The Battle of Gettysburg

July 1, 2018

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

the start

It’s 6:45am. I’m getting a late start but I forgive myself for it. “A beginning,” Frank Herbert once wrote, “is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.” At the start of this adventure, I am willing to sacrifice slavish adherence to a relatively arbitrary timetable to invest extra care in ensuring the balances are correct.

I’m standing on Cemetery Ridge. My feet on the ground where a Union line of 10,000 men held strong against the onslaught of nearly 13,000 charging Confederate infantry. The violence that occurred here now exists only as memory, the kind you can feel, you feel it in the air. If a human being who knew nothing of this place were to be transported here, without a shred of context for where they stood, they would just know something terrible happened here. It’s impossible not to be affected by the peculiar energy of it, the solemn gravity of this fields. You are in the presence of ghosts. After all, this is a graveyard.

Yes, there’s a heaviness to this place but also something…romantic. Great and serious men sat astride powerful steeds shouting orders over the noise and tumult of battle. What boy hasn’t at one point imagined themself the central character in that kind of drama? This romance intoxicates and distracts from the abject horror of what actually occurred here. Estimates vary but it’s almost certainly true that more than 1,500 men died and 5,000 others were wounded in just about an hour of fighting. The Union troops held their ground and repelled the Confederate attackers. The dreaded Rebel Yell and the rest of it. The spot where I stand is called the “high-water mark of the confederacy,” which is to say this is the point of their deepest incursion into Northern territory. It represents their last best hope at victory. 

But there would be no victory. The Army of Virginia would be repulsed here, forced to retreat back across these beautiful fields which then and ever since were stained with blood, stinking with the remains of a mass of men in blue and in gray, men from all sorts of upbringings and faiths, passions and dreams and fears. The southern men would retreat over Seminary Ridge, down Fairfield Road. They would race to cross the Potomac and flee into the safe bosom of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Standing where they stood, the daunting nature of my task feels laughably minor. I am a runner and I want to run from this place, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to Arlington, Virginia, It is a journey of approximately 125 miles along the route I’ve designed. Tracing Lee’s retreat westward before heading south on the Appalachian Trail, I’ll travel down to the town of Boonsboro and then cut across 10 miles of country road to Antietam, a field of battle possibly more infamous than Gettysburg. The bloody precursor to the bloodshed at Gettysburg, Antietam is noteworthy most of all for being the site of the single greatest loss of life in a single day of American history (though even that battle is dwarfed by the losses of the three day battle of Gettysburg). From Antietam, I’ll trace the C&O towpath 70 miles or so to the home - now a literal graveyard - of disgraced Confederate General Robert E. Lee. I don’t have a great reason for picking that location as a terminus except that it somehow just feels right. It’s not meant to glorify the man or his deeds but rather consider them anew through the prism of my own physical suffering.

I chronicle the commencement of my trek on Instagram for a live audience of one or two. A social media heavy hitter I am not. 

I’ll have to accomplish this run, however long it takes, in temperatures above 90º with a heat index (un)comfortably over 100º. Everybody in my life is worried about the heat. I think they’re concerned for my physical safety, yes, but they’re also concerned for my mental wellbeing. I’m attempting this run about a year after a disastrous attempt at the hundred mile distance at the Eastern States 100 race. I took a bad fall a few miles in and trashed my knee. I was able to grit my teeth and hobble to over 100K in 18 hours or so before I had to pull the plug. That failure shook my confidence and made me seriously doubt my ability to cover 100 miles in a single effort. Today, I attempt to run twice as far as I’ve ever gone before. Every step I take beyond the cliffs at Weverton, across the Potomac River from Harpers Ferry will be my own “high-water mark.”

My social media obligations are fulfilled and I terminate the stream, stash the iPhone in my vest and bid farewell to my sister and brother-in-law who have driven me to the start to see me off. I’ll see again them in a few hours but first I have to run 18 miles. I see two women out for a jog. It just seems right to start this with fellow runners so I start both of my watches (one to track time and distance, the other as a backup and to track time of day at a glance) and run toward them. I’ve read the trick to this is to put one foot in front of the other for as long as you can bear it. It feels good to take those first steps. Whatever this journey is going to be, whatever it is that I hope to accomplish, it has begun.

In the presence of ghosts both real and imagined, I feel as if I cannot fail.

Gettysburg to Pen Mar County Park

mile 1 - 19

I scouted this section a few weeks ago during a reconnaissance run. It’s a route that roughly approximates the path of retreat of the Army of Virginia following the ruinous final day of battle. I travel down Fairfield Road (in 1863 a highway of mud and rock it is now a two-lane asphalt country road) and I take care on the narrow shoulder. Running against traffic to stay clear of bleary-eyed drivers, I notice many of them sport beards that wouldn’t look out of place in Lee or Meade’s armies. This being the 150th anniversary of the battle, I’m sure most if not all of them are re-enactors. 

The morning of my recce was overcast, with a chill in the air. Today is a different story, with heat forecast to be in the high nineties with an index well above a hundred. I know when the mercury touches ninety at 8:30am that it will not fall below that mark until dinnertime. I know that pushing for minutes now will cost me hours later so I run every conservatively and take care not to work hard.

Which isn’t to say it’s all easy. In fact, I’m surprised at how much focus I need to keep my form tight and attitude positive during some of the climbs. I’m a little peeved that a piece of dirt has found its way into my shoe and has given me a rare hotspot. It’s just a tiny blister but it feels anything-but with every step I take. Since this isn’t a race, I allow myself take the time to stop and wipe my foot clean and retie my shoe. I move gingerly up Jack’s Mountain, taking a moment to enjoy a fat piece of jerky and the tranquil farmland vistas beyond. 

I run cross the state line into Maryland and Pen Mar County Park feeling basically good. The heat is definitely a factor but I know ice and more water awaits and I give myself a pat on the back for not committing any unforced errors. What little bad luck I suffered shouldn’t do any damage that a change of socks and shoes won’t fix. 

The first section is complete and with it, roughly fifteen percent of the run is complete.

It’s a few minutes before 10am and I know my real work is about to begin.

Pen Mar County Park to Boonsboro on the Appalachian Trail

miles 19 - 42

I meet the first crew, my sister Lindsay and brother-in-law Zack, as well as my first pacer, Erin Kelman. Erin has the Leadville 100 coming up in a few weeks, so this is good training for him. I take my time switching out hydration packs. With potentially hours between aid stops, and water and food (as well as first aid) an absolute necessity, I trade my light pack for a much heavier one. I’m a little bummed to be carrying close to fifteen pounds but I don’t want to ask Erin to mule for me at this point and I figure we’ll be hiking quickly at best and a little extra heft isn’t going to break me. The freedom of this being a fun run is apparent at this first aid stop. In a race, I’d be keen to get in and out quickly but today I’m content to take my time. Minutes now, hours later.

After I’ve cooled down and sprayed myself with sunscreen and bug spray and changed my socks and my shoes (swapping my road-friendly Altra Duos for the long haul, trail-ready Altra Olympus 3.0s), Erin and I set off southbound on the Appalachian Trail.

Although we’ll only travel twenty of the two-thousand (plus) miles of this historic trail, I feel like our journey is worthy of the trail. Passing many thru-hikers who are in the middle of their own (and way, way, way harder) crucible is inspiring. They’re easy to spot, these souls caught between Springer Mountain in the south and Katahdin in the north. To me they look lighter and taller, as if their bodies were made of a miraculous material that could resist - but not defy - the forces of gravity. The audacity of their task and the presence in this moment carried them down or up this storied route.

I first ran along the AT almost exactly a year ago during an attempt at setting an FKT (fastest known time) on the section referred to as the ‘four-state challenge’: a 43 mile route from the Mason Dixon line on the Pennsylvania border, across Maryland, over the Potomac through Harpers Ferry West Virginia, across the Shenandoah and up a little mountain to the Virginia state line. It crosses across or into four states (hence its somewhat uninspired name). Erin and I are traveling on the first twenty miles or so of the challenge and I can’t help but reminisce about that successful attempt (though the record has since fallen to another runner*).

I concede the utility of a conservative approach in this suffocating heat and though these miles are perhaps slower than I’d like, they are pleasant. Signage warns of Copperheads and Rattlesnakes but none are to be seen today. Even a reptilian brain knows it’s stupid to be out in these conditions.

Relief comes soon, as we’ve planned an aid stop during this stretch. We meet my friends May and Melissa and their smiles and attitudes are almost as wonderful as their ice. I toss a handful of frozen cubes down my shorts. It’s a borderline religious experience. Tucking in my shirt, more ice in there - pure bliss. Melissa explains that they met a thru-hiker and told him about our adventure. He wanted to know what my name was. May said, “Adrian” and the hiker responded, “No… what’s his name?” 

There’s a tradition of hikers on the AT earning trail names during their time in the wilderness, and May and Melissa, being unaware of said tradition and  retorted that my name was “Crazy Legs.”

That explains that. Five minutes earlier, when a wizened hiker called me “Crazy Legs” as he passed, I thought he was making fun of my absurdly short and ostentatiously-styled running shorts. Instead, I had been accidentally granted a trail name after just ten miles on the AT. Some people have to bag several states before they earn theirs.

May and Melissa see how Erin and I look, and are feeling the heat themselves so they offer to meet us one more time at the road to Boonsboro. We are very happy to accept and after a few minutes (again, we are not rushing these aid stops), Erin and I set off again, planning to meet May and Melissa again in about ten miles. 

Ten miles which go by in a dream and without incident. With the exception of nearly faceplanting at one point when I was more concerned with the cliff bar I was unwrapping than with the ground beneath my feet, this section feels effortless and I’m really happy with how fun and joyful the day is turning out. I wasn’t taxing my body terribly at this easy pace and despite the heat, it feels wholly sustainable. We are falling well behind my most conservative effort but I accepted hours ago that the heat threw everything up in the air. I flirt with the idea of staying on the AT till the Weverton Cliffs to stay under the shade and even suggest to Erin that he turn the day into a 4-state run for himself, but we have people meeting us along the planned route through Boonsboro and Antietam and the logistics of rerouting folks and adjusting timetables is, at the moment, more daunting than the abstract notion of the country road frying pan between Boonsboro and Antietam and cutting 10-15 miles from the journey on a day where the heat index is north of 105º. And besides, running through Antietam feels important. 

We continue on, nearing the end of our trip on the the AT. I’ll be on it again later today, briefly, as it runs along the towpath between Harpers Ferry and Weverton. We meet May and Melissa on the side of narrow Boonsboro Mountain Road where Erin and I resupply and pick up our teammate and friend Auke for the two and a half mile jog to historic Boonsboro.

Boonsboro to C&O Canal via Antietam

mile 42 - 52

After a pitstop at Subway for a not-too-quick lunch, Erin and Auke and I part ways at starting line of the JFK 50. I hope to be back on this line in four and-a-half months for a much faster 50 mile run. I pick up another teammate, Lokesh Kumar, to run the eleven miles or so with me from Boonsboro to the C&O Canal via Antietam. 

It’s hard to describe the difference between the joy of the Appalachian Trail, with shaded soft trails and the totally exposed hard pavement that undulates between Boonsboro and Antietam. To borrow a scene from Lawrence of Arabia, it feels as if Lokesh and I are traveling across the Sun’s Anvil. Even a 9-minute-mile (a pace that is typically easy for me to sustain for practically forever) is difficult to maintain. I’m grateful Lokesh is good company and since we’re practically strangers, these miles are a good way to get to know each other. 

My cell phone buzzes. I’ve ignored it all day, but I see my brother-in-law Alex has called me. I’m almost ninety minutes behind schedule, and he’s keen for me to get to the towpath where he’s waiting with supplies so he can go home. 

ALEX: Where are you?

ME: I’m forty minutes away. (actually: more like an hour). 

ALEX: (sigh) Okay well when do you think you’ll get here?

ME: Five-Thirty. Six o’clock.

ALEX: (big sigh)

Now, I get the notion that I’m inconveniencing Alex, and I am. Just as I’m about to let him off the hook and ask him to stash the water somewhere, his girlfriend Rachel (a doctor) jumps on the line:

RACHEL: How are you doing?

ME: How am I? Uh. It’s really hot.

RACHEL: (a list of good questions I admittedly don’t remember)

ME: I’m good. See you in twenty minutes.

Signs promise the C&O Canal isn’t far and every new post feels like a lie but we continue forward. 

Soon, there is a breeze. In the distance, we can see the gap in the trees where the Potomac River cuts a path through the forest. The river is no longer an aspirational target but a reality. On the last stretch of road leading to the towpath, we are passed by a virtually endless convoy of pickup trucks carrying inner tubes and kayaks. The drivers and passengers are all sunburnt and many are visibly buzzed from a day of drinking beer on the water. 

We’re close. I run faster. And we make a turn and then I see it. The river! The canal! It’s here! It’s real! I run right past Alex and Rachel and my new pacer Michelle to the crushed gravel trail and I just have to kiss it. This is the symbolic halfway mark, if not truly the literal one. The exposed running in the heat was the hard part and I hope the hard part is over. I don’t realize how absurdly naive that thought is. I’ve still got more than seventy miles to Arlington.

The C&O Canal

mile 52 - 111

After resting for a few minutes, thanks and goodbyes to Lokesh and Auke and an informal medical exam courtesy of Rachel (she’s a pediatrician and that felt appropriate since what’s more childish - in the best possible way - than running around all day?), Michelle and I begin down the towpath toward Washington. Michelle is parked at Harpers Ferry which is about 12 miles from our current spot. She’s following on her bike and for the first time all day, I’m able to ditch my heavy hydration pack and run a little more naturally. I didn’t realize how heavy it was until I take it off and run a mile or two without it. Once shed of the pack, I feel light and nimble. It’s glorious.

I run. Michelle follows me in a bike, regaling me with tales of recent race victories, filling me in on health scares and I bore her to death raving about past glories, how great the JFK 50 is and trying to convince her to race it (we are, after all, traveling part of it in reverse at the moment). The conversation is (as it’s happily been all day with all my crew and pacers) effortless and enjoyable. I realize at this point that I’ve had ten people join me out on this route so far. Their encouragement and energy has been a salve and has kept me joyful and light. It’s been a great day with friends and nothing that follows tonight or tomorrow that will change that. 

Michelle and I part ways at Harpers Ferry. In 1859, John Brown and his abolitionist band seized the town armory, killed a night watchman and barricaded themselves in the town’s firehouse. Every single man was eventually killed or captured, Brown was himself hung in the presence of Robert E. Lee and J.E.B Stuart. The first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, but Harpers Ferry was where the war truly began. Seeing it across the Potomac at sunset on this day is special. 

I continue on for a few miles until I meet my Aunt and Uncle and Nephew who have a dehydrated dinner and a beer waiting for me. I take about a half an hour (too long) to recharge, get my nighttime gear in order, change shoes and socks and fill them all in on the day so far. They tell me that somebody told them the towpath ahead is washed out. (Uh oh) That wasn’t on the website, and I didn’t hear about it until now. I’m worried I’m going to have to rely on a car to get me around it, which would really suck. No, I wouldn’t do that, I’d have to go around on sideroads. That would add mileage but it would keep it pure. Maybe I could swim around it in the Potomac?

I say we’ll figure it out when we get there. They agree to meet me down the way and assist as needed. 

And it isn’t long until I meet them on the towpath again. My uncle is walking toward me. He says there’s a sign warning of a wash out - impassable trail - ahead. The sign says this hazard is less than a mile away and that the trail is closed. Despite the cones the persistently blinking orange LED lights and officious-looking signage, we decide we should walk until we meet it. As we do, I consider the options. If we hit a real impasse and the trail is truly out then I can either hitch a ride around it and subtract the distance from my grand total or run around it on the adjacent roads. Neither option is appealing. It occurs to me I’m overthinking it. Just keep moving until you hit it. 

The signage promises that we’ll hit the issue about a mile down and at this point we’d travelled close to two. I confidently conclude, “there’s no washout, this is all a crock of shit.” I send the crew to the hotel for the night. I’ll be fine.

A few minutes later, I see a headlamp in the dark. It approaches with speed. It’s a little sketchy at first but when they holler, I realize it’s my crew/pacer Dan, who I wasn’t expecting for a few miles. He tells me that there is in fact a big ugly hole in the path ahead, but that we can get around it with legally dubious maneuvering on a railroad track. 

Not even a full minute later, we meet the washout and it is an impressive sight: a veritable hellmouth. Dan leads the way to the left, off trail and we scramble across stone and rock and up a little hill to the railroad. Looking down the track we see bright lights approaching. A hundred runners with headlamps, come to lend their support, or a freight train. In what’s never a rush or in the least bit panicked but nevertheless deliberate and sober, we retreat down the side of the rail hill and perch on a few sturdy rocks. 

The train is nearer by the second. A horn leads the roar of the engine, blaring once - here we come, twice - ya’ll better get a move on, three times - okay this is it. In a moment that seems to take forever to arrive but once it does, it seems to have been the natural order of all things since the dawn of time and will be so in perpetuity henceforth.

A friend of mine was killed by a train. It was college and it was one of those freak things. I find my thoughts drifting to his funeral, to the car ride home after the service with a friend, both of us heavy with grief and indescribably angry about the senselessness of it. What I didn’t understand then but understand now in this moment is that you can feel safe ten to twenty feet away from a freight train moving at speed. But, of course, you are not safe. Freak stuff happens. Objects can fall off or be deflected by and away and hurtling into soft meat. So why don’t we move? Why don’t we retreat to the path behind us and wait it out.

Because this is why we do this. We want to BE in the moment where life just is and there’s no yesterday or tomorrow but just a great big endless now. Looking up at the stars while a six-thousand ton marvel of transportation engineering powers by is a moment where time stood still. It’s the kind of moment I’ve been hunting for, and the kind of memory I’ll keep.

July 2, 2018

The train passes and we continued.

Dan paces alongside on his bike. We are rolling through miles. Occasionally I stop to walk a minute or retrovision but basically we’re always moving and making good time. The nearly two hour deficit I casually hiked my way into when the sun was out has now vanished. We’re back on pace and soon ahead of it. I have a goal now that I didn’t realize was important to me when I started but is critical now - and eminently achievable - I can run 100 miles is less than 24 hours. 

Traveling 100 miles on foot in less than a day. That’s the mark I had in my head and heart when I decided I wanted to try to travel the century distance on foot. This might not be a particularly challenge hundred mile route, but it’s not a total gimme either, and I wasn’t sure about my fitness or ability going in, so to go sub-24 in my first full hundred mile run would be a great confidence booster.

And it’s in sight. So I say the words to Dan at around mile 80. “I wanna break 24. I’m looking at that.” He kind of laughs, not in a cruel way, I think, but in a way that makes me think he a) thinks that’s awesome and b) possibly a little aggressive. There’s lots of running between here and there and anything could go wrong. But a little after midnight, knowing that I’m essentially racing the sun to a hundred miles, I commit.

A little later, I meet an old friend who has met me with a trunk full of candy and energy drinks. I haven’t seen Nick in years and I don’t think of him as a runner but he tells me he’s started to run this year and that he’s inspired by what I’m doing.

He’s there at three in the morning and I don’t really appreciate how late (early?) it is. But I understand this is special: to inspire something in others, to have friends who want to see it up close and first-hand, that this is the culmination of one thing and, perhaps, the start of another.

A mile down the road, I meet Dan for a real(ish) meal of rehydrated stew at a campsite beyond Whites Ferry. I’m tired but determined. I feel like I’m “on” and ready for whatever is next. When I designed this run, I selected this point as a good mark to stop for a while and rest, maybe even lay down for a few hours of sleep. But now that I’m here I want nothing else but to eat quickly and continue. I have about 15 miles to go to get to a hundred miles.

15 miles to go. I clock a few good miles and a few poor ones. I never feel too low or too high. I’m exhausted, to be sure, but up to the task. Dan is stalwart, riding along on his bike. His presence is never too much and never too little. He’s motivating and present while being quiet and invisible at the same time. To take nothing away from my other pacers or crew, who are all phenomenal, I think that he’s performing this role the way I would want to do it and I hope one day will. 

I cross mile 98 and my watch reads 22 hours and change. It’s coming up on 5am and sunlight is glowing the edge of the sky. I’m going to hit 100 miles for the first time as the sun rises above the Potomac. I couldn’t ask for a better time or place to cross this off the bucket list. Dan senses that I’m close and without talking about it, he leaves me to myself.

I have probably dreamt about this moment at least once a day for the past five years. Ever since I started this silly hobby, reading about the Leadville 100 in Born To Run, I’ve been fascinated with finding out what it takes to complete this distance in a single effort. Now that I’m here, I think what I’ve learned is that there isn’t a single great secret. It’s the culmination of a thousand little efforts and lessons learned from hundreds of hours and thousands of miles of training, trial and error. It also isn’t, as I suspected it would be, a solitary affair. It’s a selfish pursuit to be sure, but it’s necessarily a communal one. It’s impossible (or exponentially more difficult, to the point of being practically impossible) to do this without help. It’s not the General who wins the battle, but all of the people on the line. 

I dreamt about what it would feel like to be that strong and determined and to succeed at a goal most people would tell you is impossible. When I met the moment, I was surprised to learn it’s as much about everybody else as it is about you. The depth and profundity of the gratitude that springs from that knowledge is hard to describe.

My watch ticks over to triple digits just under twenty two hours and thirty minutes. The sun has crested over the horizon and the world is alive around and within me. I won’t forget dawn on the morning of July 2, 2018 for as long as I live.

I meet up with Dan and two new pacers, Joe and John, less than a mile beyond the century mark. I thank Dan for letting me have my hundredth mile to myself. He gets it and that’s pretty cool.

It’s an odd experience to welcome new runners to a journey that’s already covered triple digits. The difference between their freshness and my existential exhaustion is a little off-putting. That isn’t too say I’m not grateful for the help and hands (I really am). But I’m just not feeling right. It’s hard to keep calories down. We are running right into the rising sun and the heat. 

The heat. 

Up to this point, I have accepted the heat as a given circumstance. It cannot defeat me if I pay it the respect it deserves and run at a slower pace than I might otherwise. What I have not accounted for in the pre-dawn running, when I was feeling so strong and good, is that the heat never went away. Only my respect for the heat did. Hours later the sun was up and respect was due. I forgot this was a 125 mile run and turned it into a 100 mile race and that carelessness would cost me.

The next ten miles are excruciating. I can’t run for more than a hundred meters at a time. The top of my right foot throbs with every step and I’m having a hard time and its a bad way taking in calories. It was a case of physical disinterest and mental ambivalence. Dan helpfully suggests I just keep consuming liquid calories and if I hadn’t made that change, I would have dropped earlier.

At Old Anglers Inn, 28 hours and 111 miles into the run, less than 14 miles away from my destination, I decided to quit. I was miserable and had difficulty moving. I had covered nearly double my previous best single-effort mileage and I was full and content. I was also worried about my foot, cautious of instigating long-term damage. 

It was over. An EMT-certified passerby took up a conversation and offered to take my heart rate. It was elevated but not terrifyingly so, I was simply hot and exhausted and done. The most dramatic thing about the decision is how un-dramatic it was. It just was. When it was done, I couldn’t really quantity it. It had too much joy and wonderful surprises and friends to consider a failure but at 111.5 miles, it was still 14 miles away from my ultimate goal. 

So I can’t quite consider it a success. 

That’s the competitive, ego-driven part of my brain talking, and although most days it’s not a loud voice, somedays it’s the only voice. I would be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge that reaction on my part.

All I know is that it felt right in the moment, and my last thought before drifting to sleep was that I had made the right choice.

October 2018

I find it is considerably difficult to write about this months removed from the run. Time has already begun to rob my memory of detail and leaving in its inexorable wake simply color, a feeling. And the feeling I had on July 2nd is largely the feeling I have today: that it was a wonderful adventure. It was the culmination - and a celebration - of a lot of hard work. It also opened the door to other exciting adventures on foot.

I’d been legitimately scarred by my experience DNFing at Eastern States. I have become ever-so-more risk averse and quick to play it safe. Looking at 14 miles in truly bad heat and humidity, with a foot that ached intensely with nearly every step, I took the safe way out. I don’t necessarily consider it a failure. 

General Lee found himself blind at Gettysburg. His Calvary’s absence meant he was in unknown territory. In the face of this existential uncertainty, he chose aggression. On the third day, Pickett led a suicidal charge in a last-ditch effort to turn the battle. It was a failure and stands to this day as one of the cataclysmic failures in military history. Lee couldn’t check his ego and ambition and let them rule him and lead him into disaster.

It was a fate I was not willing to endure. So, facing the unknown myself, fifty miles deeper in the hole than I’d ever run before, Lee’s failure at Gettysburg engendered in me a sense that discretion was the greater part of valor. I wasn’t willing to risk my health for those last 14 miles. I felt in a deep and real sense that I had gotten what I came for, even if I didn’t realize what that goal really was until the sun rose on the second day. I wanted to cover 100 miles in less than a day and I had finally accomplished that.

Not all battles end with decisive victory or defeat and this was no different. I fought to a draw and survived to fight another day.

And I will. I plan to revisit this route in 2019 or 2020. I’m aware that President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address in late November and I have to admit, Gettysburg to DC on a cool November day sounds like a great adventure indeed.

Adrian Spencer