Monthly Archives: September 2014

Hypnotically watched buffalo run in waves over the open prairie, toured the world’s 6th longest cavern at Wind Cave National Park – so what next?  Marathon #11 – in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

Arrived in Scottsbluff late – just enough time to pick up my race bib & head over to the pre-race pasta dinner in Gering.  Listened to high school football over the radio – Scottsbluff on one station, neighboring Gering on another.  LOVE small town America.

Actually slept in.  8 a.m. marathon start on a unseasonably hot 90-degree day on the Great American Plains (i.e. no trees).  Not ideal K* conditions…but it is what it is – can’t change the weather.

Would love to blame hot temps for my worst-ever marathon performance, but if I wanna stay honest to the process – gotta call myself out.  Reality is, I’ve dropped both intensity & dedication since Ironman.

you’ve run 10 marathons, why do you still train so much? 

truth is: since evening temps dipped last month, I’ve skipped a lotta early morning runs – opting to sleep late.

you can eat whatever you want, you’re gonna run it all off anyway

Up 11 lbs since July, this boy can put away a meal – and then some.  ALSO haven’t made the best food choices…pizza, spaghetti, mac n cheese & bread have all crept back into the diet.  Comfort food – a sign something’s gone awry.

Soooo…no negativity directed toward this well-run Western Nebraska marathon – I sabotaged today’s results all on my own.


Positive – scenic run thru Scotts Bluff National Park & miles of Nebraska corn fields

Negative – roadside rattlesnake at mile 2

Negative – crazy HOT temps; 2nd to Montana but tough to acclimate after the prior week’s snow

Negative – hit rock bottom as a runner; surprised/shocked how my body shut down

Positive – race volunteer Ali who kept me iced & coherent from mile 15 to the Finish

Negative – walked for miles; it’s a marathon – not a walk-a-thon

Positive – NEVER considered quitting:  8 miles to go; only 5 miles then you can stop; come on, anyone can walk 3 miles!

Positive – short stretch of trees by the cemetery at mile 25, possibly the only trees in all of Western Nebraska

Positive – military lady who screamed lotta positive comments ¾ mile from the Finish

Positive – ugly ending but I did not quit, I FINISHED my 11th state marathon

Positive – Zofran (shot in the rump, wait 15 minutes, then BAM…ready for fluids)

Positive – met 3 Marathon Maniacs, first time I’ve connected with athletes outside of hiking/14er community


Chin up cowboy – positives far outweigh the Negative.

Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from an indomitable will — Mahatma Gandhi

After brushing off my bruised ego, gonna remember what a charmed life I lead.  Truly blessed.  Running oceanside in scenic Newport, Rhode Island in 15 days 🙂


1048 K R Haga 77/106  5:36:29



After exiting SD’s Custer State Park, drove 20 minutes south to Wind Cave National Park.

Just enough time for a quick stop before bib pick-up in Nebraska.  Had never previously heard of this Park but researched online [that] park rangers provided guided cave tours almost year-round.  Bought my $12 ticket, then caught a historical film at the Visitors Center bringing me up-to-speed on everything Wind Cave.

Several mining claims were established at Wind Cave, but the most noteworthy one was by the South Dakota Mining Company in 1890. J.D. McDonald was hired to manage the claim. The mining was unsuccessful, but McDonald and his family realized they could make money by giving cave tours and selling formations from the cave. They filed a homestead claim over the opening and worked on improving a manmade entrance and enlarging passageways for tours.


One of J.D.’s sons, Alvin, spent much of his time exploring and mapping the cave, faithfully keeping a diary and making a map of his findings. On January 23, 1891, Alvin wrote that he had “given up finding the end of Wind Cave”.

The work of one young man – Alvin McDonald – was the inspiration for Wind Cave National Park.  From age 16 Alvin explored & mapped 142 miles (yeah, miles) of tunnels.  Sadly, Alvin died at age 20 from typhoid fever.

Sharing a lotta history – apologies.  Just super impressed that such a young individual could create interest that would result in forming a National Park – ultimately sharing his love of caving with generations of people 125 years later.

So easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day & forget how to dream out loud.  Go Alvin!


LOVED the tour – highly recommended.

In addition to cool 50 degree temps, saw 90% of the world’s boxwork or speleogen deposits.

Boxwork is made of thin blades of calcite that project from cave walls and ceilings, forming a honeycomb pattern. The fins intersect one another at various angles, forming “boxes” on all cave surfaces. Boxwork is largely confined to dolomite layers in the middle and lower levels of Wind Cave.

Crazy full day – no regrets.   2 hours 50 to Scottsbluff.



Wanting to tick another item off my bucket list, coupled the annual buffalo roundup in South Dakota’s Custer State Park with my 11th state marathon in Scottsbluff Nebraska.

Packed & on the road right after work Thursday – road tripped across rural Wyoming, before landing in Hot Springs, SD for the night.  Deep political conversation with the Mumbai-native inn keeper, then 6 hours of shut-eye.

(Indian folk LOVE politics.  Safely skirted a late 11pm ‘Muslim vs Hindu’ discussion by blurting ‘Sonia Gandhi’ 🙂 )

Up at sunrise & an hour north to Custer State Park, focused on arriving before park gates closed to cars.

What I did not plan on were 4 unscheduled stops.  HUGE bulls walked directly in front of/stopping my car – snorting, blowing, showing no fear – allowing ample time for their family harems to safely cross the road.

HUGE STRONG, symbol of the Old West – why I LOVE LOVE bison.

Parked & sat in tall prairie grass awaiting today’s adventure, scheduled to start at 9am.  Looking around, this land hasn’t changed in a hundred years.  Felt like I had been transported to the 1880’s.


Why are the bison rounded up?

The Buffalo Roundup is part of Custer State Park’s management plan to maintain a healthy balance between the number of bison and the available rangeland forage. The park can only sustain a certain number of bison, based on the condition of the grassland and how much food is available. The Buffalo Roundup also allows for some of the animals to be sorted out of the herd, they are then sold at an auction in November.


How many bison are there in the herd?

There are approximately 1,300. Note: The big bull bison are not included in the Roundup because they are more aggressive and are simply hard to round up.


What happens to the bison after they’re in the corrals?

Once placed in the corrals, park staff sorts out approximately 300 animals to be sold, vaccinates the new members of the herd, brands the new calves, and checks the cows for pregnancy. It takes about four days to work the entire herd.


Folks with binoculars stood & the crowd began to murmur.  I could hear their thundering hooves, see the plume of dust across the prairie.  BUFFALO! BUFFALO!  Is this how Native Americans felt?  Heart racing, holding my breath, spine tingling.

Bison racing single-file across the prairie, followed close by cowboys on horseback.

and then it happened….

Tens of buffalo rolled over the hillside in waves, the crowd around me cheered loudly.

Frozen.  No words.

Tatonka.  I am John Dunbar, Dances with Wolves.

A moment in time I’ll never forget.


Make dreams happen, experience life.  Live a life with absolutely no regrets.



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