DAYS 43-50: RACE ACROSS AMERICA-Louis Rodriguez updates

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Posted by Gail Marino on August 03, 2004 at 11:58:37:

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

RACE ACROSS AMERICA – Day 43: Saturday, July 24

Our run started from Marysville, Kansas (1,202 ft) to Sabetha (1,318 ft) for 43.3 miles with a cutoff time of 12hrs 22min. At the start, not only was it dark but cool & drizzling. They say that this type of weather is unusual this time of year. Lou and Taka were in the back of the pack and within a few minutes the rain was coming down heavier as well as a nice wind coming from all directions.
After 12 miles of this cold pouring rain, Lou decided to help crew Taka the rest of the run & help him make it in before cutoff time. Yoda then knocked on our window and asked if we could crew Taka for him so that he could drive into the next town and buy some rain wear for Taka. So we did. After Yoda left, it was quite evident to us that Taka was getting cold. So Lou removed his rain jacket and gave it to Taka. Then he gave Taka his heavy jetblue hat to help keep the heat in. When Yoda returned he was passing Taka up because he thought it was Lou. He did look like Lou from a distance. Yoda couldn't find any rainwear in town so he brought back a box of garbage bags. Soon after, we put a pair of Lou's rain pants on Taka. He looked like a combo of Lou & Taka together.
The rain eventually stopped but it did remain cool. Most of the day Taka was behind cutoff 7 minutes but we got him to 1 minute behind. Alan had told Yoda that Taka was ahead 7 minutes but Lou & I calculated it a few times & could not see that. The last mile left, Alan realized that he made a mistake in calculations. Lou had to help Taka move a little faster in order to make cutoff because Taka thought that he could rest a little. Lou got Taka in within 4 minutes of cutoff.
Thanks, till tomorrow.
Lou & Agnes


Sorry that the stories are out of order [they've been put back in sequential order when possible-gm] but we cannot always get out online due to some of the motels are not equipped for the service.
It was a cool start today from Sabetha, Kansas (1318 ft) to Elwood (813 ft) for 50.8 miles with a cutoff time of 14 hrs 30 min. The course mainly consisted of rolling hills along highway 36 with views of ranches and fields & of course mailboxes.
The front was as usual, Russel & Luc & Bob then Kaz, then Olivier, then Don and Lou along with Taka. When Bob is ready to move on to the front, Luc & Russell step aside & off Bob goes through the middle. I do realize that this is a different type of race & one must conserve their energy for later & tomorrow but no one tries to even follow Bob or keep him in their sight. It is a shame that Lou was injured because this never happened when Lou was in the race. From this spectators view it is no longer a race, it is a run. I have seen more challenges from our Sunday morning long runs from Clove Lakes to Bayonne Park & back.
The sun did come out but there was a cool breeze that continued on. We are almost out of breast cancer pamphlets. We did order more from the ACS, but Mary, the race manager said that it did not arrive yet. I hope that they come soon.
Lou stayed with Taka for the 1st 20 miles then his left quad started to tighten up so we stayed with Taka as his 2nd crew & support trying to help keep him within the cutoff time. Lou has helped Taka stay within the cutoff for many weeks now & some days were very close, it is a shame that not one of the other runners felt compassion enough to do the same for Lou in his time of need.
If you calculated correctly, you will note that 14 hrs 30 mins is 8:30 pm. We have been out since 6am this morning. Its a long day, isn't it? Taka had been keeping one minute all along ahead of cutoff time, so we knew that as the miles progressed so would the chances of Taka falling behind. The later we get done every day, the shorter time there is for rest in between the start of the next days run.
When we left Taka for the final time before the finsh, there was just 1 mile left and the crews vehicle could not go the same route as the runner for the final mile. So we drove to the finish line then Lou backtracked to get to Taka because he knew that he would slow down thinking that he had "many minutes left" , as Taka would say. Alan, the race director kept saying that he would not make it this time. All of a sudden, Lou & Taka appeared with less than a minute to go and a little red cord between them and Lou saying "keep going". Lou was holding one end of the cord & Taka the other end and basicly, Lou was pulling Taka to the finish line with this cord. Taka made it with 16 SECONDS left only. Alan had made a joke only about a week ago about Lou pulling Taka to the finish line & that there weren't any rules against it. (That is, not yet anyway). When Alan said that Taka would not make it, I saw tears in Yodas eyes (Takas crew). I know that feeling first hand from experience. It was funny to watch Taka scratching his head & repeating over and over again 16 minutes. Then when he realized what had occured he hugged Lou.
Til tomorrow
Lou & Agnes


Today we started in Elwood Kansas (813 ft) to Hamilton Missouri (994 ft) for 47.5 miles with a cutoff time of 13hrs 34mins. The start was a cool morning over the Missouri Bridge and through the town and past the Missouri Western State College and then back onto highway 36 which is a divided highway. So crewing becomes a little more challenging using the crossroads to get to the other side to aide the runners but we manage. I was able to find many mailboxes along this route also. Lou stayed with Taka for the 1st 12 miles then we helped crew him the rest of the way.
On one of our stops a woman stopped & asked if we were with the runners. We explained that we were running for breast cancer awareness & education on early detection & that this was the run across america and we gave her our breast cancer pamphlet along with the runs website. She told us that she lost her dad to cancer. A few stops later, we met an 80 yr old man who lost his grandson to cancer. When Lou told him he didn't look a day older than 60, he said, "I wish I had a quarter, I'd give it to you for that". Then shortly after that, the woman we met earlier found us because she went home & read the website & brought us water, cookies & other supplies for the road because we would not accept a donation but grateful for our efforts. Thank you Michelle, that was very kind of you, it is truly appreciated.
Well, I felt like running & Taka needed some company on the road. So I attempted what Lou had been doing all along. Cutoff time is basicly averaged to a 17 minute mile. I put on the headset and tried to run with Taka either in front or behind in order for him to have someone there. It is so difficult to run a 17 minute mile when you are not injured. I really tried but beleive it or not, it hurts more to run that slow when you are not used to running that pace. I don't know how Lou did it when he is faster than I am & I had difficulty trying to accomplish this. I tried to stay about 100 yds in front of Taka so he can have me in his site & that was not easy either but I did so for 6 miles. Just to let you know that Taka has a 2:30 marathon time & because of this injury he is barely making cutoff time at 17min miles. Taka made cutoff with 11minutes to spare with Lou helping him in the last 2.5 miles.
Til tomorrow, thanks.
Lou & Agnes


Today's run consisted of 50.4 miles from Hamilton, Missouri (994 ft) to Brookfield (767 ft) with a cutoff time 14 hrs 24 min. With our usual 6am start, we were greeted with a slightly cool morning and the makings of a warm sunny day. First thing this morning, we were greeted with an e-mail sent to us through the runs website, for us, from Michelle whom we met on the road yesterday. Thank you Michele, we were extremely touched by your letter & how you went out of your way to go back out & look for us & find us. Thank you again, what a wonderful way to start our day.
Lou took Taka out for the 1st 2 miles then thought it would be wise to give his quad a rest for today, so we helped crew & supported Taka the rest of the run. He actually looked stronger today but of course tired because like us, we are in late from the runs & out early with little time in between for anything else. We found many mailboxes along the divided highway of 36 & along the side roads that we used for water stops.
Olivier, one of the French runners was having a problem with blisters, he was not doing so well today. The "Saint Bernard of runners", is what he calls Lou because Lou has been helping Taka make cutoff time for weeks & he also helped Olivier a few times last month. He says that when the runners are in trouble, Lou comes along & picks them up. So when we saw Olivier struggling a little bit, we alternated between him & Taka in order to keep them going. When we caught up to Olivier, Lou barked at him carrying a bottle of water in a jetblue lunch bag under his chin for him. It put a smile on Olivier's face.
As Lou was trying to shield Taka from a barking dog playfully wagging his tail, while supplying Taka with water, we met the dog owner, a cancer survivor herself. She is a 4 yr colon cancer survivor & presently battling breast cancer. I said sheilding Taka from the dog because he is extremely fearful of dogs. We have witnessed him run into traffic in order to get away and or avoid all dogs.
Taka finished well today and so did Olivier. Taka told Lou, "I am glad you run fast the other day". He was refering to the day he made it in within 16 seconds of cutoff because of the cord that helped reel him in.

Til tomorrow when the run is from Brookfield to Clarence for 43.4 miles.
Thanks, Lou & Agnes


It was slightly cool this morning for the start of todays run from Brookfield, Mo to Clarence for 43.4 miles with a cutoff time of 12 hrs 24 mins .Because of our late finishes and early starts, we have not been able to do any laundry or shopping for supplies. The cubbards or rather the cooler is almost empty. In the small towns the stores close earlier than our finishes, so there have been a few times we went with the bare necessities. Lou took Taka out for the start, gave him a few things to work on today such as going a little faster & open up the stride at every other water stop then we went shopping for supplies at the walmart in town & look for a place to do laundry. Well the shopping got done but we never found a place to do laundry.
So off we went to the course and found Taka doing very well. For the first time in a long time he was within the cutoff time & maintaining it. This obviously gave him a boost of confidence. He was feeling better & actually looking better as well. He has learned the long arm swing while walking from Lou. Lou learned this from Olivier. Before the run, Olivier spent 5 hrs with an experienced walker who taught him the tricks of the trade on how to walk faster and he shared them with Lou. Crewing went well today for Taka because we alternated miles with Yoda for Takas aid & or water stops and it gave Yoda a little break.
There are still many mailboxes along the course for us along the rolling hills. Taka was able to maintain his pace within cutoff time. The last few miles of the course were fairly dangerous due to the shorter gravel shoulder especially with the steady flow of traffic mixed with trucks. Lou helped Taka in before cutoff within 14mins. Taka was very happy with his day. So at the finish the two compadres toasted their efforts with ensure. We are still on hwy 36. We have been giving Lou's quad a little break to rest it and implemented a few things to aid in its recovery after confering with Ted Corbitt.
Til tomorrow from Clarence to Hannibal for 49.3 miles.
Lou and Agnes

RACE ACROSS AMERICA – Day 48: Thursday, July 29

It was 64 degrees, a slightly cool start for todays 49.3 miles from Clarence, Mo to Hannibal with a cutoff time of 14hrs 5min. Lou and Taka are together enjoying the rolling hills with the view of corn and soy fields and the railroad tracks to the right of us but not the gravel shoulder they were running on. Kaz was just ahead of them, doing Lou's bobbing q-tip running but he is complaining of ankle pain. Taka is feeling good & staying under the cutoff time & maintaining. Olivier is also feeling well. He is fortunate to have 4 crew members, with his wife, and parents among them.
As I was parked in front of the South Shelby School at the 9.3 mark, a man pulled up next to me and informed me that a crew vehicle is in trouble up ahead, "they pulled into a ditch" he said. My thoughts right away was that it was G, Dons crew. He had backed into a hole before & Oliviers family helped him out & we supplied Don with water. After I crewed Lou, I went to see who it was. It was Ryota, Taka's crew. The road has a shoulder & at the end of the shoulder the road just drops & it is very deceiving because the grass covers the drop. Ryota pulled on to the shoulder & felt the front wheel on the passenger side slide down & he could't stop it, hence the the front wheel dropped down into the ditch & the rear drivers side is up in the air. Lou & Police Chief Bowen arrived within minutes & along with G & Ryota pushed the rear down & attempted to drive the car out but it wouldn't move. Lou looked under the vehicle & noticed the oil dripping. So the rental company had to replace the vehicle for them. So the officer spoke to the rental company for Ryota & we continued on while Ryota waited for the replacement car & I crewed Taka for him.
A woman from the local paper arrived looking for the runners & took photos of Lou & Taka. After 30 miles, Lou decided to move ahead at his own pace. Taka was 30 minutes ahead of cutoff time & holding. I was crewing both of them & as the distance grew between them, it made crewing even more challenging. Eventually Kaz was between Lou & Taka. I think that Kaz was laughing at me driving back & forth all day. As the distance grew so did the speed of the car. I think that Taka felt bad for me driving back & forth & was trying to run faster.
At 3:30 Ryota showed up with a new car, and to crew Taka. Lou caught up to Don and was moving ahead to find Olivier. At the finish, Taka came in with 50 minutes to spare. Lou waited for about 20 minutes before crossing the finish line so that he can pass with Don because he told him he would, so he did. It turned out to be a nice sunny day, Taka did great & we found many mailboxes for our breast cancer pamphlets. til tomorrow.
Lou & Agnes


[? ? ? – I didn't get this report yet, but will post it if it comes in –gm]

RACE ACROSS AMERICA – Day 50: Saturday, July 31

The sun is out but it is a slightly cool start for this 53.7 miles from Pittsfield to New Berlin with a cutoff time of 15hrs 20 min or 9:20pm. I watched the start, Lou and Taka in the back and then went to finish loading the car. When I caught up to the runners for the 1st water stop at 2 miles, the figures weren't Lou & Taka. It was Don then Olivier. Lou and Taka together for the 1st time in weeks, passed not one runner but 2 runners. Takas face was lit up like a 7yr olds face on Christmas morning. I have to bake 2 cakes now. I told Lou a week ago that I will bake him a cake when Taka is strong enough to pass a runner because I know, that alone will boost his confidence.Too bad there's no baking in the motels.
At 5 miles, Taka was in front of Don & Kaz. At 6 miles, just Kaz, but today was the 1st of many to come for Taka and it felt good, even from where I was sitting. Besides today is a very long day so backing down a little to finish the stage is the plan. We found many mailboxes along the route for the breast cancer info. We are running low and my sister Tina and Lou's friend Yeison have made trips to the local ACS in their hometowns to replenish our stock.
At 11.2 miles they had to cross a very narrow draw bridge over the Illinois River that was dangerous, one wrong step & its a long drop down. So Lou had to help Taka with his crossing. Ryota & I awaited their arrival at the other side of the bridge and when Lou, Taka & Kaz appeared, it looked like "los tres amigos" to me.
Taka returned to his last place position, but was well ahead of cutoff & holding. By 10am it was 78 degrees and getting warmer. In Oxville, we saw llamas and they came right up to the fence to greet us. Then a few miles up we saw a barking 3 legged dog. Taka is so afraid of dogs & started to panic, but we assured him that this dog was harmless. Then we ran past peacocks & kaz picked up a feather from the ground for a souvenir. Then at 24 miles, a dog began running with Kaz. He stayed with Kaz for 6miles then sat down beside a tree to rest. I hope the dog is not lost now. When Taka ran by the dog, he got up as if to run with Taka, then changed his mind & sat back down beside the tree.
We are running on Old Route 36 and pass through Jacksonville, a fairly big town with beautiful homes & lots of mailboxes. Taka waits for the traffic light to change in order to cross & Lou tries to tell Taka, its ok to cross on the red when running if there aren't any cars approaching. The last few miles Taka is getting tired so we drive along side of him playing hip hop music for him & the corn hoping to help him move. He likes techno music and hip hop. Well either we get Taka moving with the music or maybe the corn will develop a new flavor. But anyway, Taka finished this very long run with passing up 2 runners & also for the 1st time with 1hr 12 minutes to spare.
Well now it is quite late & we have to drive 20 miles to the hotel. So we order delivery for dinner & very little rest before we do this again tomorrow at 6am. We have to get up at 3:30 in order to be ready to drive to the start. Tomorrow's run is 52 miles from New Berlin to Decatur.
Til tomorrow.
Lou & Agnes

That's the latest news I have from the road. You can also go over to the Race Across America website at for more. Watch for details on Lou's homecoming in Central Park on August 21….. -GM

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