Credit to my sister – she corralled all to commit to Fort Smith Arkansas’ inaugural marathon event.  Many thanks!


Pop-ups – new term sis taught me; kinder friendlier word for HILL; might be unique to only her & her local running group; big picture…a hill is a hill is a hill – and this particular course had miles of ’em 🙂

Family Marathon – ran marathon relay with both siblings & a nephew; ok to be jealous – my family ROCKS!


After driving the course on Saturday, lotta discussion over marathon legs:

  • 2 huge hills in Leg 1 (along with pop-ups).  Hill training since December, I was tagged with Leg 1.
  • Leg 2 – longest relay at 7.45 miles.  Half the distance my sister runs every weekend, Leg 2 all hers.
  • Third leg was a mystery – mostly on paved trail, not accessible by car.  Huge hill, then levels off (we think).  Would have been my sister-in-law’s leg but missed for a work commitment.  That left my brother with 7 miles.
  • Last (& shortest) leg to Jack, my 14 year old nephew.  Young & eager, posted a 6:42/mile in track camp.

We ran as Team 4-Layer Delight (named after Mom’s signature dessert).


Woke to near perfect race conditions – 50° & sunshine.  Hadn’t run relay since high school, near 100 years ago.  “Never drop the baton” – I remember that was a relay runner’s biggest fear.  Fast forward to 2015 – same medal baton, tech-tweaked with a timing chip.

Lined way way back.  Pop, gun start & I ran – side-stepping runners, targeting the 3:45 pace group.

Since I started out fast, focused early on air intake (controlled breathing) just before the turn on Free Ferry (2 mile mark).  Multiple pop-ups, then a right on Albert Pike – first of my 2 huge hills.  Had been lagging behind 2 young runners, up & down Free Ferry.  This hill however was all mine – I owned it.  Strong arms, kept pushing, crested, then flew the other side.  Turned up the tunes & settled into my next mile.  Up the 2nd huge hill – a serpentine climb per my sis; call these switchbacks in Colorado.  Couldn’t see the top – just kept pushing. Popped over, relay exchange ahead.  Already?  Handed off the baton to my sister, pacing a sub-3:40 marathon.  WOW!

Because of traffic delays, only my sister (& nephew) drove the start of Leg 2.  I asked Jack if he knew how to get to Leg 3 – a quick yes, so I handed him the keys.  At almost 6’ feet, I never knew he was only 14 & could not drive.  HA!

Parked at First Nat’l Bank (site of Leg 3) where I met up with Ash & Tom, Mom, bro, niece, etc etc etc…talk about crowd support.  Pumped, still felt super strong.  Knowing my brother doesn’t run regularly, asked if he‘d mind I join him.  And that’s the way it went.  Sis finished under 4 hour marathon pace, handed off the baton & off we journeyed.

Half mile trek then – HUGE hill.  UP, UP, UP…we passed several walkers, neither of us stopped.  Slow steady pace.  Gotta say my brother’s leg was the least scenic – exception: mounted police.  Pretty cool – no horse patrol in my prior races.  Nice job, Fort Smith!

Bro felt all 7 miles as we neared Old Greenwood – but never stopped, he kept moving.  Don’t know too many people who wake up & think – today I’ll run 7 miles (with no training).  Leg 3 ended flat– deceptively, that final quarter-mile lasted forever.

Ready, ready, ready to run.  Young Jack was all smiles.  Hand-off complete, we boarded cars & rushed to the Finish Line – Team shirts in hand.  A half mile out, pulled a Team shirt over Jack’s head & all crossed together (including his dad who ran the half marathon).

My first marathon relay – 13th Place (just over 4 hours).  Go Team 4-Layer Delight!

Lunch at Longhorn’s, quick shower, airport.  Under an hour ’til take-off, TSA drama – Ash lost her license (also inadvertently packed a half-bottle of water).  Luckily, she also carries a Costco card.  Who knew that would come in so handy?

Family marathons, highly recommended.  A moment in time I’ll never forget.


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