Saturday, March 22, 2014

Fences, Gettysburg...and Ultrarunning

From Issue 48 of The Gettysburg Magazine* (link here), an article entitled Gettysburg's Small Occurrences: The Story Behind Gettysburg's Ubiquitous Farm Fences.  I will never again just think of the fences at Gettysburg as a routine feature of the landscape.

From a participant 150 years ago:

The time it took to climb to the top of the fence seemed to me an age of suspense.  It was not a leaping over; it was rather an insensible tumbling to the ground in the nervous hope of escaping the thickening missiles that buried themselves in falling victims, in the ground, and in the fence, against which they rattled with the distinctness of large rain drops pattering on a roof.

Way back in 1980, I ran my first marathon, at Gettysburg.  I finished in 4:00 and a few seconds, but I was not bummed out at barely missing the 4 hour barrier.  I had run well, I had stopped to help a runner in distress, and when I crossed the finish line I breathlessly told the bride "There is no wall!"

I could say that because my  sole goal that day was to finish my first marathon comfortably and with something left--no death marches for me.  In truth and in hindsight I was overtrained and held back during the race, but that was a better strategy than the alternative that bites so many first time marathoners.

Back then the philosophy of Gettysburg National Military Park had a bit more of a recreational focus; I doubt that road races are held today on park roads.

*I do some American Civil War research and writing and have had 2 articles published here.  Am working on another right now.

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