The Quad Cities Marathon has been on my bucket list for a while now. It was my first choice in pursuit of 50 States (i.e. running 1 marathon in each of the 50 states +DC) for Illinois, but the reasons are much deeper than just checking something off a list.
For all practical purposes, Petersburg VA, is my “hometown” because that was my childhood home. It was where I went to Elementary school, High School and my home base for when college wasn’t in session. However, it was not my first home. My origin started in Davenport IA (one of the Quad Cities) and was my first home for a few years though I have no recollection of it. I moved to Virginia due to a change in the family structure.
Delicately, I have 2 Dads, the late Bob Tripp and the illustrious Pete Higgins. As a result, I have the Tripp and the expansive Allbee (My Aunt) family in the Quad Cities. So running the marathon will be a sort of homecoming, to run among my family, in the place were I was born and to add a extra factor of coolness ON the day I was born.
In 2006, we lost Bob Tripp, I had dreams of him watching me run a Quad Cities Marathon. We would travel to Iowa so that he could meet his grandsons and I could run the race. I imagined him cheering me on and maybe even riding along with me for a short bit in his electric wheelchair. I “think” he had engineered his chair to get more horsepower because he could get movin’ in that thing. Unfortunately, the last race that involved him, was the race against time to get to Iowa as quickly as possible because his body was failing fast. Due to his service in the Air Force, he is buried in the Rock Island National Cemetery located on the Rock Island Arsenal.
When I looked at the course for the Quad Cities marathon in 2007, I noticed something remarkable. As the marathon crosses Rock Island (One of the Quad Cities), it passes through the Rock Island Arsenal but what jumped out was that it passed the cemetery near Mile 20. Mile 20 is the legendary location where a runner’s willpower is tested. It is late in race and to some it feels like they hit an imaginary “wall”. However, for some snarky runners, the Mile 20 mark is “just the end of a 20 mile warm up and the start of a 10k (6.2 miles) race”. The 2014 course passes the cemetery just after Mile 19 for the Marathon and Mile 12 for the Half Marathon. So, poetically, at the point where my willpower is supposed to be tested, I can suck it up and give a good showing (with maybe a wave and blow a kiss) as I pass the cemetery.
From my father situation, I have The Brothers Tripp, the late Chris and the engineer extraordinaire Jeff. As far as I can recall, Chris never got to see me run. In 2012 when I ran the Georgia Marathon in Atlanta, he had gone to New Orleans that same weekend. Then in 2013, he was gone. This year, I get to start the race with Jeff! He will be running the half and I get to share the course with him until the halfers break off (at mile 8) to head for the finish. I am VERY excited about this chance to run with Jeff!
When I cross the finish line at the Quad Cities Marathon, it will be my 24th marathon finish in my 7th state. I am planning on running a Guess My Time, Win Crap contest for you to play at home but that will be under a separate post, closer to Race Day. In the meantime, I am in the works of another blog post that reminiscences about my training for this marathon.
Touching and impressive, my good man!