DAYS 18..and beyond....RACE ACROSS AMERICA-Louis Rodriguez updates

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Posted by Gail Marino on August 02, 2004 at 10:16:31:

In Reply to: RACE ACROSS AMERICA-Louis Rodriguez updates posted by Gail Marino on August 02, 2004 at 09:02:43:

Written by Agnes Oquendo, who is crewing for Louis Rodriguez, who is participating in the Race Across America; see previous posts for details. -GM


I know that I am skipping a lot of days but today is fresh in my mind & I will write on the other days also. Sorry if I confuse you.
We leave bright and early this am for our 46.7 mile run, 5:15 to be exact, from the hotel to drive to the start. We start in Marysvale, Utah (5866 ft) to Salina (5160 ft) at 6am, although I believe we started a few minutes later. It is a little cool but not as cool as yesterday. Of course it is quite dark when we start out. I don't think that there are too many of us awake yet. The crew of runners line up ( Lou, Taka, Olivier, Kaz, Don, Bob, Russell & Luc) for a routine photo shoot & last minute instructions for the day before the official "get set & go". The other journey runner, Graeme has decided to return to New Zealand after saying his goodbyes to everyone yesterday.
The runners take off but not so enthusiastic this morning. Dressed in a sweatsuit, jetblue vest, backpack, cap & of course sneakers, Lou is somewhere in the middle of the pack but today he is also equipped with a bicycle light reflecting from his back that he found during yesterdays run. So between the reflecting stripes from his vest & the light, I know exactly where he is.
After Lou's adjustment from Chiropracter Dr. Edward Rose in Richfield, he felt good but the plan today is to run about 15miles & increase it tomorrow. The hip discomfort is present,.so on went the herb cream & in went good old buddy ibuprophen, & off Lou went to run in the mountains. I was amazed at how many beautiful colors & shapes were present in the formation of these mountains. With the winding roads, the moutains had the illusion of them coming down to engulf us. I was almost expecting to see Indians come around the pass.
After 8 miles, Lou decided to "rest" for a while. So we decided to cheer on the other runners. All of a sudden, it was as though the heavens were not happy with that decision, so the rain came. The weather kept changing, cool, warm & rain, I thought that I was having a hot flash. Once we arrived in the town of Joseph, we found mailboxes for our breast cancer information & the convenient stores allowed us to leave them for their customers.
In Elsinore, we left them in the Silver Eagle & in mailboxes. Lou then started running with Taka at 20.9 miles. Taka looked uncomfortable & could use some company. So as I crewed, I left the pamphlets in mailboxes & of course to people who stopped us on the road. As Lou ran, the sun came out & when he lenghtened his stride he noticed the hip discomfort was not there. So he put in 8 more miles, now thats 16miles today. Once in Richfield, I approached the mailperson & she told me that her mother in law died from breast cancer. So far everyone we have spoken to knows someone affected by breast cancer & is extremely thankful for the reminder or the information.
The last 16 miles or so, we were double crewing Taka in order to help him in before the cutoff. It was clearly evident that he was hurting. The past week he has been making it in just before cutoff. We can see that his leg is red & swollen. Lou also realized that in this high altitude, swelling is going to happen. Lou had a small basketball in his truck given to him by his grandson Nene. It was almost flat when he left for California & now it is filled with air.
As we were double crewing Taka, who was falling a bit behind in time, Lou jumped back in to run with Taka. Kaz & his crew came to help after he finshed running. So we were sort of triple crewing him. He was getting very close not making it. Olivier & his crew came the last 2 miles to cheer him on also. Taka is the baby of the runners, being 21 yrs old. But it was quite awesome watching this go on. People were stopping to watch us. The sheriff drove by & just waved. It reminded me of the old Stapleton AC, we used to go back & help our team mates in after we finihed racing. Anyway Taka made it in with a minute or so to spare before the cutoff. There was not a dry eye amongst us when Taka went through the finish line. There were plenty of hugs after we sat Taka down, but he had to stand in order to hug Lou for helping him in.
Tomorrows run is from Salina (5160 ft) to Meadow Gulch (7800 est ft) for 33.2 miles. Until then.
Lou & Agnes


We drove about 2 miles to Salina for the start of todays run. It starts at Salina (5160 ft) to Meadow Gulch (7800 ft) Utah for 33.2 miles with a cutoff time of 9hrs 29 mins 09sec. Its a very cool, dark morning, as was evident by how Lou was dressed, wool cap, sweatsuit, jb vest, backpack & sneakers. The runners took off, I watched as Lou ran in behind the front runners. I then stopped across the street to fill the gas tank up before I drive up at the mile marker or so for a water stop. As I drive up the course, I see Lou in 1st position, so I get up there quick. He is running extremely well as 2 other runners are pushing to try to stay behind him. They probably thought that he would come back to them in a few minutes & when he didn't had to push to try to catch him. It was exciting for me & the Japanese crew as we watched the show. Apparently Lou found a comfortable spot when he opened up his stride. It seems that ultras tend to have a short quick stride rather than the longer stride. This seemed to work & it looked good to me. This 1st position went on for 4miles then the next 6 miles was back & forth with Bob the runner from Britain. The other runners tried to hang for a while but backed off. After that Lou backed off& eventually 2 other runners caught up. Lou then stopped for a few minutes to have something to eat & drink before going on but at a slower pace.
The road that we were traveling on was a narrow dirt trail along the I-70 highway that consisted of treelined mountains, occaisional hills, winding roads with tunnels & caves under the highway through the mountains, some streams & cattle. Crewing wasn't bad because we were pretty much the only traffic.
After going through a tunnel, I pulled over to the side of the road waiting for Lou for a water stop. I turned around because I heard a funny noise & to my surprise, a heard of cattle was coming my way. I had the car turned off & I just sat there. Then I see a car chasing them to the other side of the the narrow road, it was Kaz's crew, a older gentleman, I call pappa. We pass through cattle grid all the time but this is the 1st time I actually saw cattle this close. Then coming through the tunnel is Lou & Kaz with a few more cows, then a larger cow who seemed not happy started charging our way, meanwhile Lou is carrying a P.R. flag sticking out of his backpack ( bright red colors) & Kaz is wearing red striped tights. All I can think about is bullfighters & the red cape. Then pappa comes again with the car & a big stick & the cow decides to go the other way. I guess we were on their land.
I really enjoyed this route. It was quite beautiful, red mountains & of course a little excitement. The altitude was high because my ears kept popping as if I were on a airplane, I wonder what the rockies is going to be like. The weather was a bit strange today also. It started out cold, became warm, then cold, then it rained, then cool, then hot again. I kept putting my jacket on & off. Lou ran well, very little discomfort if any. He finished the stage for today, 33.2 miles with a bit of speedplay in there. Not bad for a little run. I cannot even imagine putting in this type of mileage every single day, more than a marathon a day.
Taka made it to the start today. He said that he felt better than yesterday. Taka kept telling me yesterday, "have to go to New York." All along the course we saw Taka's crew, so we knew that he wasn't too far off. As we were finshing up our last mile, Kaz went back to check on Taka after he finished. We cheered Olivier when he came in. The finish was at a rest stop on I-70. People at the stop were also waiting around for the runners to come in because they saw them running as they were driving on the highway. Then Lou & I backtracked to meet Taka because he was getting close to cutoff time. We found him running with his crew & Kaz, so we joined in. He was hurting but moved better than yesterday. Taka made it to the finish with 5 minutes to spare. All in all it was a good day.
Tomorrows run is from Meadow Gulch (7800 FT) to Castle Dale (5771 FT) for 41.9 miles. Til tomorrow.
Lou & Agnes


After a 30 minute drive to the start at a rest stop on I-70 from Meadow Gulch (7800 ft), the run is to Castle Dale, Utah (5771 ft) for 41.9 miles with a cutoff of 11hrs 58min 17secs. It was a cool start & Lou was dressed in his usual heavy attire. Don asked him, "what are you going to wear in the Rockies"? While Bob took it out fast, Kaz was in 2nd position, Lou decided to hang with Taka in the back of the pack. It was quite evident by his shuffle, that Taka was uncomfortable. So the duo traveled together for the next 8 miles, then Lou decided to help Taka by double crewing him. We helped keep Taka within the cutoff times for the 1st 30 miles, it was the last 11.9 miles that we were worried about.
Basicly the run was on Highway 10 North. It was a nice scenic area of mountains. We went through a town called Emery where we left breast cancer pamphlets in the churches. In the town of Ferron, we were waiting for Taka at a mile marker when we noticed the same car driving past us 3 or 4 times then it finally pulled up beside us. It was occupied by a married couple asking us about the runners. We answered their questions & gave them the pamphlets only to find out that she was a 30 yr cancer surviver. She is 57 yrs of age.
With 3.5 miles to go, Lou & kaz joined Taka in order to help Taka finish up before the cutoff. When we reached the town of Castle Dale, the streets were buzzing with spectators. As Taka was nearing the finish, the usual runners & crews were there to cheer him on with about a minute or 2 to spare. Taka finished another stage because he had encouragement & help from a few who besides love the run but most importantly have compassion for a fellow human being.
Every time Taka finished a stage just at cutoff in excruciating pain & tears in his eyes because he can do it again tomorrow is heartbreaking to watch but I do understand his pain & motivation. But to watch Lou continue in this run as a journey runner because he didn't make the cutoff & help Taka make the cutoff everyday breaks my heart. He knows what it feels like not to make the cutoff & he is out there making sure that this young man does not find out how it feels. It hurts because no one bothered to help him in, not even his fellow Americans. It is sad that winning the race takes presidence over compassion & kindness. Yes, you can finish your run & go back & check on the others to see if they need anything rather than secretly cheering because the competition is out of the way. I know what an acheivement this endeavor is & Lou is continuing on for a worthy cause other than a personal acheivement & I applaud him because I know of no other that would do the same.
Tomorrows run is from Castle Dale (5771 ft) to Helper Utah (5640 ft) for 40.6 miles with a cutoff of 11hrs 36min. Til Tomorrow.
Lou & Agnes

RACE ACROSS AMERICA Day 23 - Happy 4th of July.

Today started out from Duchesne (5517 ft) to Roosevelt, Utah (5100 ft) for 28.2 miles with a cutoff of 8 hrs 3 mins. It was a cool morning and Lou dressed in his usual heavy garb of clothing. We had our last few min. of instructions from the race director, Alan. He added being a holiday, we may have a bit of traffic & to be careful, then saying something in jest, like this is the anniversary that we kicked the Brits out. There were a few little jokes then they were off. Bob, Russell & Luc went out in the first pack then Kaz, then Olivier, Don then Taka & Lou trailed behind. The herbal creams that we picked up in Santa Clara must be working well because Lou has been sharing them with Taka & Taka was running much better as well as feeling better. So Lou went on his own & by the time I got to the mile mark, Lou was in 1st position. I think that the 3 guys thought that he would come back to them as one joked, there goes the blue jet.
Lou was feeling pretty good & was running almost like his old self. After a few miles out, the heavy jacket came off & eventually the sweatpants & Lou was showing his patriotism with a American Flag hat & a pair of running shorts with a Vietnam Flag patch sewn on. The patch was given to him by another Vietnam Vet that walks in Clove Lakes Park. The course was along highway 40, that consisted of rolling hills, beautiful ranches with horses along the left side of the road and way in the back there were mountains with snowcaps. What a beautiful site. We were having fun. It felt good to move & crew as I did for him during the 1st week of the run. By the time I found a spot to park, I saw Lou showing up shortly after. The rush of adrenaline was coming back for me through watching Lou run. I laughed as Lou went past a field of bulls along the left, it appeared as though they all turned their heads to watch him go by.
Lou finished todays run in 4hrs 2mins. We then went back along the course to check in on our friend Taka as well as Olivier & Kaz. We were pleased to see that they were all doing fine & that Taka was within the cutoff times but we hung in there with taka to cheer him on to his finsh with 13 minutes to spare. What comes to mind now is during takas struggle to make cutoff a few days ago, Lou picked a flower & gave it to Taka. When Taka passed through the finishline at cutoff time, he was still holding that flower.
For those of you who believe in Lou's ability as a runner, I am pleased to say that he & Taka are on the road to recovery. But Lou's trip here is two fold, he is here as a runner but also as a man who has committed himself to pass along this journey a hope that the message of early detection will spare someones life through the 71 days. We have spoken to many people & left countless pamphlets everywhere we went. In fact, I have to order more because we are already running low.
Till tomorrow.
Lou & Agnes


6am start from Roosevelt (5100 ft) to Vernal (6109 ft) for 30.3 miles with a cutoff of 8hrs 39 min. It was a slightly cool morning but a different type of chill in the air. There was the usual chatter amongst the front runners. Lou & Taka starting out together. Basicly, it was a straight run without turns. Lou only put in 4 miles today because I suppose his heart was not in it today.
We stayed along with Taka throughout the run helping with crewing & making cutoff time. He ran well solo making it in with 15 minutes to spare.
Thanks Lou & Agnes


If you have been reading RAA website, you know that Bob was the stage winner for Sunday 7/4/04 the 23rd stage with a time of 4:29. Lou finished the course in 4:02, but his efforts were unrecognized by race management because of his journey runner status. That night race management had decided to add a new rule for journey runners effective July 4, 2004, " a runner who fails to make the cutoff and as a result is out of the race may continue as a journey runner and complete as many stages as he wishes. However, such journey runners may not run in front of the first 3 runners at any time during a stage".
We were unaware of any such rules regarding journey runners because there weren't any written rules told or given to us. Although we may not agree with such ruling, we will ablige by them. We ask that at this time, please do not write RAA regarding this matter, we would like to continue with this run, so that we may continue to pursue our commitment to early detection & awareness of breast cancer.
Todays run was from Vernal (6109 ft) to Dinosaur, Colorado (5900 ft) for 33.9 miles with a cutoff time of 9hrs 9secs. Another cool morning, Lou dressed heavy as usual & running with Taka in the back of the pack. Taka was looking well. Kaz runs with his number & Graeme Best's number also. The traffic was little heavier than usual for 6am.
After 3 miles out, Lou moved up a little from Taka, in order for him to find his own pace & be able to move on his own. Taka did well yesterday on his own. He is getting better but he has lost a few pounds from the start of this run on June 12th. I was crewing about every mile, so it gave me the opportunity to hit a few mailboxes on the route for our breast cancer pamphlets. Taka was running 15-16 minute miles & the cutoff was 17 min/mile, so he was doing well. Lou then started to add in some speedwork into his run. He caught up to Don & eventually passed him. I stopped at a small cafe for a cup of coffee & leave some pamphlets there. The woman made me a cup & told me that she had a mastectomy in April after recovering from a heart attack. She had kept her lump a secret for 2 months because she didn't want to burden her children.
I also met a woman at the Post office, (a water stop) who's best friends mother was diagnosed & now they do the Susan G. komen walk each yr. Along the route there was a huge team of cyclists going the opposite way from us. So we weren't the only crazy ones out there in the heat. Lou finished the stage in 7hrs 47min. We then went back for Taka who was running under the cutoff time but was slowing down a little. So we were able to cheer him on & help him in before cutoff with 11 minutes to spare. Olivier ran the whole course rather than walk & beat Kaz in today.
Tomorrow we run to Elk Springs, Colorado for 45.1 miles. Til then.
Lou & Agnes
P.S. Please don't write to RAA. Thank you.

RACE ACROSS AMERICA Day 31 (7/12/04)

We started out todays run from Winter Park (9110 ft) to Idaho Springs (7540 ft) for 36.7 miles with a cutoff of 10hrs 29mins. Winter Park is very beautiful as well as very busy. It is a very popular skiing area as well as cycling. There were many cyclist on the road. It was extremely cold for todays start. It is July and it felt like winter and the smell of Christmas from the pine trees almost fooled me into thinking that it was truly winter.
The run stated out with rolling hills as the usual packs gathered along, Bob with Russell, Luc & kaz behind them, then Lou & Taka. The rolling hills eventually became a climb up a mountain. In the background we can see snow on the mountain peaks. By 13.5 miles we were in the Continental Divide- Berthoud Pass at elevation of 11,307 ft. Of course there were mailboxes to be found along Hwy 40 for our breast cancer pamphlets. What goes up the mountain must come down and down they did in elevation. My ears were popping along this trip.
Taka finshed within 7min of the cutoff. Lou finshed the stage also.
til tomorrow Lou & Agnes


It started out as a cool morning from Idaho Springs (7524 ft) to Denver (5280)nfor 31.9 miles with a cutoff of 9hrs 6mins but it warmed up firly early. Today is the last day for 2 crew members, Sumio - Kaz's crew member. Satoko has arrived & crewed with Sumio today & will crew for Kaz for the remainder of the trip. One of Taka's crew is leaving after today also, so the 2 boys will be alone, Taka with his crew Yota, also 21 yrs of age.
Lou decided to run behind the first 3 runners, Bob, Russel & Luc. Todays run had something for everyone. It started off in town then along a road for 2.6 miles where crews could not go, then along hwy 40, on I-70 east, up Lookout Mountain Road, then a steady ride down the mountain, then through the town in Denver. I found many, many mailboxes along hwy 40 today for our breast cancer pamphlets. I had to order more because my supply is almost gone. We started out with a huge box filled with them.
Lou ran well today. He tried really hard to obey the new rule for the journey runner, not to pass the 1st 3 runners but there were just too many pit stops between the 4 of them so after 10 miles Lou just hung back a bit. We did some site seeing along the mountain climb as well as during the desent from the hill. There was some construction along S. Golden Road & one of the workers told us that he recently had been diagnosed with cancer and wished us well.
Lou finished in 4th place today. Taka made it in with 12 min. to spare. We then went to buy sneakers for Lou at the Runners Roost in Denver on Colorado Blvd. To our surprise, the owner saw the guys running in Winter Park the other day & recognized us. She gave Lou a discount as well as supplying the runners & crew with caps & water bottles. She also allowed us to leave our pamphlets in her store. One of the employees, a young woman, told us that she lost her mother to breast cancer.
Tomorrow run is from Denver to Byers for 46.8 miles. Til then,
Lou & Agnes

That's all the news that I've received so far. Don't forget, you can also go over to the Race Across America website at More news as it comes in! -GM

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