Day 39 - Miami to Carthage - 48.7 miles

The nightmares about the road have stopped. I’m actually sleeping quite well. Each day I get up with little more than a feeling that I have a job to do. I’ve stopped spending so much time worrying about the things I can’t control such as where we stay at night, how much down time I get, what there will be to eat at the end, phone reception, internet connections even money. I can always make more money, I can’t run across the USA very often.

Actually last night I got a couple of things off my mind. The hospital finally sent the bill for my 3 hours in the emergency ward ($2400 though oddly discounted to $1600). I hope my insurance settles that and Gemma is on to the case. I also looked at my bank balance last night too, not too bad. I have not really been keeping a handle on what I spend and worried that the pot would have dwindled a lot. Most of the costs of the race have been incurred now and I feel like I will have a little breathing space at the end. I won’t have to sleep in a bus shelter when I return to the UK (though that sounds nicer than the motel from a couple of days ago).

So now it’s just that, running, covering the distance each day and if there is time to blog or eat nice food or chat or call Gemma  at the end of each day then that’s a bonus. Bed by 8.30 latest, up at 4, just do the job each day. I feel like I am getting used to it now, like this is normal. Dare I say it’s getting easier…

Today was going to be a great day, we were leaving the state that tried so hard to kill us all. Just another 13 miles of this and we were in Kansas (if only for 9 miles and then into Missouri). “Lets get the hell out of Oklahoma” I said at the beginning of the day.

It was Patrick’s birthday today, not sure which one but he said he hopes not to run like an older man today. HE was presented with a book on the 1928 running across America. There were calls for him not to read it as it would give him silly ideas. He was already more than half way through that silly idea and smashing it.

The first 13 miles were the standard. I was told there were 3 Mcdonalds on the route today and I was intent on hitting them all. The first was just a mile into Kansas (Bye bye Oklahoma) and I stopped for a breakfast bagel and a smoothie. It was my first McDonalds smoothie and I had no idea just how good they were. It was starting to get a little hot and the ice cold fruit was amazing.

The 9 miles of Kansas was fairly uneventful, the “Pray for rain” signs were now “pray for America”. Bando found a wallet full of cash and cards and handed it to his crew who passed it onto the police. There was no sign for entering Missouri but I think it was when we crossed a main road and headed into one of those lovely tree surrounded windy roads that nearly killed me the other day.

In fact it was really nice, I did not feel the temperature more than other days but was icing my hat and pack as usual. Around half way we entered Joplin, a town devastated by a tornado in May.

The first glance at Joplin looked like there had been some damage but nothing too much. Houses were missing roofs, a gas station was closed as it had been shattered. The other side of the street looked fine though, all the houses and buildings in perfect condition. I thought that this was not as big as expected and headed through the town and took a right turn onto another busy street.

The view from then was an upsetting shock. Miles and miles of rubble on each side. The town had been razed. There were still random buildings in perfect condition but most of it was wood and brick just piled on the ground. From a distance it looks like any disaster scene you will see on the news from time to time, a bit anonymous. When we got up close to the buildings it was awful, there were shoes and teddy bears and clothes and toasters and all manner of peoples personal possessions buried under mortar. One of the runners was told about a boy who was swept up in the tornado and not found for 20 days, dead in a lake, dead in a lake I just ran past thinking “that’s a lovely lake”.

I was running with Alex at the time and he just said “Look at how your life can change”, pointing to the nice house with the car and the boat on the left and then pointing to the pile of rubble and belongings on the right. I think everyone’s lives must have changed that day, 200 of them ended.

With that harrowing few miles everything else seem to fade. All of a sudden minor pains in my legs didn’t really matter anymore. I walked through most of the town but started running again as soon as I got out.

The temperature really kicked up again but it didn’t register with me too much, it was only when I saw a sign that said 111F and then seeing Alex looking quite dazed in the shade. I was feeling OK probably because of McDonalds stop no 2 where I just had the smoothie.

The last 10 miles were really nice. A quiet road with a couple of towns passed. I think I like Missouri already. There was the third and final McDonalds a mile from the finish, it would be rude not to make the hat-trick wouldn’t it? Again , the same wild berry smoothie while someone in there suggesting this wasn’t the weather for biking. I’m not biking, I’m running.

Right, it’s past my bedtime. I think tomorrow is about 53 miles. Night night x.