Admin, admin, admin. The ceremonial last few miles of New Mexico, which felt completed to me as soon as I saw “Mile 0” on Highway 9 was delayed by various tasks that needed internet and of course, the clocks going back, but this at least meant Beer could join me for the border crossing and once again, performed admirably, even scolding me for messing around too much taking photos once he was into his stride. Casting one last glance eastwards up 9, we moved on and passed the Chiricahua Desert Museum on the way which looked great and I suggested that he and Nads should go there while I did a long second run. Nads has been so tolerant (the vast majority of the time anyway) of my myriad demands/requirements and hasn't really had much opportunity do much outside of these routines, so having someone else to share a fun thing like this is really welcome. It turned out to be brilliant, with well designed enclosures for local reptiles, insects and plants in a way that educates visitors about preserving the way of life in the Sonoran desert. I was a little sad I couldn't see it, but hey, I've had my share of lucking out so far. I feel lucky to have been in New Mexico, never mind run across it and now I'm here with two of my best mates at the Arizona border. I'll take that.
We encounter all sorts of people on the road, which is one of the best parts. Pretty early on today we bumped into two French cyclists, who'd ridden from Montana and were heading to Florida that I was able to impart some useful advice to, about my old mate, Highway 9, then at the next stop, a Swiss motorcyclist who was riding from San Diego (where he'd learned English in three months), again to Florida. He was worried about him running out of gas. No worries, I can tell you just where to go on Highway 9. The German unicyclist has yet to materialise, but if he needs any advice on Highway 9, I'm your man. I did of course, apologise for Brexit.
Our Harley riding friend rocked up as we having lunch at the monument commemorating the surrender of Geronimo, the famous leader of the Apache tribe. He surrendered to an American Lieutenant who had to ride into his camp with the terms of surrender. “Excuse me Chief...errr…I've got this for you. Any chance of me coming out of this...intact?” I had that feeling on the Highway 190 bridge, but I at least GoPro'd my adventure. Seriously though, what would that have felt like? Anyway, he made it and that is actually...history. Really important history. This was the end of all war with Native American people, for good in terms of finality and also for the settlers, generally, though as is always the way, could best be described as mixed, for the initial inhabitants, if you're wearing star-spangled glasses.
The late start meant little time for sitting around and I started to walk off lunch as soon as hit my rapidly enlarging stomach and began to run soon enough up a narrow road, meandering through and mostly up into the mountains that you could so easily imagine passing through in the 1800s only to see the silhouette of warriors on horseback on a distant crag, watching your progress… Initial impressions of Arizona's scenery is that it's no poor relation to New Mexico and the added feeling of being in real Wild West Country adds a new flavour to it. So much so we nearly got bold and attempted a mountain pass dirt road, after a local farmer said we'd do just fine in the RV, but sense prevailed and after a final, gloriously soundtracked (Cheers, shuffle DJ) and really enjoyable last 7 miles we sit atop one of these mountains, just off Highway 80. Incidentally, we got on it with 415 miles on display on the marker. I don't know if we're going to be on this to the border with California yet, but that's a BIG number.
P.S. Another big number is 1500. We went past that in miles today. I can't wait for a future occasion when someone asks me what my PB for the 1500 is at an athletics gathering. I'll go: “...oh about 7 weeks...”
Start: Rusty's RV Ranch. Finish: Highway 80, just after Boss Ranch (Liverpudlians and those with exposure to our kind will understand how good this is…). 35.08 miles
Today was one of those awkward, “let's get there” days. It's impossible to get excited about every day you run, or have a great end destination and to be honest, I'm glad of that. It lets you catch up, take stock etc. Finishing at an exciting destination means that nothing else will get done of that note and that's always a source of frustration to me as there is so much I have to do (or choose to do, rather) to help further the run. I wish I could just run and Nads does her best with that, but of course there's some things that only I can deal with. If I win the lottery then maybe I could just run and converse with you lovely people and it would be a lot more relaxing!
Anyways...it was another beautiful morning and not cold at all as I started my way down the road. There wasn't much protection at the side of the road, but traffic was so scarce it was grand. Maybe I've got a bit accepting of how grand the NM/AZ scenery is and this came to roost when Rick came out for the second run and was having the constant sort of wow moments that I seem to maybe even take for granted. I resolved to appreciate things more, after all, who knows when there would come a day where I wasn't running? Despite some climbs, the overall tone of the day was downhill and this meant we set a pretty brisk pace that felt easy and I could tell Rick was buzzing (justifiably so) with his efforts as we approached the outskirts of Douglas, where the cyclists of Rancho Feliz hailed from. I'd decided that we didn't need to add unnecessary miles heading into town as I'd spied a more rural short cut, but we drove in to check out what seemed a nice little town, the guys went to the supermarket and I drank far too much from the soda fountain. We did an interview for the local paper and Bruce from the Douglas Dispatch came out to take some shots on the way out of town. I was sort of glad he did, just in case as a few miles later we went past the Arizona State Prison in Douglas, which Beer was very upset wasn't called a penitentiary. What a cool word – somewhere where you go to be penitent. Or have fights. Peculiarly this was located next door to Douglas-Bisbee Airport. You would not lock the A-Team up here, they'd be away in no time. I mentioned I was glad about evidence of an official reason to be in the area existed. I was a little worried that running away from a prison, dressed in orange in fading light would lead to an awkward set of questions, but I escaped unscathed by the time I reached Jenny, where the guys had parked up at the side of the road and not where I'd advised. This was because they thought the road didn't go anywhere. I was pretty sure it did, so we agreed to disagree and we parked up for the night in a slightly safer place, for each of the respective parties, pedestrian and vehicular to in the words if Fleetwood Mac “Go your own way” in the morning. Can you see where this is going?
Start: Highway 80, just after Boss Ranch. Finish: 7 miles short of McNeal on Highway 191. 33.4 miles
So. Good early start, me ready to have a great rural run rather than the pretty hectic 191 and the guys ready to meet me later. It seemed apt that on election day, we were faced with a divided camp and a decision to make. A mile and a bit down the road I realised that I'd backed the loser and the moral of the story is listen to SatNav, rather than Google Maps when following walking directions. If a road doesn't exist on SatNav, it doesn't exist, despite Google's protestations. I did get to read some interesting info on the Leslie Canyon Wildlife Refuge, dedicated to the preservation of fish, including the Yacqui Beautiful Shiner, but this didn't really help me much as I got back to the RV having done a few wasted miles. I wasn't in a bad mood though as first thing, it feels like it didn't count and I was excited about our end point, the whole reason for this route choice. We were heading to the Wild West - Tombstone, Arizona, the town too die. I'd decided to take the route via McNeal, rather than the one via Bisbee (The place recommended by our Swiss biker) which involved over 3000 feet of climbing in a few miles. There'll be enough mountains I can't avoid on this trip and well, sod it, I felt lazy!
The now Arizona spoilt Richard Beer wasn't as happy with his run today as the scenery wasn't quite as grand on the run he picked, there was a lot more of up than down and more traffic. I assured him, like Crocodile Dundee that THIS wasn't traffic. Maybe I'll get the opportunity somewhere on our shared journey to go “Now THIS, is traffic!”. A wicked wind was in our favour fortunately and as a measure of the strength of it, a tumbleweed encountered at the end of our run was caught down the road three and a half miles later after a half hour break! Rumours that the quality of our jokes influenced its progress are unsubstantiated. The road to Tombstone was a long and winding one, passing High Lonesome and Wild West Roads and many, many roadside posters telling us who was worthy of a vote. Not too many for Hillary in these parts! My arrival into Tombstone was pretty low key. No posse riding after me, no sheriff waiting to take me in, just Nads and Beer wanting me to hurry up so we could explore. I stopped for the day, running wise, at the scene of the gunfight at OK Corral in 1881, involving the Earp brothers (Including full-on badass Wyatt Earp, who only went to Tombstone for a quiet retirement), Doc Holliday and the naughty Clanton brothers and took place over 30 seconds at a range of SIX FEET. Christ. I never want to be in that situation. I wouldn't even want to be within six foot of a fist fight, thank you very much!
The big fight of the night was of course taking place in New York City and our plan was to head to a saloon to watch the results come in. As we wanted to be fair to all the establishments we decided to eventually visit four of them. Our first and last, was Doc Holliday's Saloon where our bar ma was actually called Forrest. He joined the army a few weeks after the film came out. How did you think that went for him? He said it was pretty appropriate his initials were FML. As we were telling him about the run and were writing some details down for him, a voice rumbled out to my right. “I'd sure like one of those”. The voice came from Marlin, a retired horse trainer, and musician who'd moved to Tombstone from Washington state. He'd been born 150 years to late he said and I wasn't going to disagree! Our meeting ended with me running out with the bag of dresses he told me he'd get into hot water with his missus if he left it in the bar, just before he got into his taxi…
we returned to DH's at the end for a couple more of the beers originally brewed in Tombstone (Now in Bisbee, of course) as a liquid equivalent of popcorn for the big show. Sat, incidentally, with some of the Roush Fenway Nascar team who were on their way to Phoenix, it appeared that things weren't going exactly to plan for the Democrats and as the fat lady began to go through her warm-up, the owner of the bar, whose allegiances were pretty clear offered everyone in the bar, shots. Of course, we are a professional athletic outfit, so we politely declined and retreated to the shelter of our beds, poker faces firmly on.
Start: 7 miles short of McNeal, on Highway 191. Finish: OK Corral, Tombstone. 37.2 miles
Total: 1580.44 miles