trail run?

Catch you on the run!! Audrey Jackson

This was my first 50K and I just wanted to say thanks for the great experience.  Aside from my own stupidity in running a strong New Orleans marathon the week before the 50K, everything about the run was fantastic.  The encouragement along the trail was probably the best part.  I was ready to quit after the second lap around the 12.5 loop, but coming through the start area, everyone was so encouraging that I forced myself to keep going and actually finish.  My fellow runners were also encouraging and friendly.  One angel-in-disguise gave me his duct tape after I discovered a massive blister and could hardly even hobble.  I noticed that I was one of the youngest 50K finishers, so I have hope that when I get over 30, maybe I’ll have more endurance too!   

All to say, great experience and I’m already looking at ultras in the Nebraska area and wherever else the USAF decides to send me (although my legs do insist on no long runs for a few weeks now).  Thanks again. 

Rachel Hughes


As usual, the race director, staff, and volunteers deserve high praise for another great race this year.  I know the logistics of providing so much aid and so many fluids are difficult at this location. I know ya'll covered every mile of this race for trail maintenance, flagging, painting, marking, and finally clean up. Great job.  The camaraderie between all the runners was evident as well.
I enjoyed the race, and even got to run ~2.5 extra "bonus" miles after one missed turn on the first lap. (I am still trying to figure out how I and several others missed that!) You were nice enough even not to charge me extra $ for the added distance ;) The trail was wetter than we've run it before, but I heard reports of much worse in distant year's past.
We love this race, our 3rd, and brought 3 extra this year. We hope to continue our annual trip and bring more. Maybe one day your permit will allow a greater number of entrants.
Sincerely, Mann and Mandy Conrad---Starkville, MS

My wife and I came down for the run this weekend. I did my first 50 miler, and she her first 50k. It was a very fun weekend. My thanks to the RD and all of the volunteers. The aid station folks couldn't have been nicer, and everything was well organized. Enjoyed the Friday pasta dinner as well. I know the effort it takes to put on an event like this. Big thank yous to all of you.
Jim Halsey

Hi Dennis and Organizers!
Kathleen and I wanted to write and express our gratitude to you for all of your hard work and effort putting on a great race.  This was such a wonderful experience for us, and we are going to brag to everyone we know about you guys and Mississippi and the course and everything else!  So, a big huge thank you from the Iowans.
We also enjoyed making some friends during the race.  If you don't mind, could you either forward this message to the following and request their email address be sent to me, or send them directly?  We wish to thank Beth and Jerry for their company and encouragement, and we wish to make a donation to the cause Russ ran for.
Russ Copeland
Jerry Sullivan
Beth Simpson-Hall
Thanks again,
Jonathan & Kathleen Wendel
Ames, Iowa

Just want to thank you guys for an outstanding race.  This was my first 50 miler and it was certainly a great race to start with.  The volunteers were fantastic at every aid station.  I wanted to give one brief example that really made a difference.  At aid station #2 on the final loop I was doing my best to run strong and click the miles away.  I was obviously extremely tired.  One of the volunteers (I believe this was the gentleman that used to be the race director prior to Dennis) said “you’re doing great, Jay, keep it up.”  Clearly he had looked my name up with my bib number as I was approaching the aid station.  It was a small gesture to call me by name, but after around 45 miles, every gesture is appreciated. 

Again, thanks for your efforts. 

/s/ Jay Perry

Race Director’s Report

Many thanks to all who participated in the 12th running of the Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi Trail 50. This year we managed to avoid any hunting season. Deer season ended on Friday and next Saturday Turkey season opens with a youth day. While many of us runners are also hunters it is still nice to know no one is out shooting while we run. It was a nice day though a little hot for the longer distances. The weather should have been about the best that can be hoped for in Mississippi in March.

Reports of the course being a little wet were grossly exaggerated by the standards of this course. Those who have been to our little run for the past 3 years will not appreciate past years when the first hard right at about one mile meant you were wet from the knees down for the rest of the day. One of my last days to participate before becoming RD I remember Dr. Pendergrass completely disappeared trying to cross a creek by jumping from one log to another unsuccessfully. Randy Saxon helped him out of the water. I saved his hat.

From the standpoint of the RD the whole affair went off smother than days past. It looked like we were having problems manning the aid stations for a time. Wanda Touchstone for one was suffering from the flu and missed helping out for the first time as far as I know. We all look forward to her presence next year. Wyck Neely, our regular time keeper coaches high school track and was required to be away for his runners. And Steve Burgess who is always reliable gave plenty of notice that he would not be present due to a conflict. Once the e-mail requesting volunteers went out we had more than enough help. Some but not all who helped are listed below. Some names I do not recall as there was a lot going on but all were very nice and kind to offer their assistance.

Friday morning race site and aid station setup-Jeff Troyka, Randy Saxon, Renee Bisnette.

Meeting and meal Randy Saxon, Sandy Saxon, My family (Renee Bisnette, Katie Bisnette, Katelyn Duffy, and Taylor Duffy) Elmer (Running Bear) & Ann Beardshall, Marty Spellicy, and Frank Barrett.

Saturday Morning: Aid Station 1 David Dill, Kathy Dill who also helped out at Aid 3, Sandy Saxon, Christen Saxon.  

Aid Station 2 Steve DeReamer, our past RD, and Frank Barrett.

Aid Station 3 Greg Lea (20Ker Crissie Lea’s Husband) and Stan Ladd (50Ker Lori’ Ladd’s Husband). Their wives are runners but they have other hobbies. Did a great job with no experience. We hope to add them to our regulars.

Aid Start - Finish My family (Renee Bisnette, Katie Bisnette, Katelyn Duffy, her friend and Taylor Duffy), 

Small Loop Aid Station Jeff Troyka 

Timing table Marty Spellicy came over from Birmingham to help, Bobby Ray Davis, Jennie Chow (very fast runner, wanted to run but was injured), Elmer, Ann.

Passing out the Shamrock jackets: Running Bear.

Food runs John and Dorothy Bisnette.

Other race day Volunteers:  

Don Ayers, Greg Gearheart’s wife, Becky Lister, Jeff Seabold’s father and many others who offered if needed.

Bill McMullan for the tables every year.

Randy and Charles, who ran the course with me many times putting out flagging tape and picking up debris and trash, Jeff Troyka who puts up the mileage markers, helps flag the course and puts up signs. Michael Yarbrough, and Chad Caraway who picked up debris and trash while training for their first 50 miler. Both finished with respectable times. One had not completed more than a 20K. We hope to see more of them.

Always there is due special thanks to Running Bear who is invaluable to this and other running and cycling clubs in the area for his dedication and computer skills. He keeps the web site up and going. I could not do it without him.

Finally thanks to my wife and family who puts up with a house full of shirt boxes, bags, and gels for a week or more each year. Thanks for the days of bleaching out water jugs and coolers, for the nights I don’t sleep and my generally bad disposition for many days leading up to the race.

It all goes off more easily each year that we run this event but only because of the volunteers in general and particularly the ones who keep doing the same things each year to assure a good day for some 200 runners.

The course measured out to 49.79 on one GPS and 50.24 on another. We rolled it with a wheel some years back and knew it was accurate.

Dennis Bisnette

Dennis and Running Bear, just wanted to say thanks for a great race. This was my first attempt at any distance over 26.2 and I definitely picked the right event.  The course was awesome and the volunteers and other participants were even better!! As you know from the bright green shirts, I had a big cheering section with me and they had a great time watching and cheering on all of the competitors. I was running this race not only to see if I could finish a 50 miler but I was also trying to raise money to set up two college funds for Mallory(9) and Madelyn(7) Byrne who lost there mother, Melanie, to cancer on Dec. 23, 2007. I had people sponsor me so much per mile conditioned on me finishing the entire 50 miles and I am happy to report that we raised (at last count) $28,000.00. The special part for me was not only were my 2 daughters there to cheer me on but Mallory, Madelyn, their father Mark, and Melanie's parents were also there as part of "Rosco's crew". Just so you know, I will be back to run it again and this race will always hold a special place in our hearts. Again, thanks for putting on a great event.
ps. met some great people during the race, especially Jonathon and Kathleen Wendel, who were very supportive and great company for my first 2 laps.

Thanks, Russ "Rosco" Copeland

I just want to thank you for a great experience.
This was my first 50 miler, and I totally enjoy the whole experience.
If I could I'd like to ask you for a favor.
After the race I was talking to Nathan Echols,  I was wondering if you could pass along his email,  he is a fellow NJerseyan and like me, he'll be doing the VT100, and I'd like to contact him to maybe do some training together. If possible I'd appreciate it very much.
I hope to see you next year, keep up the good work, keep the purity of running alive !
Again thanks for everything, 
Ramon Bermo

MS 50,

Thank you for a wonderful weekend of fellowship and fun. The MS 50 was my first trail run and first 50 miler. The race organizers, participants, and scenery were most rewarding. Several Boardtown Roadrunners from Starkville, MS, participated in each distance. We all left feeling renewed by the experience. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to continuing this incredible experience.

Happy running,
Cade Smith

Hi.  I just wanted to let you and Dennis know what a wonderful time that my wife and I had at the run.  What a great event!!  My only regret is that my law partner had to cancel due to a death in his family.  But we all can't wait until next year!  Thanks again.  Please forward this to Dennis.
Bill Eiland

I am a damn Yankee, so of course my take on this course has always been "slightly different."  But I don't think quite as different as our inestimable Running Bear's running commentary usually is (see all the photo captions, for example) on such issues as hallucinating over stuff that isn't there--like horse-drawn wagons, for example.
Well, I was there and I seen 'em!  Lotta horses!  Strange wagons!  Lotta poop!!  So, yeah, I guess because I done seen what "wasn't there," that must be my different perspective.
Or, take that goofy race clock.  (Please!)  On one side (the business side) it kept perfect time.  On the other side (what all the waiters and cheerers and volunteers see) it was totally whacky.  There were times shown on there like: "9:77:06" or "0:98:12" and such.  I know!  I seen 'em!!  So that's why I tried to explain to the goodly Dr. Bear about how--on this planet at least--there's only 60 minutes to the hour, and so it simply is not possible to have a clock read 9 hours, 77 minutes, and 6 seconds.   And yet, our grand chronologist claimed he did not see this.  He thought that I must be crazy!  Or, maybe just a damn Yankee.
"We don't see anything wrong," all the finish line volunteers suddenly agreed.  "Do YOU?"
[All right, I'll give 'em the fact that the clock was not mechanically perfect and on one side did not always display ALL the little yellow-green day-glow number parts.  For instance, in that "9:77:06" the left side and bottom of the first minute digit didn't display, so it was really: "9:07:06."  And in my second example, that "9" was really a "4."  You get the idea.  Or, if you're a True Southerner, you pay it no mind.  "That's just how life is here in the South, Rich." :-]
I love the South!  Why do y'all think I show up every year?  'Cuz it's WARMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!
I can well put up with a few optical illusions and Elmer's (Running Bear) wry humor.  Wouldn't miss it for the world.
But the clever among you might also well ask, "Hey, you were signed up for the 50M and you're usually slow as Mississippi molasses.  So what in tar-nation were YOU standin' at the start/finish gawkin' at 9 hours on the clock for?"
Right.  Normally that thing reads "21:98:77" (or some such) when I cross the line.  But this time?  'Twas not to be.  I somehow survived RR100 one month previous (where that clock said "29:59:59" or something :(  and I guess I was still mildly disturbed from that little Rocky Horror Picture Show.  BUT!!!  Carl Touchstone in his genius had set up the famous "bail out" option from the very beginning, and so this year I finally took it.  I've now completed a whole entire 50K (chickening out from 50M) where the clock suddenly said "9:77:06," making this my all-time PW (personal worst) 50K ever!  Even the clock was messing with my mind!
OK, so I can't run anymore worth a decent clump of breakfast grits, but there is yet one function that ancient damn Yanks like me can still serve:  that of historian.
Y'all should take it upon yerseffs to click through this amazing website concocted by Running ("what illusion"?) Bear.  Scroll down thru the history and dig all the news clippings and pictures and other strange and unusual fax.  You'll see that this whole thing started with a bong hit way back in 1979.  (Just kidding about the bong.)  Well, I too was a "flower child" then and really should have showed up in Leland that following March when the very first race took off--SIX entire entrants running around a 1+ mile loop.  Wow.  In the pouring Mississippi rain (!) no less--which didn't bother them much then on pavement, but--wowie wow!--has it ever come to plague us on these muddy Mississippi trails now, eh?
Anyway, I'd like to point out some very young attendees at those early Leland races:  Ray Jones, who I later actually worked for, and Helen Klein, who later everybody either worked for, got autographs from, or else ran behind in her California races, yes?  Also there were now-famous folks in attendance like Ray the K (Krolewicz); someone named Cantrell; Lou Peyton (of AT100 fame); a practically-still-a-child Dink Taylor; a doc who invented Conquest; Mort Krakow (practically my Yankee neighbor!); Wyck Neeley (who's now in charge of your CLOCK! :); and of course Carl Touchstone.  Wow!  A veritable Who's Who of ultrarunning greats!!!
And now, dig this:  Those "old" folks ran 50 miles... in roughly around SEVEN-something HOURS!!!!!!!!
In fact, that very first MS50 in Leland had THE FASTEST average finishing time of ANY 50-miler EVER!  And probably ever since!
So, yeah, had I quit smoking back then and actually "come on down" to participate in that first race, I'da been laughed off the track.  Which, come to think of it, was just about exactly happened this past Saturday, March 1st.
One last word about Carl Touchstone.  HE, my friends, is the REAL REASON why all this Mississippi ultra stuff yet endures.  All those folks way back then were his pals, and yet somehow years and years later:  he made me his pal.  He used to fly his (yes) airplane up North to Yankeeville (Wisc.) so he himself could run about the oldest race that we still have:  the Ice Age 50.  Many a time Carl and I shook hands at that starting line.  It was he who told me what to expect at the then Klein's major California race:  the Western States 100.  And it was Carl who one time I was actually able to catch up with at Ice Age, mostly because he was hurting.
He asked me, "Do y'all have a PowerBar, Rich?"
I just so happened to have a miniature one (which they used to make for Expos and such) in my Western States "Dream 100" waistpack, so I gladly gave it to him.
After the race (and he of course finished all 50 miles of it) Carl said to me, "Thanks, Rich.  Ya saved my life."
Apparently, and sadly, I didn't.  Which is now why year after year I keep coming back to run his Memorial Race.
So please, Dennis and alla y'all fine wonderful folks, please keep this going in his honor.  OK?

Yours troubly,
Rich Limacher
("The Troubadour")

Running Bear's side of the story (otherwise known as ~ "The Truth")

Dennis never lets me write much for the web site, but he made an exception this time since I have been slandered so bad by person or persons I won't name out of courtesy. Actually I just wanted to write this in case my body shows up somewhere all cut up, the DA would have a clue who might have done it. (But come to think of it, Dennis is the DA). Anyway, there I was at the finish line all stressed out. Usually they don't give me anything that requires responsibility at the finish line as my case officer has warned them that there is only a loose connection between Running Bear, some old ex-runner, and reality. But in 2008, I had to pass out the finisher's memento (wind jacket). They come in sizes, so do the runner's, some people later wanted to trade, etc., so you can see it was extremely nerve wracking. And as usual some runners got low on electrolytes or high on ?, and started having illusions. They started seeing horse drawn wagons, had trouble reading the clock, and claiming there were several muddy sections out on the course. One even claimed the wagon he saw had bucket seats and rubber tires! Anyway we of course pulled these people from the race, convinced them they had actually completed their race, and sent them to the finish line aid station to get some refreshments and hopefully recover their senses. So you can understand that when some of them starting having trouble reading the logo on their wind jacket, it was reasonable to assume it was just another illusion. But not me. After only half a dozen finishers had pointed out that they had already been to the aid station, but were still seeing YingSling(sic) Shamrock Marathon on their jackets, and since I was now also seeing it, it might be a problem! Luckily I had only given out 2/3 of the box before I astutely caught it. I immediately handled the problem (dumped it on the RD, Dennis). Dennis is one of these steely eyed lawyer types who never gets rattled, or outwardly mad at you. He doesn't scream or shout, but I could sense that this time he might be building up to a possible explosion. "You did what!?" I figured it was a good time to go to the portalet. On the way back, I stopped by and asked Dennis's wife Rene to go to the finish line with me. I told her that Dennis was furious with me, and explained why. I though maybe she could soothe his anger. I have always gotten along good with Rene (so I thought) but she looked at me kind of steely eyed herself this time. Dennis was yelling something to her as we walked up.  When we go to the finish line she walked right up to Dennis and handed him something. I stepped closer to hear her gentle words of calming. And I swear her exact words were "This is the biggest knife we have"! I don't remember much after that, as I was so busy watching my back, especially after it started to get dark. I never even got a chance to tell Dennis my theory that maybe it was a good thing I had passed out the wrong jackets to people who had already left enroute back to 23 different states he was now going to have to ship replacement jackets to. Maybe they wouldn't want to trade jackets? Think how cool it would be to show up for registration at the 3/15 Shamrock Marathon in Norfolk, and already be wearing one of their jackets?

Report submitted to Ultrarunner:

Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi 50 Trail Run

The 12th Carl Touchstone Mississippi Trail 50 (MS50 for short) was held March 1, 2008 on the Longleaf Horse Trail at the De Soto National Forest. The weather cooperated again, fairly dry, with temperatures in the 50 to mid 70’s. A new record was set in the female division of the 20K. Mandy Conrad had held the record till last year, but came in second in 2007 with Karen Trittschuh from Florida breaking Mandy’s previous record. So this year Mandy Conrad came back on a mission, winning with a new record time of 1:40:06. The first place winner in the 50 Miles, John Brower, was passed by Ramon Bermo only 5 miles from the finish, but recovered and passed him back with a mile to go to take first. His wife Bev also ran the 50 Miles, taking second.

This is a great event to try your first run at a longer distance, and 70 of the 235 entrants were doing just that, running their very first 20K, or 50K, or 50 mile event. This included the top 2 runners in the 50 mile event!

Iva Lightsey of Meridian Mississippi participated in her tenth MS50, and was presented with a special 10 year award trophy after the race. That makes a total of 7 persons who have attended at least 10 of the 12 times the race has been held in Laurel.

Thanks to everyone who came and hope to see you next year.