Monday, December 31, 2007

Slug Course fraught with danger...

...i was out this morning, snooping around the course. wet leaves are still covering the foot hazards, and the wooden walkways (over the swamps) are like ice. you can skate across them, and one slip, you're going over the edge. all in all, the trail is in fair / good shape. till you get to the last half mile. construction continues! so i sneaked around looking for a good path to cross back over to the start / finish area. due to the increased pond-monster sightings ranger rick has guard dogs and snipers posted. we definitely won't be sneaking through the construction site. so, i found an old trail, maybe a quarter mile long to hash through. i'm gonna call it the gary cantrell section (if you don't know who g.c. is then you need to come to my house after the run and drink some brew.) i wish all a happy new year. be careful out there this evening, if you're going out. i want to see ya next saturday. happy days, john.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Final Preparations underway for ’08 Fattest Butt….

The course appears to be in fair/good condition, though there is continuing construction on a short stretch. This will create a minor detour, but won’t add significantly to the mileage. Pokey and I were out on it yesterday, and there are a lot of leaves covering the roots, stumps, and other assorted bumps. This means, especially if it’s wet, you’ll probably need to slow down a bit and be extra careful. While the course is basically flat, there are some very short hills (up and down); and stretches of wooden walkway (covering swampy areas) that when wet get slick as sh(i)t. No joke, if not careful you could easily break something out there. Nearly each non-event someone departs good ole Dela-where requiring a couple of stitches. Makes for great pics, but we don’t want anyone hurt.

OK, you’ve seen the non-event instructions below. This is NOT a race. We’re a small gang of slugs / potential slugs; out for a long winter’s run. Please check in promptly at 800 AM in the main parking lot, one mile inside the main entrance of the park. I’d love to get you all started by 820, definitely no later than, 830. Following each loop, I ask that you check in with whoever’s keeping the times. I’m a runner myself, and know exactly how we are. We may be non- competitive as haile, but we still want our times right. I can dig that. However, we will be operating fat ass format, skeleton crew, and need your assistance.

TSI will supply pond-water and stale bread, though Pokey (and she knows) advises you not to drink it. Please bring whatever food / drink stuff you need to finish. A communal table will be set up if you would like to bring anything to share.

There is no time limit, but the park closes at dark. You’ll have approximately eight hours to finish. If you are not finished, we will move the vehicles outside the park, and somehow we’ll work out a deal to let you finish. There is no reason to quit, except you don’t want to run no more.

All first-time finishers will have an opportunity to buy the slug shirt, and if you’re one of the vets I’ve got some sweet 2008 Finisher Slug-Muggs. Also a few truckers’ hats are left over from the fall if you’re interested. All are Ten U.S. Dollars, or trade, in-kind. Other TSI logo apparel may be purchased on-line at CafĂ© Press.

Finally, I appreciate you taking the time out of your winter schedule and joining us for this non-event. We always have a good time, and I’m excited to be seeing some old friends, and meeting some new ones. If you have any questions / concerns my home number is (302)678-3325, and my cell number morning of race is (302)399-6409. See ya in less than a week.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Chief Army Slug checks in...

...and will not be attending Fattest Butt. That means the field is wide open, and we could be welcoming a new champ into the fold. Mark sends the following greetings:

Dear Da' Hitman,

Nearly settled in San Antonio; nice to be focused on a
different part of world for a change. The middle east
was starting to wear on me. Wanted to pass along my
holiday wishes. Unfortunately, I will not be able to
make this years fattest butt. I will however be
thinking of you all as I attempt the Bandera 100K on the
same day. Hopefully the race director won't keep on
telling me I'm running too slow; always a tough crowd
at the pond!

Have a great new year,

Chief Army Slug

Mark Crisman

{...and of course, he's referring to nearly breaking four hours,
and then having the non-event director (Ms.Lisa, my personal favorite
Non-Event Director in the whole world) tell him he's slowing down.
It really was funny; but suppose you had to be there...}

Of course, as the years pass; the "words between the two" will
become more and more exaggerated, until they are outright lies.
It's the Slug-Way.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas Sluggos ...

Yes, it's true ... Santa is a Slug. Don't act surprised; check out his bee-hind in this picture. Probably the Original Fattest Butt. Happy Days Friends, and Merry Christmas.


Monday, December 24, 2007

2008 Fattest Butt Instructions...

1. This is a Non-Event in the truest of olde-tyme fat ass fashion. This is a group of friends getting together on a winter morning to complete a long run. Due to the lack of ultras in the First State we will have a timekeeper, and results will be posted on the internet and submitted to Ultrarunning Magazine. UR has for many years, been kind enough to support our small band of stragglers. This will allow those attempting to complete a marathon / ultra in fifty states to notch up Delaware. It is NOT an official event. It will NOT qualify you for Boston.

2. There will be no numbers for you to wear, no aid stations, and no markings on the course. If you see Ranger Rick wish him a fine day; but remember, we are not holding an organized race. We are olde & new friends, sluggos, out getting some early season exercise. This is one rule Team Slug has never had to exaggerate about. We have been disorganized from Day One.

3. The course is not marked. It is a hiking path around a pond. It is mostly flat, and certainly must be considered one of the easiest fifty k’s in the world. Ten loops, with access to your aid after each five kilometers. Team Slug will supply pond water and stale bread. If you need any special food / fuel to finish; please bring it. Feel free to bring extra; there will be a communal table. There is NO time limit, but the park closes at dark. If necessary, we will move vehicles outside of park to a nearby school; and assist you in finishing your run. We’d prefer you not quit.

4. Again, this is NOT a real race. There is NO entry fee. That’s right, it is FREE. Bandits are encouraged to participate. There are no particular rules. Cheating in an ultra is completely defeating the purpose. However, if you complete the tenth lap in less than four hours; you will either be disqualified, or allowed to complete one more lap. We don’t want any more fast slugs; we’ve got enough of them.

5. If you finish ten laps; you are authorized (not required) to purchase the World-Famous 100% Cotton, Black Team Slug T-Shirt. At that point; you will be scarred for Life / a Marked Ultra-Runner / a Slug Forever. Be aware hundreds of the finest and lousiest ultra runners in the world have earned this shirt. If you already have a T-Shirt, a 2008 TSI Finisher’s mugg will be available for purchase. We have a few truckers’ hats left over from the fall also, if you prefer one of those. These are available for Ten U.S. Dollars each. Trades in kind considered.

6. Please be at the main entrance of Killen’s Pond State Park in Kent County, Delaware by 0745 on Saturday morning. The gates usually open about 0800, and we should get the run started by 0830. Please don’t ask me for directions. Delaware is a small state. If you can’t find the park, it wouldn’t be safe for you to be near the pond. I will have my cell phone on that morning if you need to reach me. The number is (302)399-6409.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The field is set for the 18th Fattest Butt....

Congrats to all...
Details in next week...or so !!!

...The Lucky Twenty-Nine....
Fattest Butt Confirmed Victims:

1. Amanda Bundek, DE
2. Derek Hills, MD
3. Louis D'Onofrio, NJ
4. Gilles Barbeau, Vancouver, BC
5. Jess Manning, DE
6. Josh Dennis, NJ
7. Phillip Hesser, MD
8. John Straub, DE
9. Debbee Straub, DE
10. Larry Macon, GA
11. Mike Kulakowski, PA
12. Meredith Murphy, USA
13. Edward Murphy, USA
14. A.J. Johnson, NJ
15. Jeff Holloway, NJ
16. Carl Camp, DE
17. Alisa Springman, PA
18. Miguel Gomez Verdun, VA
19. Andrea Berninger, NC
20. Terri Hayes, SC
21. Frank Gousman Jr, NJ
22. Staci Rudnitsky, NYC
23. Lloyd Thomas, OH
24. Richard Monroe, MD
25. Anders Grant, MD
26. Patti Lipschutz, PA
27. Aaron Lipschutz, PA
28. Eugene Bruckert, IL
29. Craig See, DE

Friday, December 14, 2007

pokey crawls out of swamp....

on hands and knees, barely breathin'...and reports disturbing phenomena. hitman went in with her on saturday morning, and has not been seen since. he apparently disappeared while taking a "main-drain" down at the water's edge. the fbi has NOT been notified, because of other "outstanding issues in virginia, florida, and the phillipines involving ranger rick, pink ribbons, coconut-covered marshmallows, and naked ladies." BIGGER PROBLEMS LURK ... pokey is reporting something slogging around in the slug-pond, and IT definitely "ain't" da'hitman. IT appears to be a large fish-monster of some sort, scaley and green, with large bug-eyes and a tail about eight feet long. this of course would explain the missing downstate delaware geese. regardless of all this "likely criminal behavior" the non-event will go on. pitiful sluggos will plod all day long, and finish the slug course. some will be lost forever in the forest, wandering out in the spring; looking ghoulish, distraught, and emaciated. and, likely; they'll have on the same black slug shirt, ripped, shorn, and hanging over a beatin' heart inside a bag of bones. friends ... this AIN'T pretty stuff ... please !!! for Goodness SAKES ... find something else to do on the first saturday in january. coming here for the SHIRT can lead to no good; DO NOT DO IT !!!! this is your last warning.... flatfoot freddie....

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ted Corbitt --- courtesy of Rich Innamorato

Dear Friends,

Today the music has died.........for the running community and for humanity.
Ted Corbitt has sadly passed away at the age of 88 at the MD Anderson Center
in Houston, TX. He bravely was fighting a personal battle against cancer,
but had developed heart and respiratory complications which could not be

I was able to visit Ted this past Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. It was
heartbreaking to see this giant of a man in a hospital bed. When he first
saw me, he amusingly asked, "You flew?" I am a notorious bad flyer, and Ted
had witnessed some of my previously anxieties. I responded, "Weren't you
glad that you weren't in the seat next to me."

I greatly thank you for all your heartfelt messages, and so did Ted. He was
not able to read them, so I read each one to him with a brief introduction
of the "writer" of each message. Your words were very comforting.

We all know his legendary feats as a runner, but he was even a far greater

He was a humanitarian. One of his great gifts was not to prejudge people
just as he would not want to be prejudged. He accepted you for who you were
and allowed you to be yourself.

He was healer..... and dedicated his life to provide cure and comfort to the
critically disabled and injured. He was still treating patients just before
his latest illness.

He was a scholar. He had a great propensity to "learn" no matter the
subject matter. His own success, whether it was cerebral or physical, was
due to that desire to learn. And how he could apply the newly-found
information the next time.

He was a marvel. How he would push his limits no matter the obstacles.
Even as an octogenarian, he walked 303 miles in 6 days while enduring shin
splints. Life was a series of tests for him, and it was the partaking that
was the most important not the passing or failing.

He led by example every single day, and his character, dedication, kindness
and values all touched our lives. We are richer to know him or know of him.

May he always live in peace and be blessed by God. I will greatly miss him.


Rich Innamorato

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

ROCKSTAR checks in !!!

...ok all ya hardcore sluggo-fans. The ROCKSTAR (Honorary Slug allniteywoblius) has registered, and has promised a guest appearance..."to burn off a few brewskies." as many of ya know he is the founder, and race director, of the First States ONLY "One Hundred Mile-Run." while his 8 X 10 autographed glossies are currently going for $129.95 on e-bay; he's promised to make a dozen or so available at $75.00 flat-fee. of course, there's no tax in delaware. remember the ROCKSTAR only accepts "dollar bills," only goodness knows what he does with them. as always, John Clark and the Governor has been invited. More details coming!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

don't mix insanity with beer....

...or you get these types of letters...

Forest Gump said...
As your newest victim it’s important to remember that I have been coerced into running this non event. I don't even like to run. Your slugger from last year AJ Johnson has guilted me into the event threatening to alert our entire community that I have become comfortable and accustomed to sloth. Consider the results of last event I was forced to participate in. I was found, suffering from heat exhaustion, aimlessly wandering a rest stop along the Garden State Parkway, mumbling incoherently with the juice of a BK Whopper dripping from my mouth. There is serious concern about my mental well being. This weekend when I told some friends about the non event they affectionately asked what my problem was. Consider yourselves fore warned. This weekend , after only four hours of sleep I was dragged out onto the muddy trails in South Seaville, NJ by AJ and forced to run under duress. I was not sure if puking was appropriate but around the 13th mile I was seriously considering lying down in the sand and taking a nap. I would have if I had not already begun suffering from the classic symptoms of hyperthermia. I will be doing my best to complete the coarse. I would suggest that all who attends bring an extra meal or reserve a room so that you are comfortable while waiting for me to limp across the finish. If you find me on the trail with my heel smacking me in the back of my head in complete agony just leave me there. Until then I'll continue preparing as best I can. Does anyone know if the local hospital accepts HORIZON PPO's?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

pokey-slug on recon mission this saturday... the fattest butt 50k creeps closer. pokey will be out scouting around, observing ranger rick movement throughout the slug forest. recent ice and snow has the trail mighty slickery. we sent wrong-way charlie out sunday morning, but haven't seen him since. best to keep a close eye on cnn, or fox news. he has a bad habit of climbing the fence at the white house. which, i don't mind; except when he's wearin' his slug shirt. see, i don't like those black helicopters hovering around my house. anywho, the days are flyin' by; and the field is nearly set. i expect to post full directions to this blog by the last week of december. that should give all victims plenty of time to change their minds. from the frozen tundra of central delaware...
flattest foot freddie. all questions, comments, and threats to ""

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

2007 SI Sportsman of Year...

while disappointed ole' flatfoot freddie wasn't named SI Sportsman of the Year...Team Slug congratulates Mr. Brett Favre!...a World-Famous Team Slug t-shirt is on it's way to Mr.Favre. Additionally, Mr. Favre is offered free lifetime entry into any Official Team Slug non-event. No doubt, he'd attend Fattest Butt; however, he's still playing with the Pack. And, what a season he's having! Good Luck ole buddy!!!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, November 25, 2007

tell me why you run everyday.....

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Today I wandered back out onto the Super-Secret TSI training compound here in Central Delaware. It's really a beautiful area of this old world --- you may say, postcard perfect. Full of pines, hardwoods, and a serene pond; full of mirrored water. Critters jumping, running, and sounding off in their native tongues. On this cold mid-Atlantic morning, I encountered deer, squirrels, and a large red fox. The woodpeckers were out in force, staking their claims to corners of the forest; apparently unaware of my presence as they carried out their noisy duties. And, at such an early hour; not another human was seen. It's easy to think of this as a perfect place to run; the path blanketed with fallen leaves, winding around a quaint body of water; with perfect views at every bend. But....

...this is not what makes this part of the First State an inspirational place to train. Because there have been so many other parts of the country, and world; that I have loved to run in. What makes this place special is the same thing that made my thousands of miles on Noland Trail and Seashore State Park; or, my many thousands of miles in Blackwater State Forest special. Rather, it was the people I shared the times with.

As a runner, it's difficult not to remininse; no doubt, many of you understand exactly how i feel. Running is passionate, so alive; so breathtaking. Sharing it becomes intimate. We know each other at our best; and our worst. We've struggled together, and shared incredible joy together. Runners have been my best friends for over twenty years now. I like them.

And, today was one of those days when it all came back. For all the emotional distress, and pain, of the past several months; today was a good day. Recalling special friends and special times; and remembering that today i am exactly where i'm supposed to be. As are you. And we're all OK; doing the best that we can. Each morning when i look in the mirror, i say a prayer for each of you, and for me. That we may all keep our hearts open to giving and receiving love. If you're reading this, then you've made a difference in my life (or you will); and i appreciate you. That you can be sure of.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

42 days till Fattest Butt '08

frost on the pumpkin's ; this mornin'....
details posted on this site by 12/15.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dear Mr. Hitman,

After much discussion and coercion, I am officially throwing my name, as well my wife's name (Debbee), into the hat for the Fattest Butt 08 run. The snowshoes are ready, with sharpened edges to handle the steep glacial hills of Delaware. Ice axes will be out in an attempt to ward off the killer squirrels, but I only have 6000 feet of rope... Hopefully the global warming turns quickly so that it is cooler than last years jungle. I am also trying to recruit anyone else foolish enough from work to show up like Aggie Slug Leif did last year - so far there are no takers...

By the way, we saw your undercover arse at JFK, and ran into many other slugs out and about during the run.

Have a great Thanksgiving and Holiday season, and we will see you in January!

Talk to you later,

John Straub

p.s. dude; those hunter s. thompson sunglasses gotta go :)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Sluggos...

...and what a beautiful day it is. I stuck my "big bird" in the oven at six a.m. ; and was outside on the trails. wobbling along through the forest, smiling like a madman; just like the olde days. i am still fat; but i feel good, and i've been here before. i am on my way back; and life is good. cain't lie; '07 was a rough year, and i won't mind seein' it go; but, '08 is gonna be a great one, i can feel it.
today i am thankful for so much; my family, my health, and my friends. and, that includes each of you. time is precious; so if you're taking the time to read this; turn to your family and take the time to tell them how much you care. we are passing through; i promise you. the day is coming when we don't wake up; and it's o.k. ... so, let's make today count!
happy days, da' hitman

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Threats, Lies, and Letters to the Editor...

Dearest Slug Brother!

Due to a slight lack in judgement (err. . .running JFK), I'm currently fiberglassed up to the left knee and in desperate need of some ginger brandy and cute nurses adorned with the rumored "TeamSlug Thong". Despite Pokey Slug's acute warnings, I ran the darned thing anyhow and managed to break my fibula around mile 15. As stubborn as I am, I decided to just try to beat it into submission (it worked when I twisted my ankle at the RBC 50K), but that apparently isn't a good thing to do when the bone is fractured. So, I hobbled along to mile 27, when our dear Pokey played the role of Florence Nightingale and came sprinting to my rescue.

Anyhow, I don't think I'll be up for running the January Fattest Butt. However, I wouldn't miss it for the world. I do intend to show up and egg the able bodied folk on in whatever capacity I can. In addition, I have had two lovely young ladies promise their attendance. Their names are:

Meredith Murphy--King of Prussia PA, and
Andrea Berninger--from somewhere in VA (warning, she's fast, and although this is her first ultra, i can almost guarantee we'll need to throw an extra loop in for her).

Hope all is well, and I hope you have a great Turkey Day!


Down and Durty Slug


Dear Bro' Da Hitman,

Were you undercover at the JFK this past weekend? I did see Sistah Pokey Slug,
but didn't realize that you might have been there; and, stealthily leaving your snail trail around
and about.

Anyway, you might have learned that I did the distance once again in
slime time, just under the final cutoff at 11:47. It was a great day
out - and the evening was just as good, getting my fill of carbs,
protein, and alcohol at the Bavarian restaurant in Hagerstown.

Anyway, Sistah Pokey Slug took advantage of my disoriented state to
take some snaps of my sorry backside somewhere in the middle miles. (It
is irrelevant that I might have waved it at her in greeting, since my
hands were taken up with my canteen and a large handful of potato

I hope that this gesture won't be taken amiss as I once again put my
hat in the ring (or my pseudopod on the line) for the event in January.
If I haven't compromised the customary standards of conduct of the
inveterate invertebrates, I would look forward to meeting you in January
at the usual rendezvous spot near a certain Delaware body of water.

For now, here's hoping that you add me to your roster (waiving the
character requirement) and have a nice Thanksgiving. Warm sluggish
regards to you and Sis PS, Bro' Sir Sweet Cheeks

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Always calling me home....

What a perfect day at JFK. Nice temps, nice breeze; and tons of nice people. In fact, 1070 finishers; incredible! Recreational runners and serious athletes, olde friends, and friends that have moved on; people I've known for over twenty years; and people I've met at Slug events this year. What a beautiful life!
Running changes our perceptions of the world around us. It makes good times great; and makes the hard times acceptable. I've been struggling for so long; it's good to smile and laugh; and see those old familiar faces. Looking down through the finisher's roster is like a family reunion. And those olde familiar names bring joy to my heart. I am so happy for each of you. I understand the magnitude of the accomplishment; and cherish it, just like you. So tonight my friends; congratulations! I hope your holiday season is the best ever. From Team Slug, and The Hitman; happy days, flattest foot freddie.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fattest Butt... T minus 59 days !!!

...that's less than two months for you smart sluggos; so the planning must begin. flatfoot freddie has been in consultation with The Weather Channel, and an old witchdoctor friend in n'oleans. they seem to agree on one thing. fatt butt day is gonna be colder and wetter than last year's non-event.

it wouldn't be unusual for us to have a foot or two of snow on the trail. which, normally wouldn't be a problem; except for the extremely steep drop-offs, and treacherous precipices that often form; up to six feet thick; as glacial ice overtakes the deepest and darkest forest. throw in the central delaware womkpon wolves; and you're taking your life in your own hands. in fact; i certainly advise you not to come. and, if you must; then definitely bring cold weather gear, 7000 yards of high-tensile climbing rope, crampons; and at least a weeks supply of dried beans. any less, is just too dangerous. remember; no firearms in the park... it's probably safe to bring a crossbow.

for first time sluggos; beware, this is NOT a race. this is a non-event. we make normal fat-ass events, look like the london marathon. this is BE-Low key. if you finish, if you come out of the woods alive, and if ya got ten u.s. dollars; for your efforts, you will receive the "World Famous, 100% cotton, Team Slug T-Shirt." if there is some food / drink you need to finish; please bring it. i assure you we will not have it; as with all slug events we will serve stale bread, and pond water (unless it's frozen).

If you've told me your coming; all good; but shoot me a quick note, confirming; and i look forward to seeing you in january. remember this event is limited to the first 39,500 entrants. (so register early) we hope to surpass the nyc starting field. and yes, katie holmes has been invited; and no, lance hasn't. team slug don't want no girly bike riders in our forest.

happy days, the big brown pony...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Thoughts / Prayers in San Diego

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Team Slug sends our most sincere wishes for the safety of families, firefighters, and all those involved in the catastrophic firestorms in Southern California. We have many friends there, as San Diego is home to the Flatlanders (of T.J.Key fame), our direct predecessors and inspiration for all these years of friendship and running. Please be safe, and please be in touch.

Friday, October 19, 2007

and then the vulture eats you...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

John L. Parker, Jr. is the editor of an entertaining little book about ultramarathons, And Then The Vulture Eats You, published in 1999. It includes eight essays by various authors about some ridiculously long pedestrian expeditions. The book's title comes from John Parker's own hilarious article about the historic clash of cultures between "Track Men", who took their speedwork seriously, and classic marathoners, who in contrast:

... affected facial hair and wire-rimmed glasses ... had Ph.D.s in arcane fields ... reveled in the obscurity of their event ... [and] didn't care if you beat them! They seemed almost proud of the fact that they weren't very fast. Their knowing smiles and ethereal comments implied a mystical wisdom that could only be won in that grandaddy, that king, that ultimate of all long-distance challenges. Oh, we could win our little races and have our fun, but we could never know True Enlightenment until we had personally experienced the Great Big Mystical Unbelievably Impossible Kahuna.

Parker then describes the Ultimate Runner competition, a one-day sequence of races at 100 meters, 400 meters, 1 mile, 10 kilometers, and finally a 26.2 mile marathon. Competitors in each event get points based on how their times compare with the world record in that event. But for your score to count, you have to finish every race.

So, as Parker quotes ultrarunner Don Kardong:

"The marathon is like a vulture sitting on your shoulder during all the other events. And then at the end of the day, the vulture eats you."

i can't lie; i love this book. and, i've given away at least SEVEN of them over the past ten years....leaving me with NONE :) ..........i can't believe it; i go on to pick one up, and; 13 used & new available from $73.78 ; i thought i was hallucinating. seventy some bucks, for my olde book. no ways. so, if ya got one out there, hang on to it; or send it to me. and, if kardong or higdon are reading this, Please, print another edition quick...this is ridiculous. you know, i don't care about getting an original back...but no joke; it was AWESOME inspiration, and reading. hope all da' slugs are enjoying their days. from the deep south, ole flatfoot.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Great One ... checks in ...

...yes, the man with a thousand nicknames, the world-famous overhand midnight bowler, the man with the too much scalp, and not enough hair, the man who runs right over large trees in the middle of the night; and the man who single-handedly satisfied "big bertha" deep in the jungles of seashore state park in 1992 (without removing his slug-shirt); and still finished fifty miles under nine hours has spoken. i've offered him free entry into the 2008 fattest butt; and, mr. john clark responds, "harper u shit head! wadda u want now? i'm busy watching girls gone wild infomercials! quit botherin' me." o.k. mr. clark; i'll take that as a maybe...the field for the 18th fattest butt is shaping up nicely.

Huggs for da' Sluggs...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Marathon Kills....Chicago '07

...but so does sitting on your couch and going to work. i am very sorry for the young man, Chad Schieber, the thirty-five year old from michigan who died in the heat of the chicago marathon on sunday. and, i'm especially sorry for his family and friends.

but, i'm also very happy for chad. so many folks don't follow their dreams; and are frozen in time, unable to act on "what may be." not chad. reports said he trained for six months, in order to complete his first marathon. most folks reading this blog can relate. some of us have trained for "decades" but can easily recall the early years, and finishing that first marathon. it was a treat; and it changed our worlds, and the way we think about our lives, and how we relate to those around us. the friendships we've enjoyed go on forever. we share a common bond, and it is good.

that was the dream chad was following; the one calling from deep inside his soul; life is a precious thing, for sure. the older we get, the more clear it becomes just how important moments in time are. this was chad's moment in time. it is a sad time for his family, for sure. but chad's life should be celebrated. chad set the bar high, and went for it. he challenged himself to a physical goal, that most human beings never even consider.

the media has blown this event out of proportion; and some critics will even challenge the sanity of being out there running in the heat. they're all wrong. they don't hear the music that runners hear. they don't feel the power of movement that we know. and, it's o.k. my friends, stay out there; keep moving and keep the faith.

happy days,
flatfoot freddie

Saturday, October 06, 2007

90 Days until TSI's Fattest Butt....

...and the Top-Secret Slug Course is being groomed. everyone knows that january in the middle atlantic is pure h*ll. last year, the temps topped at seventy degrees with sunshine. of course, it's global warming; and the republicans fault (mostly W's). however, this year we're bringing in 17 kilotons of glacial ice from greenland. naturally, it'll be grossly hacked, and chopped into fine pieces; and strewn around the course at opportune points. flatfoot freddie is in close contact with the National Weather Service who assure us there will be dastardly cold and miserable freezing rain / ice on fatt butt day. so don't forget yer parkas. ranger rick ain't real pleased with us right now either. seems someone left their team slug thong, hanging on the handlebars of the park ranger's four wheeler. and, it appeared soiled. this is not good slugs; and what it means is that big bertha; was in the park, against my wishes.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

it's ok, it's all good; we're sendin' pokey in with some peanut brittle to appease the rangers. however, there will absolutely, positively be no bushwhackin' and jumpin' fences this year. team slug is "this" close to getting kicked out of the first state...and we just need to be able to hold on another year or two. what i am requesting is that y'all don't run so danged fast; i really enjoyed being out in the forest in the pitch blackness last year. the delaware devil-beasts are out on full moon nights; and while i heard him last year; this year i'm hoping to pop him with a pea shooter...and i don't like to be out their alone; in case i miss. it wouldn't be pretty. the ole DDB has sharp teeth, and bad breath.

hope all are enjoyin' some fine fall training; happy days, the big brown pony...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Why Team Slug is still here???

...and I've been thinking a lot about this lately; particularly when puttin' away brewskies with budds following a long run. Why is TSI still here; and what has held us together all of these years? Then I get to thinking about the current state of ultrarunning; and how it's grown. Kind of like NASCAR; destined to become larger and more popular; and destined to change. Race applications on-line and selling out in a few days, or less. Many hundreds showing up at races; the majority of which we've never met before. And, events / personalities that have outgrown the common "back of the packer."

I'm not sure it's "good or bad" it just is. For better or worse, and as the tide of time passes; the olde days are gone. For many runners; ultrarunning has become a business. And for better or worse; the olde folks are stuck with it. Listen... ain't complainin'...change is inevitable. So what do we do? We can change with it...or Team Slug can hang on. Hang on with all those small clubs / groups of friends who continue to stage low-key events. So we roll on. Start twelve here; and sixteen there. Skim a little pond water, and have a little fun. The olde days were that good. They really were, and they weren't that long ago. At Team Slug, the olde days were this past Saturday; and they were good.

I have to tell the small gang; whose line of time, often intersects mine; that I love every one of you. All the folks, who've crossed over to the dark "black t-shirt" side; and ran / participated in one of our "most pitiful of all non-events." Y'all are the real ultrarunners. The ones with the direct philosophical links, back to those who came before. And we will carry on. Rumours of the "Death of Team Slug" are greatly exaggerated. After the Hitman and Flatfoot Freddie; Chief Slug and the All-Nighter, the Troll...and hundreds of other Slugs are gone; our spirit will carry on. And someone will pickup the torch. We carried on for the Flatlanders....and someone, somewhere will carry on for us. God Bless every single one of you tonight and always. Life is Good!!!

happy days, the hitman...

"I trained earnestly for that hardest of all contests, the ultra distance walking races. I was no champion, but what I gained was better than any rewards like cups or medals. I gained health and strength, incidentally and best of all, I gained friends, sound friends, whose company has made life the pleasurable thing it has mostly been."

Australian walker Robert Henderson Crall (1869 to 1947)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

TSI announces 2008 Fattest Butt..

The 2008 Fattest Butt will be held at the Central Delaware Slug course on Saturday, January 5, 2008. All Slugs and Potential Slugs are invited to attend. Fat Ass Format, No Aid, Fees; etc. Swamp water and Stale Bread will be provided. Long range forecast predicts extreme levels of snow and freezing rain. Snow shoes, ropes, and crampons will be permitted due to technicality of course. As always, TSI highly advises you not to attend , and, as always; some poor souls will! And, I love them.
First Accepted Entrant to TSI's next non-event is:

Mr. Louis D'Onofrio of New Jersey... congrats my young friend!

As always sending good wishes to all da' slugs and slug wannabees alike...
happy days,
flatfoot freddie.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Team Slug's 18th Fall Birthday Run...

...this year on Saturday, 9/29, the Russell B.Cheney 50K+ was won by Mark
Crisman of Ft.Meade, MD. He successfully defended his title by completing the
course in 4:16:10. First woman was Alisa Springman of Mercersburg, PA who
finished in 4:53:37. Crazy Horse Award winner was Amanda Bundek of Dover, DE in
6:56:06. Special congratulations to Jim Simpson of Huntington Beach, California
who completed his 496th marathon/ultra. Full results; story and pictures, will
be posted to by Sunday evening.

Tonight Team Slug sends best wishes to all runners competing in the Delaware
100-mile Run, at this hour, near Newark, DE. Our thoughts and prayers are with
you. God Bless America and God Bless all of our troops, wherever they are
serving this evening. The Hitman.

Friday, September 28, 2007

See ya in the da' pond....

NON-EVENT Director Lisa says,

All set Sluggo's...ready to rock and roll;
another good crowd expected; remember, the right folks ALWAYS show up!!!
please be at gate at 745; and be smilin' for Ranger Rick;
this is NOT an EVENT; this is a group of old slug-buds,
goin' for a long trainin' run...JFK is coming!!!

happy days,
pokey :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Slugs / Potential Slugs...the end is near....

and, three outstanding young americans have come to their senses, just in the nick of time, and will not be attending saturday's HUGE non-event. i congratulate them on their wise choice. if you are one of the majority still planning on attending; i have great news. russell b. cheney can not attend this year due to commitments involving the foreign legion, some unusual tropical plants, and the daughter of an undisclosed u.s. know what they say; what happens in tijuana, stays in tijuana...but, hey; russell didn't leave us high and dry. he's sending mister jim simpson all the way from california to evaluate our entire operation. pending his approval; team slug will co-op a newly formed, top-secret group currently being recruited by russell himself. (it'll be similar to the Slugs From Hell ); and require superslugdom credentials to be offered admittance. so, let's be on our best behavior. no coconut covered marshmallows, no roasting the delaware flyin' squirrels in front of little children, and i've already notified the governor to not let Big Bertha into the state the entire weekend. it's a small state; we can do it. so friends, i'm excited. pokey slug was out at dawn skimming pond water; and i stopped by the bread outlet to get the several-day old crusty stuff. it's gonna be a jim dandy day. remember, its NOT a race; it's a group of friends meeting to get in a long run. JFK is comin'. y'all be good; and see ya's saturday at da' pond. flatfoot freddie.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

dang, the weather is SWEET in delaware today...

friends, only TWO weeks until rbc...and we have 17 entries! while it is understandable that a Rookie Slug would want to come and get the "World-Famous" black 100% cotton slug shirt; i really can't think of a good reason for anyone returning. however, i'm always glad to see ya's. finalizing plans as of today, the course has been marked every three meters with color-coded ribbons imported from Shanghai. they have those sparkly little gold filaments in them. the course was also completely repaved, and the hills have been moderated to not rise more than a 3% grade at any one spot. splinter-free, hand-carved, mahogany hand rails are now in place; and we stuck a WiFi hotspot out near the campground; for those slugs carryin' laptops. pond water is available during the entire loop (bear off to the left approximately 20 yards); not one slug has every died of thirst at this non-event. pokey slug is reporting the delaware diving squirrels seem to be thriving this autumn, so that may be a concern. please bring rodent whistles if ya have them. if not they'll be available at the starting line for a nominal fee. which reminds me; this run is free (it is NOT an event / it's a handful of friends getting in a long run). first time slug finishers may purchase a slug shirt after finishing for ten u.s. dollars; and veteran slugs may purchase a "trinket" for ten u.s. dollars --- they don't need to finish. they're already slugs. you also will be paying a park entrance fee; 3 to 5 bucks i think. please try to be at the killen's pond gate by 745, and til we get settled in the parking lot; we probably won't start until 830. if you have any questions / concerns please contact me at (302)678-3325.

looking forward to seein' all, happy days, john.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Friday, September 14, 2007

Army Slug coming home for RBC !!!


Count me in! Was able to slip out of Iraq a little
ahead of schedule and will definitely be at RBC.
Celebrated my safe arrival home by running Stumpy's
last weekend running and enjoying every last mile of
it. See you in a couple weeks,



and from pokey


Hi John!!!

I took yesterday off from work and got out for a nice 2 hour run at the pond. Rest assured that the man-eating deer are still out and one got a snuffle of this old slug, so all slugs beware, they are waiting for us! The Blind Squirrels were out and about, dropping things from the trees onto the trails. There were lots of turtles out sunning themselves, which serves as a distraction from the ankle grabbing roots. I think the course is almost ready for those brave souls who have entered. The pond water is also almost the correct shade of green for tasting, hopefully it will be there by the 29th.
Hope all is well with you. I am looking forward to catching up with everyone. I got my entry in for Umstead next year for the 50 miler, while Down and Durty Slug Derrick is going to attempt the 100 miler. I am bringing famed RBC RD Lisa as crew for the event. She is looking forward to RDing at RBC and has big plans for outsmarting Ranger Rick.
Have a great weekend... I'll be out at the pond tomorrow morning if you're up for it 302-359-XXXX!



Welcome also to Alisa Springman of Mercersburg, PA !!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

God Bless our Troops...

and God Bless America !!!

Message from Brother Russell B. Cheney


Re the 2007 Team Slug RBC 50K: The following might be used in communications with participants / potential participants, but please feel free to use, use part of, or not use any of the following in any way you deem appropriate:

People have asked me of the 230+ marathons / ultras that I’ve done, which is my favorite, or the best, or the toughest, etc. I have never been asked which is the most intimidating. Is that because it is assumed that marathoners have NO FEAR? Speaking for myself, that is certainly not the case.

The Leadville Marathon, with its advertised start at 10,000 feet, 13,000+ foot maximum altitude (at Mosquito Pass, including possible snow scrambling), 12,000’ of elevation gain and 12,000’ of elevation loss, got my attention. There were rumors of running surfaces like rocky riverbeds and like 8” ball-bearings on a 30-degree down-slope: neither rumor individually was true; both taken together were.

Or how about my first marathon? I knew no marathoners at the time. In reading the official runner instructions for the 1990 Los Angeles Marathon it stated in no equivocating terms a number of infractions the runner could commit that would summarily result in the runner’s immediate and public expulsion from the marathon by event officials (this was a televised extravaganza so one’s family could be presumed to be watching), including (but not limited to) lining up outside the runner’s designated starting corral, use of a long list of steroids and other drugs that I had never heard of (testing to be supported by a potentially wide variety of means of extracting bodily fluids for chemical analyses), running other than on the designated specified marathon route, and disregard of any official’s instructions during the event. Almost needles to say, I lined up and stayed in my “designated corral” until I was entirely certain the starting gun had been fired. As it turned out, not only was I the only participant in my “designated corral”, but none of the other 20,000+ participants were even visible – because of a curve five blocks ahead in the road – and no “enforcing” event official was visible. I waited in totally weirdly empty streets.

How about Boston? The country’s oldest marathon, and perhaps the most prestigious. Seemingly all the world’s greatest and fastest runners for the last 100 years had participated. Internationally televised. Noon start. Bussing to the start. Corrals again. Only certified qualifiers permitted entry. Would I be trampled? Would I understand anything said by all the Bostonians speaking like President Kennedy? Rumors of the aggressive pressing crowds screaming and taking over the porta potties.

The race directors of some ultras seem to think the more maniacally intense the race description the more appealing the event for potential participants. The Big Bend National Park 50K in Texas seems to delight in its location which boasts of more species of cacti than any other in the Union (the Horse Crippler, for example, purportedly is capable of putting a 6” needle-sharp spike clean through a horse’s foot or a running shoe), plus scorpions, Gila Monsters, vultures, virtually all desert plants in the area covered with remarkably effective thorns (example: the Cat Claw Bush), unbelievably low humidity, and guaranteed jagged four-wheel-drive roads. Add to that, rumors of banditos, smugglers, illegals, and desperadoes crossing the border for your water, Gatorade and wallet.

One of my favorites: Crown King Scramble 50K: Arizona boasts the most species of rattlesnakes of any state in the US. “No humidity problem” = no humidity. 6,000’ rise start to finish on the topo rumored to be 12,000’ cumulative, accounting for all the intervening assents and descents. Snow, ghastly “sticky” mud, clear skies same-day temperature from start at 35 to finish at 90 degrees: take your pick. Share the four-wheel-drive trail with a rumored fabulous showcase of dust-producing raucous off-road vehicles: Jeeps, SUV’s, ATVs, dirt bikes, motorcycles, and indescribably creative modifieds.

Don’t forget DC’s Heritage Trail 50K: Guaranteed scuttling through drainage pipes, clambering over barrier fencing, dodging frenzied Washington traffic, creative course marking (or not), trail mazes, scrambling in river beds, tracking through playground sand (complete with children), and exploring potential alternative routes. Rumors of prior-year native-DC participants being lost no more than 40 minutes, secret routes to stay on course known by few, course-map in Chinese, course briefing in Greek.

But one of my all-time favorites: the Race Director personally contacts each potential participant and conscientiously attempts to DIScourage their participation, including graphic descriptions of the deep wood’s voracious ankle-wrapping roots and the moving trail-rocks, terrible grades, horrendous bridge crossings, trail co-use dangers, hazardous lack of close aid-stations, possible perilous overcrowding, slippery leaves and pine needles. Rumors persist of strange creatures inhabiting both the pond itself and the surrounding forest (the trail never being more than a few yards from the water and virtually always within the woods, leaving the desperately-fatigued and confused runner appallingly vulnerable), of participants disappearing and later reappearing in ethereal form, of strange vapors rising from the pond at all hours, and deep snow banks.

So I conclude that by far one of the most intimidating endurance runs that I have yet so far attempted has been the last described: the awesome Delaware Team Slug 50K, the magnificent creation of John Harper himself.

I was audacious enough to participate at the last two presentations, and I am so sorry to be unable to participate this year!

Russell B. Cheney

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

entries pouring in '08???

13. Sam Adams (friend of King Slug...apparently from Ohio)
14. Francis Cannon , The First State.
15. Mark Johnson, PA
16. Tom Curtis, PA
17. Alisa Springman, PA
18. Mark Crisman, Iraq
19. Ravi Gooneratne, NJ
20. Peter McLaughlin, DE
21. Joan Messick, USA
22. Brigitte Sheehan, Trail Dawgs

hope all are having a terrific year;
happy days, flatfoot freddie.

Monday, September 03, 2007

2007 RBC50K Information Sheet

All Friends; Slugs and Potential Slugs

Thank you for your interest in TSI's 2007 RBC50K non-event on Saturday, September 29th . This is the 18th consecutive year Team Slug has held a fall ultra. I'm looking forward to seeing a couple of old friends and welcoming a few others into the Slug Kingdom for eternity. As with all Slug events this is a "50 Kilometer Non-Event." That means we won't be qualifying for Boston, and also means do NOT contact Ranger Rick asking for information. I assure you if we have to bushwhack, and climb over electric fences again this year; we'll never finish by dark. I will time the event and count laps with my moon-dial.

This is a ten loop run, 3.1 miles around a pond on a single-track path(same course as Fattest Butt), and certainly would be considered Ultra Entry-Level. The course is flat, though there are some roots to trip over, and with any dumb-luck at all we'll have torrential rain, or some trail flooding. I will supply minimal aid (stale bread and pond water) If you have some particular food/drink stuff you must have to finish, please bring it. If you have spouses or friends available to come along and help at start/finish area it is greatly appreciated. Most of my buds/fellow Delaware Slugs are in Iraq on an extended vacation. All finisher's will receive The Official Team Slug T-Shirt, unless you already have one; then you will receive a TSI trinket.

There are no particular rules. My main request is that if you come to run please plan on finishing. I don't care how long it takes. If it does get dark, we'll abscound from the parking lot, find an alternate entrance, and, i'll bundle up, and go back out with you. We're in no hurry. Second, please don't break 4 hrs. If necessary we can add a lap for folks that are too fast. Please come to have a nice, long run...make a new friend or two.

Finally, we will meet at approximately 0830 hours in the morning, and the non-event will start shortly thereafer, in the Killens Pond Main Parking area. Basically from the North it's Rt 1 South to Dover, and follow directions on map. From the South it's Rt 113 North to Dover, and from the West it's across Bay Bridge, and then right through the Cornfields of Delaware. Can't get here from the East without a Fishing Vessel. A very big one. Any questions please call; my home phone is (302)678-3325 and cell is (302)399-6409.

A Ten US Dollar Cash Donation (to pay for shirt) will be accepted the morning of the non-event. As always, TSI offers a full money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the run. Finally; this run will happen if i'm breathing. No cancellations for weather, etc. I'll see y'all on Saturday morning, September 29th.

Happy Trails

Amanda "Pokey-Slug" Bundek

Non-Event Director

CONFIRMED VICTIMS registered for the 2007 RBC50k

(If you're name is missing; and a FEW PROBABLY ARE; and tsi / big bertha promised you a slot, please contact tsi immediately at; Sometimes big bertha gets to thinkin' about ole john clark, and screws up!)

1. James Moore, MD
2. Rebecca Moore, MD
3. Amanda Bundek, DE
4. Derek Hills, MD
5. Will Kerchner, NY
6. James Simpson, CA
7. Rick Beyer, VA
8. Tony Creszenzo, PA
9. Louis D'Onofrio, NJ
10. A.J. Johnson, NJ
11. Rob Powell, OH
12. Mark Johnson, PA

Saturday, August 18, 2007

From James and Rebecca.

Received this nice note from James / Rebecca today. As always they bring a smile to my lips, and joy to my heart. James story is now posted at his site listed below. James is right, the RBC is creeping up on us. Hope all are running well.


We've been really enjoying your write up on the Team Slug site. So many kind words from the heart. Let's just enjoy life, what ever it brings. Looking forward to RBC.
There is a Badwater repot I posted, that I would like to share with the Slugs. It's on the VHTRC site and also on my site at
Looking forward to seeing everyone at the RBC. How many thousand entries have you had to turn down? Might be time for the "Lottery"..

Sluggett said Hello.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

ole sluggo say, "DNF much better than DNS...."

I've got a few old buddies that have had some dnf's this summer; and i've been thinking about the "real good" possibility that i'll experience that feeling again...and hopefully soon. i remember the old days not worrying about a fifty miler. we were doing thirty every weekend, and lining up for a fifty we were running for time. i always wanted to break nine, but i never did. (closest for this 'ole sluggo was 9:04). anywho, the early years flew by, and i was getting a bit "big-headed" fer my running shorts. i always wondered why runners "quit". in my mind i often thought, "not me, i'd never quit; i'd run through hell with a broken leg if i had to, but i was coming to the finish line." and then i lost my mind; that's right, somehow i imagined i could finish barkley. just don't know what got into me, but, i sent in the app. and gary let me run. no need to go into details, but i assure you it wasn't pretty. best part was gary didn't acknowledge lap "ONE" dropouts in the results. at least that was a blessing. so i had my first DNF at barkley. no shame in that, and others followed. NOW, i'd love to have a DNF at a fifty miler. haile, just standing on that start line would fluff my feathers. i miss the guys, and gals; i really do. so you folks out there dnf'ing are my heroes. always. never quit...TRYING....with a little luck, and if the water don't rise; soon, i'll be back out there with ya. til then, happy days, da' hitman.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Stuttering Cat (NUC)

Y'know i never ever forward jokes, but it's been a hard month and for some reason this one made me smile. I borrowed it from myspace. Hope all are running well; and having a great weekend.
P.S. I like cats/animals! no mean mail please :)

> A teacher is explaining biology to her 4th grade
> students. "Human beings are the only animals that
> stutter".
> A little girl raises her hand. "I had a kitty-cat
> who stuttered", she volunteered.
> The teacher, knowing how precious some of these
> stories could become, asked the girl to describe the
> incident.
> "Well", she began, "I was in the back yard with my
> kitty, and the Rottweiler that lives next door got a
> running start and before we knew it he jumped over
> the fence into our yard!"
> "That must've been scary", said the teacher. "It
> sure was", said the little girl.
> "My kitty raised his back and went 'Fffff,Fffff,
> Fffff'...
> And before he could say F@#k, the Rottweiler ate
> him!"

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Need some motivation sluggos....check this out....

....order information follows below.

"The band of 55, shambling along in a procession of Gothic horror, closed their ranks and refused to yield. They now resembled the crew of a shipwreck, rather than trained athletes. Every foot and leg injury, short of fracture, was eased gently Eastward. shins swollen grotesquely, soles blistered like paint exposed to heat, strained tendons and pulled muscles, festering dog bites. The men's skins had now been tanned so dark that Payne, or for that matter Gardner and Cotton, were no longer readily identifiable. A threadbare track suit was aristocratic garb. Many had their clothes hanging in rags. Bandages that would have brought shudders of distress in Crimea were wrapped around the wounds. Rivers, who took a shoe size of 6 1/2 could only continue in size 11. For 45 of these gallant men there was no incentive beyond pride left. Even the eleventh-place man, Harry Abramowitz, was well aware that he was incapable of making up twelve hours on the man in the last position for prize money, John Cronick."

No this ain't Claude's Big Butt, Team Slug's Fattest Butt, or any current event. But, this was a real, genuine footrace. If interested book ordering information is below. It's a doozy. happy days, john

TSI Recommends... C.C.Pyle's Amazing Foot Race

In the Roaring Twenties, endurance fads were all the rage. From dance marathons and flagpole sitting to kissing and kite-flying competitions, it seemed there was nothing that someone wouldn’t attempt. Some wanted fame, fortune or fun, but for those not dressed in tuxedoes or feather boas, living the good life that the Jazz Age afforded, an endurance competition meant a chance to change one’s luck.

And then there were those who made their own luck, like C.C. Pyle, a regular P.T. Barnum in the 1920s, a notorious sports agent who almost single-handedly took football from the amateur hour to the professional leagues. Best known as the promoter of football legend Red Grange, Pyle will soon be a main supporting character (played by Jonathan Pryce) in George Clooney’s film Leatherheads, due in theaters this December.

But even more than his contributions to professional sports, Pyle’s greatest—or most notorious—offering to sports history began April 26, 1927, when he stood before a room full of sportswriters and proposed a foot race across the United States—from Los Angeles to New York. Runners would travel 30 to 50 miles a day, sleeping in towns along the way. The runner with the lowest total time would win $25,000 in prize money, a jaw-dropping dollar figure at the time.

In C.C. PYLE’S AMAZING FOOT RACE (Rodale / July 2007 / Hardcover / $25.95), Geoff Williams tells the tale of what would officially be known as C.C. Pyle’s First Annual International Transcontinental Foot Race, From Los Angeles to New York. In an age of partially paved roads, shoddy shoes, and dubious foot care, sportswriters mockingly dubbed Pyle’s grand scheme the “Bunion Derby.” But it seemed less ludicrous to the 199 runners from all over the world, many of them hapless underdogs, who took their mark on March 4, 1928, for the chance to change their luck…their fortunes…their lives.

The race was grueling in predictable and unpredictable ways, as runners endured harsh weather, crippling ailments, death threats, and startled motorists—but an astonishing 55 participants managed to stagger to the Madison Square Garden finish line 84 days later. This from a field of starters that boasted very few professional runners, and included a postal worker, a cowboy, a streetcar operator, and even a baker. The diverse competitors vying for the prize money included:

· Andy Payne, a 20-year old Oklahoman and part Cherokee who wanted to win over the girl of his dreams and pay off the mortgage on his family’s farm

· Paul “Hardrock” Simpson, a college student from North Carolina who had already survived being hit by a car, enlisting in the army at age 15, and a 500 mile race against a pony

· Mike Kelly, formerly known as Dean Pletcher, a luckless boxer from Indiana, who changed his name before beginning the race that he hoped would change his life

· Ed Gardner, one of four black runners whose encounters with bigotry along the race route made reaching New York a deeply personal quest.

· Arthur Newton, a record-breaking runner who, according to Pyle’s race program, “was passed up for the last two Olympic Games because the 26-mile marathon was too short for him”

· Charles Hart, a 63-year-old Englishman, whose world-record for fastest time over 100 miles had just been broken by rival runner Newton

· Morris Saperstein, the last surviving participant in the Bunion Derby, passing away in February 2005, who for unknown reasons went to his grave without ever mentioning a word to his family about the monumental race

Drawing from the firsthand accounts of those who were there, never-before-published material, and interviews with many living descendents, Williams reveals a cast of characters colorful enough to rival any of today’s reality television contestants. By the end of C.C. PYLE’S AMAZING FOOT RACE, readers, like the runners who crossed the finish line, will be tempted to believe C.C. Pyle’s boast: “I’m the gent that makes dreams come true.”

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist, whose articles have appeared in publications as diverse as Entertainment Weekly and LIFE. He frequently contributes to Entrepreneur and pens a monthly humor column for the parenting magazine, Babytalk. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Loveland, Ohio.

If you would like to receive a review copy for your newsletter, I would be happy to send one to you.

Beth Tarson
Senior Publicist | Rodale Trade Books
733 Third Avenue New York, NY 10017-3204
(P) 212-808-1684 (F) 212-573-9940

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pres. Bush interrupts TSI training!

Catoctin in the Summer-time!!! Bears, NO; drought, NO; Pres. Bush, YES! With the President headed into Camp David, i was forced to adjust my weekend long hike / run. And, it's all good. Many summers i've been blitzed by the prez's helicopter, Marine Corps One; as the big ole chopper hauled U.S. Citizen Number One; da' president himself into Camp David. I have no reason to believe da' prez is doing it on purpose; but there's no doubt he know's about Team Slug. Particularly after the Houston Marathon in 2006. His old man wanted that shirt bad. Any-who, Cal Ripken is in the Hall of Fame; and I got my long weekend run in; it's ALL GOOD! Slugs; i hope all is swell in your world today. Peace on Earth! flatfoot freddie

Thursday, July 26, 2007

on the comeback trail....again :)

"There will be days you don't think you can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime of knowing you have."

i know it's pitiful, but I'm still only walking an hour a day. my goal is to try slogging again come one august. that's next wednesday if your keeping score, and then be ready to deathmarch baltimore by the end of october...sounds reasonable...i spend most of that time in the woods; tomorrow morning will be back at catoctin and take me two or three precious hours; of which i will love every minute. i tell you this because i don't want you to take your daily runs for granted. they are a gift, gliding and breezing through time and space, and for each step you take you should remember just how lucky you are. an injury can quickly set you down; and pull in those reins. so have fun out there; think of me; and hopefully i'll be seeing ya real soon. john.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

From James' website... A GREAT EFFORT...

....CONGRATS JAMES; for giving it your best shot. I remember standing on the starting line at the 100-mile run at 4 A.M. some years back. It was a surreal feeling; the night was at its darkest -- with ominous animal noises threatening our senses --- in the deepest hills of central vermont. Morning dew was trying to find it's way onto leaves, and drizzle was scattering the dust all around us. Glancing around the ultarunner's had a certain look on their faces. A certain glaze in their eyes. These runners were not attempting this feat on a whim, and weren't doing it for trophies, or fame. These folks had an insatiable force inside them, driving them to the limits of their imagination. After finishing the marathon, something inside these folks turned on, and wondered just how far they could go. This force had to know what secrets, what emotional thoughts and feelings may await in their souls. And on this night, they would begin the search for that feeling. Standing on the line of the 100-mile run, was standing among human greatness; sharing fresh air with men and women who knew what they wanted, and were willing to sacrifice for their dream. That night some made it, and some didn't. However, all who stood on that line, were already heroes. Facing the monster that is an all day and all night run, and not giving in. Running, Walking, Crawling; until they can no longer move, and no longer can remember why they came. But the day comes when you remember; and that is a glorious moment in time. Realizing a dream is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. A personal treasure that no one, or time, can ever take away. I was blessed to receive this gift, and it changed my life. There are many folks who were responsible for me getting there and finishing; but i can thank no one any more than i would have to thank James and Rebecca. They're not only running heroes of mine; but rather life heroes; and i am proud and thankful to call them friends. Tonight I say a prayer for all my friends; and hope that each of you come to meet / know / and love the Moore's as my family does. God Bless Each of you, john.

News From California:

"Not Crying in my Beer" James called from Lone Pine. He was upbeat. He didn't feel that there was anything wrong with his training. It was just not his day. He wanted to be sure that all knew that he was fine.

The team will go back to Las Vegas and then fly home tomorrow (Thursday).

The future for James? Right now, it's just regular runs like 50 kms and JFK.

DNF: John Dodds called at about midnight (our time). It wasn't to be. James was not moving fast enough and just was not going to finish within the 60 hour time limit. So James ended his quest at Panamint Springs and drove to Lone Pine.

Badwater is not just hard. It is a very different challenge from other runs. It requires knowledge and experience of its unique environment. It sounds like Jim did not have his eating, drinking, and pace down for this run.

James has done incredible runs. He has not always been successful. When he did the C&O Canal Towpath both ways, he had to cut out one section. James's strength is that he has the courage to set high goals and risk not attaining them. He can do this because he has a positive attitude. That attitude gets him through the runs, the success, and the lack of success.

So Jim is fine. He has had a beer and is smiling. He gave it his shot.

I bet he is thinking about next year already. Just don't tell Rebecca!

BTW: Jim gave us vicarious entertainment. He didn't blood dope, take money to not call fouls, or host a dog fight. It might be a good time to show him that you respect what he is. It's not too late to make a contribution.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Praying for James

What an incredible journey James is on. Always looking forward, always looking up, and always smiling. Wandering around, race to race, sharing joy and love; and extending a hand of friendship. James is one of the good guys, and it is a blessing to share time and space with him on our wonderful planet. James' life and his actions are fine examples for each of us; challenging and inspiring; forcing us to examine just what we're capable of. Tonight I'm praying for him, Rebecca, family, and his crew; whereever they are. I hope you'll all find it in your hearts to do the same. God Bless each of you.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Badwater Update --- James at Furnace Creek!!!

Hope all are following Brother James, and saying "little prayers / sending positive vibes" for him. Badwater Ultramarathon started this morning at 8:00 A.M. and James reached the first stop, Furnace Creek, at 11:51 A.M. Elapsed time is 3:51, and he's averaging 4.5 mph. For the record the current airtemp at Furnace Creek is 111.1 degrees farenheit. I checked it on WeatherBug. Enjoy your cool homes this evening :)
Go James!!!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thinkin' of Badwater...

...and brother slug james moore. you can follow his site off the tsi front page, or the badwater site at james has a long list of incredible running achievements over the past couple of decades; and i was blessed to know him much of that time. i met james and his lovely wife rebecca about fifteen years ago. he called me the summer of 1992 and requested information on an upcoming slug run in hampton, virginia in september. i assured him that this could barely be considered a race, gave him the old "ya really don't wanna come here" spiel, but if ya really ain't got nothin' better to do, you are welcome to join us. that fall we ran the september 50k on a middle school cinder track in newport news. james and rebecca arrived early that morning pulling up just in time to observe our slug skeleton crew scuttle around in the heavy rain. we started six runners that morning, and believe james finished second behind bruce "the running man" chituck himself. while that day was the beginning of a long friendship between james / rebecca and da'slugs, there are other fond memories from that overgrown and forgotten cinder track. that day rebecca gained the title "sluggette" and has worn it proudly ever since. for her efforts she was rewarded with a bottle of crazy horse ale (voted "worst beer in america in 1991" --- i ain't making that up --- just ask james). that day also saw one of the great ultra performances of ALL TIME, as john "mr. clean" sorenson, of des moines, iowa finished the 50k following "hitman training - that included lots of beer, and long runs of no more than three miles - all summer long." mr. clean finished the run, lay down on the cinders, and swore never to talk to me again. of course, he lied :) he just didn't know it at the time. fifteen years have passed; and james / rebecca have stuck with da' slugs, for better or worse. tomorrow morning james will wake up with miles to go, across the hot desert. so tonight, james and rebecca are in my prayers. if ya think of it, and yer so inclined; say a little prayer for them too. they'se good folks. happy days, john.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Congrats Pokey-Slug, and all Big Butt Finishers, including Angela Ivory :)

...who took first place in her age group at the Greater Wyoming Buffalo Stampede 10K today in Delaware. She received a very nice Buffalo Trophy for her efforts and in her note referred to it as "pokey slug luck." I think it was the God's smiling down and rewarding her genuine kindness for all around her. Hopefully that energy will carry us both into the fall, and get us a Slug-finish at Baltimore. Good luck at the North Face 50K ms. pokey. I'll be looking for a report :)
P.S. Also congrats to all Big Butt Finishers, the RFH and Claude for yet another outstanding event in Lancaster, SC today. Claude reports, "The race started with the firing of an 1860 Colt 44 Caliber. Tim
Carter of SC led from the start and actually had negative splits the
second half. Ray Krolewicz used the run for a warm-up for the World
Championship 24 hour run next week in Canada. Lisa Arnold of NC also
led from the start and took the female honors. In addition of
getting a shirt they can not wear in public the winners got a wood
plate with the BIG BUTT logo that can't be used to eat out of." Also, big congrats to ms. angela ivory of nashville; representing the slugs well with a sweet 6:14:01.

The Outlaw's Prayer

I heard this song on the radio early on the way home today. I remember it from year's gone by. It was recorded in 1979 by Johnny Paycheck, and written by Billy Sherrill and Glen Sutton. It got me to thinking about the way we treat each other, and all the little chances we have to serve others; yet still pass up. Maybe we don't follow our hearts because we're tired, or lazy, or frightened, or shy. But try to remember that every chance you have to share a smile, or a kind word; you should do it. These positive interactions matter. The past two weeks have been very difficult for me and my family. Whether i've been at WalMart getting groceries, or stopping for gas; somehow i seem to notice those around me more; and appreciate the smiles and kindness they share with me. I hope you're able to share kindness today. I wish each of you peace, love, and eternal joy. Friends always, john.

"You know, I worked the Big Packet show in Fort Worth, Saturday night,
We had all day Sunday to rest and relax, before I caught another flight.
So I decided to walk down town an' get myself a little fresh air.
Before long, I found myself in front of a big church on the corner of the square.

Boy, I could hear that singin' way out in the street, sure was a beautiful sound.
So I just walked up the steps an' opened the door an' started to go inside an' sit down.
But before I could, a young man walked over to me an said: "Excuse me, Sir,
"But I can't let you in with that big black hat, those jeans, that beard an' long hair.

So I just left, went back outside, sat down on that kerbing, an I thought to myself:
That's the house of the Lord. That guy's got the hell of a nerve.
Tellin' me I can't worship anywhere I please.
So right there, in front of that Church, I just knelt down on my knees.

I said: "Lord, I know I don't look like much, but I didn't think you'd mind.
"I just wanted to be with your people, Lord: it's been a long time.
"A while ago, a saw a wino over there in the alley, all bent over in tears,
"An' I thought how one stained glass window, from this Church, would feed his family for years."

"Then there's those fine cars parked outside: too many for me to count.
"Made me think how people walked for days to hear your sermon on the mount.
"Then there's those fine ladies in the choir, Lord, singin' like they really love it.
"Hell, last night, they were dancin' on the front row of my show: drinkin' beer, screamin: 'Sing Shove It.'

"You know, even John the Baptist wouldn't be welcome in this place,
"With his coat made of Camel hair an' sandals on his feet an' a long beard on his face.
"You know, Lord, when you come back to get your children, an' take 'em beyond the clouds,
"To live forever in Heaven with you: well, I'd sure hate to be in this crowd.

"You know, Lord, I'm not perfect; some even call me no count.
"But I'll tell you: I believe a man is judged by what's in his heart, not what's in his bank account.
"So if this is what religion is: a big car, a suit an' a tie,
"Then I might as well forget it Lord, 'cause I can't qualify.

"Oh, by the way, Lord, right before they kicked me out, didn't I see a picture of you?
"With sandals an' a beard. Believe you had long hair too."
"Well, this is Paycheck, signing off.
"I'll be seein' you Lord, I hope."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Black Squirrels, Sore Butt Cheeks, and Ginger Brandy

Waves of emotion continue to roll up onto the shores of my soul; and I joyfully accept each one. Today I am thankful for all feelings, for every moment, and each precious breath of life. Being out alone in the woods brings back childhood. I grew up out here, chasing through the brush with a shotgun and a smile. I don't shoot animals anymore, though I still love venison, and wild game. Now, I find joy in sharing and observing life. Especially the simplicity of feeling a fresh breeze on my face, and being able to move about of my own free will. Another 25 miles on the C & O Canal today; with a perfect blue sky just above me, and just above the strained Potomac River. I reached up to touch the pure beauty, but it moved quickly away from me. If there is one law all long-distance runners observe, and agree upon, it is that "nature is in charge." We humans are simply insignificant in the grand scheme of mother earth and the universe. And, out alone in the woods, hungry and thirsty for hours / days at a time; we can feel it. We know this law to be true and we happily accept it. What choice do we have? It is dry in the hills of Western Maryland. Still, down at the canal, near the river basin; plants and animals thrive. Dozens of turkey hens and their chicks, many dozens of deer with their summer spotted fawns grazing on leaves and seeds, and one very black squirrel. I hadn't seen one for many years, and consider this a positive omen. Life is changing, my well-being is slowly healing, and I will recover, and be strong and happy again. The black squirrel sat steadily on the fence rail, chattering and grinning at me. I pulled the bike over and enjoyed a moment with him. I told him my butt was very sore from the long bike rides; and he laughed out loud. We humans are easy transcendental prey for wildlife. Animals know things we've never thought of. It is true, I swear. A couple of short hours later I was back to the parking lot and my truck, in a small town surrounded by friends. These people know me, know my name; and have known me since I played Little League baseball here in the 1960's. These folks love me; but they are innocently clueless about how I feel inside. An old friend waved from a picnic table, and I tried to tell her about the black squirrel; but she just couldn't take me very seriously. She's known me way too long. No matter, there's no way for her to understand how I feel about being out alone, and moving, in the woods. But runners know. Runners know exactly what I'm feeling. Dang, I am thankful for my friends, and I am thankful for all the blessings in my life. Life is good, one day at a time. Oh, and I found a terrific remedy for sore butt syndrome. Two quick shots of ginger brandy! Hey, I appreciate every single one of you all. Happy days, john.
P.S. Pokey if yer reading this shoot me a note. I'm seriously thinking of slugging into Baltimore undercover with a sweet new alias for the marathon. Yer gonna love this one :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

living life every day...

i've now woke up in my childhood bed for the past week; and i'm enjoying it very much. walking with my mom in the early morning; and then bike riding on the Western Maryland Rail Trail (today 25 miles). it's beautiful out here, and with dozens of "friends i haven't met yet" also out riding; makes for refreshing and lively mornings. Heading west, the path rises a hundred feet above the Potomac on the left, always hugging falling rocks on the right. Most of the ride is in the shade, and while i'm in the worse shape of my life; pedaling hard feels good, real good. I'm hoping to be ready to begin jogging by August. That should get me ready for Baltimore in October. I do miss dad very much; but it's hard for me to stay depressed over his passing. He lived his life every day; and i'm not going to let him down. I'm going to do the same thing. I've gotten a boost from hearing from so many olde friends; and the energy and positive vibes sent to me are real --- i have felt them --- and they have me motivated to keep moving forward. So thanks to each of you, and especially my olde New Orleans marathoning buddy. It was Wonderful to hear from you. Each of you are in my thoughts and prayers, happy days, john.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Thanks for the Love and Kindness.

Friends; I can't express how much I appreciate the notes & phone calls i've gotten over the past week. It's always been an open secret that Team Slug is not really a running "club" but rather a large circle of friends; that stretches back nearly two decades. And, hearing from you all during this difficult time has reminded me how important those friendships are. Dad was first diagnosed with lung cancer eleven years ago. He endured numerous chemo treatments, and three major surgeries; battling, and smiling, the entire way. And, thank God, he was generally "healthy" throughout the period. He never lost the will to live, and remained positive until his final peaceful breaths this past Tuesday at home in Warfordsburg. He often spoke during the past year how good his life had been, and how thankful he was for his family and friends. And, our family home has been overrun with those family and friends this week. What stories they tell, and what a joy it is to hear them. Dad decided years ago he wasn't interested in a funeral, and the traditional burial works. He always believed if people wanted to see him; they should call or visit while he was alive, and they did. Plus, he wanted to do something helpful to society with his death, and he did. Dad donated his body to Anatomy Gifts Registry. The site is if interested in exactly what service they provide. It's funny, but what i remember most about dad is he was a good friend. Not just to family and friends, but rather to all; i remember well from childhood, dad stopping on the road to change tires for strangers, taking groceries to some old folks, or financially helping those in need. And, listening to the stories this week; that's what i hear most. Your dad was a good friend. And, I know exactly what they mean; because he was my best friend. Today in Western Maryland is a beautiful day. My mom and I walked on the C & O Canal this morning, enjoying a mother deer and her fawns; a brisk fresh breeze, and dozens of other walkers and bikers out enjoying their lives. Today I pray for each of you that this note finds you healthy and happy. Please enjoy each moment, and love those around you. It may take a bit of time, but I promise to return each note. I appreciate everyone of you. God Bless you and yours. john @

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Father passed.

Friends; Just a quick note to share that my father, Joe Harper, passed away today at about 2 P.M. He was home, surrounded by family, and left very peacefully. He was 75 years young. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers over the past several months. It is deeply appreciated. God Bless each of you, john.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Threads of Time

Our lives are made up of threads of time, colored by individual moments. Recently my thread has been strained, and i suppose it would be easy to look back over the past several years and recognize that cumulative stressors may finally be manifesting themselves in my life. Hard times are not necessarily bad; and there's no doubt that decisions I've made regarding careers; and relationships, have made me exactly who i am today. So many of my running friends have molded me with kindness, learning, and love. And, i've become a better person because of these friendships. While i am not physically in very good running shape, my emotional well-being is stronger than ever. And, it's just in time. For, today my dad is very ill. He is in end-stage cancer; and basic tasks for him are difficult. His movements are measured and slow; only able to move, with hands steadied on a families arm. He doesn't eat, and sleeps most of the time. His eyes are glasslike, meandering around the room in a dreamlike state. He seems to have a limited awareness, with one foot in each world. Each passing day brings him a little closer to death. And he seems at peace. To this point the morphine seems to be effective; and he denies feeling pain. Friends, tonight whereever you are please know that you are each in my thoughts and prayers. The notes and phone calls of condolences, i continue to receive, bring peace to my heart and comfort to my soul. Know for sure that each of you are in my thoughts and prayers daily.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The D.E.R.T. Team of Dover Air Force Base, Delaware

Over four years have passed since the day that changed every life in America. This story is not about that fateful and horrible day. However, that day is the singular reason the D.E.R.T. team exists today. September 11, 2001 saw over 3,000 human beings murdered in terrorist attacks. Incredibly these atrocities occurred on our home soil, and all within a few hours drive of our small military base here in Delaware. Our free country suffered an incredibly destructive blow at the hands of pure evil. There could no longer be any doubt among free and loving people that evil exists. On September 11th that evil stood up and challenged our faith. The days following 9-11 are days filled with pain, suffering, and misery. It hurt every single one of us, scarring our souls, and searing our memories with previously unimaginable thoughts. Indeed, it destroyed the very foundation of our innate belief that we were safe. Suddenly we werent. During this time of trial, many heroes emerged. Those determined to find hope in fellow Americans through a deep and unshaken faith in their Higher Power. God helped the believers to close ranks and muster the strength to never give up. Those days were surreal for all of America, and the reality of despair was no different in our little corner of the world. That morning I remember sitting with Robert Sundquist in our Clinics waiting area watching in disbelief as the second plane hit the tower, and the subsequent disasters at the Pentagon and in Western Pennsylvania. The history of Dover Air Force Base in central Delaware is a long and distinguished one. Though small in size, with a shape mirroring the flight line, the base contains a major airlift hub supporting worldwide excursions in wartime and peace. In addition, the base contains the militarys only Port Mortuary. The mortuary is staffed by a diverse array of professionals from numerous federal agencies, along with active and reserve personnel from all military services. This essay is not an attempt to provide a total view of the installations impeccable mortuary service. Instead I will focus on a very small and distinct group of airmen. A group of ordinary Americans placed in an extraordinary situation and discovering that together, as a team, they could persevere and accomplish great things. This is the story of the D.E.R.T. team of Dover Dental Clinic, and its a story that I know well. While the dental clinic, like the base, has a long history of honorable service to its nation; I will pick up the story on the morning of 9-11 sitting in disbelief and watching history unfold with Dr. Sundquist. Moments after the second plane struck the WTC, and for the first time in my military career, the entire base went to real-world Delta. Gates were closed and base personnel were frozen in place. Doors in the dental clinic were locked as our staff remained in stunned silence. While I had only been at Dover for 10 months, I along with the staff knew exactly what this meant. Even before the Pentagon was hit later in the morning we realized that the mortuary would soon be filled with the tragic aftermath of what was unfolding in front of us on live television. And that meant we needed to prepare. Diane Beecher was currently in command of the clinic, and along with Roberto Lebron and Dan Hines began working the administrative side of preparations. Additional manning needed secured, chains of command needed briefing, and the dental clinic needed to get emotionally and physically prepared. And we had to do it quickly and accurately. On the information systems side our team was working hard on a dream. The subsequent buildup of hardware and technology allowed our clinic to achieve the unthinkable. Indeed, in only days the systems effort led by Hines stood up the capability and further executed the technology becoming the first forensic dental team in history to fully utilize digital radiology in a mass disaster response. On the medical logistics side Ed Anderson was working feverishly to obtain the bulk supplies that would be required for this mission. I was preparing a shift schedule, and helping to prepare the mortuaries dental area for its largest contingency in many years. This entire process was taking place in the old building. It stood in the parking lot of the new facility we enjoy today. And, it was a much more difficult place to work. The heating and cooling units were inadequate. Despite our efforts to maintain a neat and clean environment, the concrete floors, walls, and even equipment were stained with years of use. It stood for over three decades and enjoyed an incredible history of its own, culminating in the events following 9-11. So our team, along with hundreds of other professionals, were off and running. Let me remind you again, because it is important, this story is not meant to be comprehensive. Even on the dental side of the effort there are names and faces long since forgotten. We had help from numerous sources, including Andrews, Langley, and Keesler Air Force bases; along with a group of forensic dentists from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C. The old building quickly came to life. Soon the dining/break area was filled by the USO with a wide assortment of snacks and sundries. McDonalds often provided breakfast biscuits, and coffee was consumed by the gallon. It seemed the entire local community wanted to assist, and we on base genuinely appreciated the care and concern. The building swarmed with the FBI, OSI, and NCIS, along with numerous other universally recognized units such as AFIP, and OAFME, the armed forces medical examiners. Within days, helicopters began to ferry in human remains from the Pentagon. Not only those military and civilian personnel killed while working quietly at their desks, but also those souls aboard American Airlines Flight 77 destined for destruction. Body bags were opened, and now the devastation only days earlier just an eerie nightmare on CNN was among us. The earliest shocking hours are eternally etched in my mind. Faces distraught with grief were all around me, and on a bathroom break looking in the mirror I realized my face was no different. Probably everyone thinks about death at some time in their lives, but being confronted with it on a scale this large hurts one desperately and intimately. These were not just ordinary deaths one accepts with a fully-lived, aged life. Rather this was the death of lives cut short, with dreams terminated instantly, leaving families grappling with pain that can never disappear. The dead lay quietly. Those of us privileged to assist identify them did so diligently and with dignity. Only three days before the dead had been like us. They were living, breathing, warm and fleshy citizens, full of hope and desire wanting only to share life and love with their families and friends. Some were young, some a bit older, but all were now gone. Closing my eyes I still see their faces to this day. The face of death is not easy to forget. One victim was wearing a Timex Ironman sports watch, still ticking, and exactly like the one I had on. They were only 22 seconds apart. It may seem unusual that I would remember that, but frankly there is no way I could ever forget.

Amidst this pain our team worked courageously. Those early days are what defined who we are today. Following three 16-hour days our team was struggling and tired. We were beat up, and worn down, but the people on that team were highly motivated airmen, and refused to give up. To this day, I am positive each member was at Dover because of a higher purpose. I do not believe coincidence exists in this lifetime. This story is not about me, or any single one member of our team, or any single moment of time. This is a story of hope, and singleness of purpose, and deep inside being determined to serve fellow human beings at any cost. And that is what we did. Sunday morning rolled around and we were running two dental radiology rooms. I worked the middle one placing films in the mouths of the deceased, and was assisted by Melanie Key. Next door my old friend Steve Sedlock, and Summer Grager were performing the same tasks. We were bantering back and forth, trying to keep spirits high, and talking about how tough a situation we were in. We were exhausted, dirty, and feeling extremely sorry for the victims, their families, and to be perfectly honest, ourselves. It was a difficult time. Steve is one of the hardest workers and kindest human beings I have ever met. It was unusual to see and hear him discouraged. Still he pushed forward and refused to quit. On a quick break I went over to look in his eyes, and encourage him in any way I could. All around us the beat went on. The FBI was fingerprinting remains, AFIP was doing dental exams, and the Medical Examiners were prepping for autopsy. This entire scurry around us was within plain view. Across Steves chest I wrote with a Sharpie marker, D.E.R.T. The Dental Enlisted Response Team was born. Though we were just ordinary dental technicians and feeling unappreciated, we too were an important part of the process. And, I refused to let our team forget it. Quickly, Summer Grager added that if we were the D.E.R.T. team then she, Melanie, and Aisha Dean would become Dust Bunnies. So Steve Sedlock became the first member of our dedicated team. Other charter members, affectionately known as the DERTY Dozen are: myself, Dan Hines, Roberto Lebron, Greg McCulley, Ed Anderson, Summer Grager, Melanie Key, Aisha Dean, Phillipia Reynolds, Rebecca Taylor-Vogt, and April Kantner. Within days, a longtime friend and fellow team member suggested we change the title to Evidence rather than Enlisted. After all, it does take dentists to perform forensic dental exams. The effort wound down. In all, 189 human remains were processed by our team in about ten days. We eventually returned to the dental clinic, to patients, and other military duties. Time passed, and we were closer than ever. We had become family, caring about and fighting with, each other as only those closest to one another ever can. There is no way to forget what we went through together, and no doubt it bound us forever through common and shared experience. The D.E.R.T. story could very well have ended right here. But it did not. Just as Dan Hines quarterbacked the digital buildup, he now chose to tackle this cause. He sensed a higher mission, and looking back, he was right. He chose an emblematic design from the 436th dental clinic, and built a challenge coin around it. The very first D.E.R.T. coin was issued to Diane Beecher, our flight commander, for commitment and leadership to her troops. In very short order the DERTY Dozen also had coins in pocket, as a small token of remembrance for what we endured together. For the record, and I assure you it is fact, the list of team leaders is short. It includes myself, Hines, Anderson, Lebron, and currently Mike Hoard and Jennifer Jones. Becoming the team leader is always by appointment and consensus of the original twelve. While officers and civilians can only be honorary members, we have had three D.E.R.T. commanders. They are Diane Beecher, Kirby Amonson, and presently William Vosburgh. There are no comprehensive lists of actual members, as there is no one person singularly responsible for our existence. Hundreds have been admitted to our humble dental forensics team. Our legacy for service continues today. Since March 2003 the D.E.R.T. team has helped identify and return to their homes 2000 American heroes from Iraq and Afghanistan who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Our team members have continued to rotate/change in the face of PCS and retirements. However, one thing remains the same today, as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. The D.E.R.T. team serves with honor and distinction and continues to embody the Air Force ideals of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. Let me assure all who read this that serving with this team has been the highlight of my six assignment, 21-year military career. The people that have worked alongside me under circumstances that human beings should not have to endure are people that I love. Today more than ever I understand that God brought us together to achieve what none of us could have accomplished alone. Not one member has ever been more, or less valuable, than any other. Every single member has made me proud to be a part of something greater than myself, and a part of something that will stand long after we are all gone. If you have been presented a coin, treasure it, and know that those who came before were just like you, and determined to make this world a better place for us all. May God Bless You and God Bless America.

Editor Note: This short article was written by myself in the summer of 2005. It was meant to leave an account of the small group of dental forensics members that were dedicated to their fellow human beings; and more importantly, cared about deeply and took care of each other during a devastating period in all of our lives. Presently, I am working on a manuscript providing a much more detailed account of those two years, but also presenting the incredible emotional and physical toll it placed on the individual team members.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

finding peace up on Wolf Rock....

yesterday morning i climbed up onto Wolf Rock. and, i got to thinking about old friends, and how people come and go in our lives. most of the ones that are the deepest, that teach us the most, and that last the longest are those that usually come unexpectedly. friendship, it seems, is like love. you can't go out and find it. but, when you most need it, if you're really lucky, it finds you. and thats where i'm at in my life; looking back; recalling those special folks who came and went. some for weeks, some months, some years, and some continue to this day. and each one provided some blessing in my life. all taught me something, sometimes against my will; but in recollection as time goes by, it's easy to realize why they appeared when they did. so far in my life i've learned many important lessons, but none more important than this; if you can live gently in peace, live in love - loving and letting others love you, then, things always seem to work out. sometimes just not in the time frame that we desire. i've said it before on this blog, and i'll say it again. i don't believe anyone is reading this by accident. i don't believe in coincidence. you are here to receive a loving message, and if it's meant to be, then you will give in return. either way is ok. things are happening exactly as they are supposed to. so tonight my friends, go in peace and go in love.