Twin Cities – Louisiana Style!

Twin City Marathon and Half Sunday, November 7. Monroe-West Monroe LA

Bullie Bell and I took a trip to the Twin City this weekend. No, it wasn’t Minneapolis-Saint Paul or Dallas-Fort Worth or even Akron-Canton! Those are Twin Cities!It was the Twin City Marathon and Half Marathon in Monroe-West Monroe Louisiana.

A short 1 1/2 hours from our home in Jackson MS, it was the perfect Half for Jennifer to do following her injury from a fall in New Hampshire about 5 weeks ago. This is the 3rd year for the race and Jennifer’s first time to run it. Actually, not wanting to stress the healing injury… I should have said, “she walked it” with a couple of jogs along the way.

Packet Pick Up was in Monroe at the local Fleet Feet, who were very active in this race. Pickup was scheduled for the day before the race but alternate arrangements could be made. We stayed at a Fairfield Inn a few blocks away from the Start. The start and finish were held at the Hamilton Expo Center in West Monroe. But first… dinner!

Overall, the course was enjoyable. It was pretty much a three section race thru neighborhoods in West Monroe, across a bridge into Downtown Monroe, and then a return across the bridge and through an industrial area back to the finish.Herons on the Bayou, an art project of Ouachita Parish, along the Ouachita River and various locations in West Monroe and Monroe.

The intersections throughout were well manned. Aid stations were about every two miles. One of them was manned by Key Club students from West Monroe High School dressed in crazy costumes. Bullie really liked the “Fart” sign! One of the students and I had a “Big Gut” face off. These young people were super enthusiastic with all the runners and were having a great time!

Another one had elementary kids that would tell you a joke as they gave you the water. “What do you call a fish without an eye? “FSH” ( get it?? No “i”) Then there was an “adult” stop with Mimosas and Jello Shots.

From miles 5 to 7, we ran along the river (which you could not see because of the flood wall.) However, the concrete barrier was painted with Childrens Art. Very cool!We ran through a part of downtown West Monroe that had been renovated with cute and unique shops and restaurants.

At this point we crossed the River on a drawbridge that was grated on a portion of it. It is always weird to look down and see water. On the Monroe side, we were still in a downtown section with more Heron statues. It was a mile and a half loop around the office section and back across the bridge. The full marathon splits around mile 7 and continues in Monroe back along the River and thru some more residential areas and downtown. It is about a 10 mile run before rejoining the Half marathon course to the finish.

The final part of the race was through an industrial area where the traffic was a bit busier but the police did a great job of traffic control.A unique feature were bikes traveling on the course with water and fruit. I saw one though there could have been more. Nice touch. There was also about five policeman on bicycles that ran the course. They hung together and I think they were having more fun than the runners! Everyone had fun and we met some awesome people!

At the finish there were volunteers waiting to give you a nice medal in the shape of the state of Louisiana. A number of people were hanging around enjoying the pizza, jambalaya and beer. For recovery, they had water, bananas, and such available. Of course, beer at the finish is the highlight of Bullie’s day… mine too for that matter!

Race Director, Amy Keifenheim, and her team of volunteers did a great job for this three year old event! If you are looking for a smaller hometown feeling event, this one fits the bill! I would definitely recommend it!


New Hampshire, She was a beauty!

State #40 Half #202

October 1, 2021

Bullie the Cowbell said she was a beautiful with nice curves and eye candy from one end to the other! She was the New Hampshire Marathon and Half Marathon. Bristol New Hampshire is a beautiful small New England town with all the charm that is accented with the turning of the leaves. And Bullie and I were ready to enjoy nature and watch Jennifer tackle Half #202!

This is a point to point race with everyone meeting at a local school in town. Unable do get there in time for packet pick up on Friday, the race people had the packets available race day. Smooth and easy, it was well organized and everyone was so friendly! Then, by 8:00am the runners were on buses for a 13 mile trip to Sculptures Rocks north of town. Bullie and I jumped in the car and followed the last bus.

The course was an open road course that made its way back to town along country roads and a gorgeous stretch by a lake. Home old and new, generational, in family for years, set against mountains with the beginning of fall leave changes and beautiful views of Lake Newfound ( pronounced new – found) The half went on one side of the lake while the Marathon, starting in town went all the way around the lake. It did have a lot of rolling hills but they were not as bad as others Jennifer have run.

Water stations were well manned and one one had fruit and snacks. The people of Bristol are some of the most friendliest we have seen on a race course. Who smiles at an early race day packet pick up? They do! People on the front porches of house waving and cheering, a Boy Scout troop have a shouting competition as to who can say WATER the loudest.

After party had a musician playing and announcing winners. The Finish offered drinks, milk, fruits, cookies and an assortment of other snacks. Feeling a bit sore. Free massage! Bullie even met a few of his smaller relatives!!

One business in town offering free beer with bid and ID while another business offering free lunch with bid… Chinese restaurant with some of the best food I have had! Not a Buffett, a real plate of food!! That was our after race meal with Candice and Pam Provencher. As a side note… Pam drove an hour just to be at mile 10 and the finish with a cool sign and to support Candice!!

Even though the race was small, there were runners from 35 states there! It would surprise me if a third or more were from out of state… as far as CA, CO, TX and, of course, MS! Some of those from out of down that came as a group let me take their picture under Love All The Clubs banner!

One negative that Jennifer experienced and heard from others, the open road was an issue in places, especially around the lake. We did have a number of drivers who were definitely not be a cautious with their speed as one would like. Perhaps more police presence would have help on that part of the course. They did a great job with the volunteers how were in charge of traffic and the police did a great job where they were located… I think everyone in blue that Bullie and I saw cheered the runners on!

If you enjoy small town races that are a picturesque example of New England and its natural beauty, this is the race for you. Now… time for some random pictures!!


Remembering Luz – Mainly Marathon’s Loony Legend

Sunday April 11, 2021

Mainly Marathons has been around for quite a while. Yet of the 178 Halfs my wife has done, not one was a Mainly Marathon. There was not any one particular reason, just never the right opportunity! That ended today!

So why now? Luzviminda Villamil… Luz was a dear friend who passed away recently. A lot of you know who I am talking about. For those who don’t, she was a Legend… a Looney Legend, an official designation by Mainly Marathons for reaching a certain status. Luz was also a Half Fanatics Hall of Famer and held many other titles with 50 State Half Marathon Club and 100 Half Marathon! And while her accomplishments were impressive, it was her spirit that made her special. Always one to encourage everyone else, whether they were a first timer or an old timer, Luz was a giver who touched you and made you feel special.

First, I want to back up a bit to March 6 in Biloxi MS. Luz’s husband, David Hoyt, lost his brother to Covid-19. Daniel lived on the MS Gulf Coast and David and Luz had come to Mississippi to make the arrangements and settle the estate. A local running group, Gulf Coast Running Club, already had a 5K planned, and since Daniel (David’s brother) had been an active member and officer in the group, they decided to make it a memorial run also, honoring Daniel by adding a memorial message to the back of the shirts.

Jennifer, Bullie and I thought it would be a great idea to represent the national clubs David and Luz belonged to by making a quick trip down to the coast from our home in Brandon MS. Jennifer, David and Luz walked the 5K while Bullie and I offered our support! Luz was glad we came down because we were actually the only runners they really knew, though all the people there surrounded them with love and support. Jennifer and Luz came in 1t and 2nd in their age group and David came in 3rd overall in the walker category. Bullie and I won the overall Best Spectator Award, which isn’t a real thing but should be!

It was a great time of fellowship for the three of them on the course and we later joined them and some GCRC members for lunch. Bullie and Luz had a great time sharing laughs and a drink!

6 days later, we got the sad news that Luz had passed away at a rest area in Arizona on their trip back to their home in California! That 5K would be the last race for Luz! Jenifer would be the last fellow national club member to run with her. It was just too hard to believe!

Today, Mainly Marathons honored her with a memorial service and run! It was why we decided to make this our first foray into the Mainly world!

Sunday was the first day of the Riverboat series in Winnsboro LA. But before the running started there was a short but moving memorial service for Luz. Daniel Rueckert who owns and runs Mainly Marathon with his brother Jesse, opened it up with some fine words about Luz and what she meant to Mainly Marathons as well as all the racers that ever came in contact with her. Dee Dee Urquhart read a short memorial with a touching personal message at the end. Then everyone joined in a candle lighting next to the Mainly Marathon trailer right under Luz’s caricature.

The first lap was a time to reflect on her memory, many running with the cellphones displaying a candle on the screen.

Before the race, a deputy sheriff stopped by and talked to Daniel. I assumed he was just checking to see if everything was in order. However, a few hours later, the Sheriff came in with his lights and siren with another unmarked car behind him. Oh no… did Mainly Marathons not acquire the proper permits? Someone complain? And why did a car pull in with him? But it wasn’t a raid, or the mayor stopping by… it was David Hoyt, Luz’s husband making a surprise visit!

David Hoyt had watched the Memorial service from a hotel room in Jackson MS and not from home in California. Then he drove a rental over to Winnsboro to make a surprise visit. Only one person knew about it and she didn’t say a word! Everyone was ecstatic to see him!

I will have more to say and will breakdown the three races we attended following shortly! This is just a nod to our friend, Luz who has wings on her sneakers and is entertaining the angels!

Until later….

Jennifer, Bullie and me!


Who Wants to be a Viking

Saturday – March 20, 2021

Saturday, March 20 was a nippy day for running in the Viking Half Marathon in Greenwood MS! 

Jennifer and I love Greenwood’s small town charm and especially the flat course. Greenwood is the home of the Viking Corp, known for its top line stoves and ranges  and cookware.

It is a small race around 150 Half Marathoners and they also had a 5K. The swag bag was loaded with local goodies from businesses in the city! I think Jennifer needed a wheelbarrow! Fannie Pack, Coozies, drink cup, note pad, tissues, Runner’s light for the shoes, hot pad and a nice canvas bag.

The course took in many sites of the old beautiful southern town. Starting downtown, you run past the courthouse and past the old train depot. It certainly was a dark dark morning before the start, especially if you had to pick up your packet on race day! Luckily it lightened up as we got closer to start time!

It was great to see friends like Dale Clark from Mississippi and Teal Clark from Arkansas. Though not related I still claim one as a little brother and the other as my cousin! It was also a pleasure to see 70+ year old Bonnie from Mississippi and Carol Earles also from Arkansas. The surprise was running into an old friend’s son, Tommy Bennett who now is in the Memphis area.

You run along side the Yazoo River and then across a older steel style bridge. In addition to the Yazoo River, you also ran along side the Talahatchie River. Same river that Billie Joe McAlister jumped in but wrong bridge. That bridge is 10 north!

The course took us through a lot of nice residential areas that include homes large and small, old southern homes to new homes with a modern look. Overall, old or new, Greenwood has been able to retain the southern small town charm over the years.

Water stations were well manned with friendly volunteers who were well organized by Start 2 Finish, an event group out of Memphis, TN.

City of Greenwood Police were some of the friendliest law enforcement people we have ever met. While much of the course was open to traffic, the police did their job expertly and the local drivers maneuver  with respect towards the runners! Everyone enjoyed the race and the atmosphere. From 1st time Halfers to the most experienced, Greenwood got high marks as a race and town!

We always meet interesting people. David and Shelia from Hernando ran a good part of the final leg with Jennifer. Both are the life of the party. Shelia has been running for a while and has convinced David to run more Half Marathons with her. In Greenwood he had a PR! I am sure we will be welcoming both into Half Fanatics… they fit the mold perfectly (Jennifer is the Half Fanatic/Marathon Maniac Ambassador for MS, LA, AL)

After the race, runners were treated to fried catfish with all the southern fixins, chicken wraps and topped off with Truly and Michelob Ultra beer. And as you may know…Bullie and I are just here to drink the beer!!

This has become one of our favorite Mississippi races. Jennifer, Bullie and I will be back again! Join us??


Tuscaloosa Half – Roll Tide!

Saturday – March 27, 2021

Saturday, March 26, we were in Tuscaloosa AL for the Tuscaloosa Half Marathon! Tuscaloosa is the home of the University of Alabama, The Crimson Tide. Bullie was a bit apprehensive about making a scene in Roll Tide country. I reminded him on Race Day, we are all brothers and sisters. Plus, saying Roll Tide when a group of runners wearing Alabama shirts came by would decrease the chance of us being chased out of town!

Jennifer and I drove over Friday evening after I got of work. And it was straight to bed for an early morning rise. The race started  at 7:00 and Jennifer still needed to pick up my packet race morning. Start line was downtown at Government Plaza, a park area with lots of room and an old southern style Gazebo.  After some club pictures it was time to run! 

As a University town, everything is about the school including the course. First, however, Bullie and I headed down Jack Warner Parkway to meet the runners. The Parkway runs along side the Black Warrior River. This part was fairly flat except for one “nice size” hill. Most of the hills on the course were in the first 6 miles. 

Soon everyone was running through the edge of the Alabama campus. University Drive had Fraternities and Sororities on one side and large old homes on the other. The route took us pass the Bryant-Denny football stadium, the old University Presidents Mansion and the Denny Chimes, a tall bell tower.

We were soon on our way back to the downtown section. The course went through “The Strip”, an area near the campus with a lot of neat and recently restored bars and restaurants. After the Strip, runners entered the final leg which included another section of the campus, a  beautiful historic residential area and back to the Government Plaza for the finish.

Police presence and traffic control was good, with the officers cheering the runners on as they passed. Aid stations were every couple of miles, complete with water and Powerade. Volunteers were awesome and there was a good turnout of spectators cheering too. A good Covid plan had been implemented for the race.

What is always a pleasure when going to races with Jennifer is that Bullie Bell and I get to meet some really awesome people! Such was the case in meeting Rachel and Melei with Ainsley’s Angels. Ainsley’s Angels is an organization whose mission is to build awareness about America’s Special Needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life! Just one of those aspects is ensuring that everyone can experience endurance events, such as Half Marathons!

Rachel, an Angel Rider, is a vivacious young 9 year old with a smile that makes you smile just as big! Her companion for the race was Melei Renicks, a first time Angel Runner. A runner in her own right, she had always wanted to participate in Ainsley’s Angels. A bucket list item, as she puts it. Family met them all along the route, some even helping when the hills came! Running for Rachel was a special treat because Rachel never meets a stranger and everyone who meets her is a friend immediately! Melei, an awesome bubbling personality in her own right remarked that she would never forget that day and running for Rachel. Melei and Rachel were a perfect match! Bullie and I will never forget both of them as well!!

Bullie and I have seen a lot of crazy things and a lot of dogs. Tuscaloosa was no different! Meet the Puppet Runner aka Dr. R Andrew Strickland. A theater director and educator, he is also an avid runner for over 20 years. He began running with his puppet Remy in 2019. He was amazed at the smiles and words of appreciation he would get as Remy waved at other runners and spectators along the course. The rest is Puppet Runner History! Remy and Bullie hit it off and Remy is now a member of the Cowbell Brigade!

If you ran the race in the past, like Jennifer did in 2018, the course was a good bit different this time. But it was still a fun race to do if you enjoy college towns and campuses. Being the SEC (Southeastern Conference) geek that we are, we both really enjoyed it.


Nothing Sweeter than Sweetwater TN

Sunday – March 28, 2021

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When you head out of town for one race on a weekend, it is a waste not to look for another on the weekend. And, we found a pleasant surprise in the foothills of Tennessee… Sweetwater!

After Jennifer had nice run in Tuscaloosa, we got on the road and headed to Sweetwater for the Inaugural Sweetwater Valley Marathon, Half Marathon and Relays. The race was organized by the Knoxville Track Club, headed by its director, David Black.  Apparently, Knoxville as a city has been rather tight with the Covid-19 restrictions and and planned races had been either cancelled, postponed or denied a permit. 

Then came the town of Sweetwater, just south of Knoxville. “Sure… come on down and take your shoes off… set a spell… then put on your running shoes. Be glad to have you!” The town was very supportive using it police force and City road crews for managing intersections… even the fire department was helping out! Some downtown shops near the Town Gazebo and Train Depot opened up their stores early for the participants! The whole town was very welcoming! 

We stopped at the Gazebo in the afternoon so that we could drive the course. The Gazebo is where the race start line would be. We saw a truck with race stuff on it and a few people working around it. We stopped to ask a few questions.  That is how we met the Race Director, David. He was excited to hear about Jennifer’s adventures, answered our questions then asked us to join him and some other at the Italian place across the street for dinner. Of course we accepted!! Bullie loves Itialian and a cold draft beer.

After driving the course and realizing it was a bit hillier than Jennifer thought, we headed to the restaurant, Vittorino’s Cucina. Hills means you have to carb up… or drink enough so that you forget the hills! We joined David and some of his staff from Knoxville along with a gentleman from NC and a very enjoyable trio of runners from Illinois. Bullie always has to flirt with the ladies!

It was a great time sharing stories and getting to know some new friends!  We both left very impressed with Knoxville Track Club!! This would be a good race! 

We woke up Sunday morning to lightning and thunder and thought for sure the race wasn’t going to happen! The 7:30 start was delayed until 8:00. Before 7:30, the storm system, the same one that hit Nashville the day before,  had moved through and the rain lightened up. We were all set to go!

At the start, the race weaved through downtown before heading out High Street to the High School where it circled the campus. The students had made signs with each participant’s name and where they were from!! They hung them on a fence that the runners would pass by! That was pretty awesome, though the rain had helped some to fall off but I have never seen that kind of town support!!

Then it was back to the highway and into our first neighborhood that included some nice homes and an exit on a greenway back to the highway! The rest of the race would be made up of neighborhoods and pretty countryside! Many of the roads were closed to traffic and those that were not were well managed by law enforcement and volunteers! 

A final trip through a recreational area and elementary school would soon have us on the final stretch. Of note, the students at the elementary school had made motivation signs to display. Really cool! The it was back downtown and the finish line at the Historic Train Depot! 

As a band was playing in the nearby Gazebo, pizza and a variety of snacks awaited us with a nice unique medal. It was a banjo!! Jennifer will hang it next to my Mississippi Blues guitar medal and think of the Dueling Banjos song every time I see it!! Bullie says, “what about dueling cowbells???”

KTC (Knoxville Track Club) did an exceptional job with this inaugural race. Knoxville runners apparently love KTC with passion. They support their races because they know they will get a good product.  Honestly, most of the racers where from the Knoxville area, starving for a live race But runners from Sweetwater and towns nearby turned out as well, along with some foreigners from other states!!

As Jennifer mentioned before, the course was not flat. It was possibly normal for the Knoxville and Sweetwater folks but not these Mississippi folks. Will that prevent us from coming back. Absolutely not!  It was a very good race! If Jennifer does it again, I will be asking everyone to consider this small town treasure next year!!


From Starkville to Gulf Shores: Part 1

img_0722So, as soon as you see a Part 1, if you guess that Jennifer is doing another Back 2 Back weekend, then you have guessed correctly. January  25 and 26 saw us traveling to Starkville MS for the Chick-Fil-A Starkville Frostbite Marathon and Half Marathon on Saturday followed by a trip to Gulf Shores for Big Beach Marathon and Half Marathon.  Road trip!!


First stop is Frostbite. Normally, I would say this race lives up to its name, being in the middle of January and all. But, this year the weather cooperated somewhat!  Not nearly as cold but nippy just the same. Starkville is the Home of Mississippi State University and the birthplace home of Bullie the Cowbell.

So, Bullie was really excited about visiting! He even got a chance to see a bunch of his brethren, young Cowbells being given a forever home as awards for finishers who placed in age groups and overall categories.  And I was in Cowbell Heaven!

If you are in Starkville you better like the colors of Maroon and White as well.  State fans are everywhere! A quick stop by Bully Cafe and we were good to go!

Jennifer was bundled up and ready to go. The course started in Downtown Starkville and made its way through a neighborhood and onto the campus of MSU. After winding through the campus there was an out and back into the country then back to downtown and the finish. 

Overall the course had good aid support and some decent crowd support. On campus, there were a group of young people from PineLake Baptist Church cheering like there was no tomorrow. It was actually a Discipleship Now weekend for these high school teenagers! The cheering was part of their service commitment for the weekend. They learned the joy of sharing and encouraging other, something every runner needs!

img_0787At the finish, each Half Marathoner was treated to some hot soup at the Souper Bowl, a event in conjunction with Frost Bite. Served hot,  you could chase away the winter chills with a taste-off of delicious soups from local restaurants! Local eateries presented their best and most innovative soup recipes as ticket-holders voted on which concoctions deserved to be among the hottest in Starkville! Paige Watson, organizer of the Souper Bowl, told me it was a fundraiser for the Starkville Main Street Association. The association assist in beautification efforts and the promotion of downtown events and more. 

Besides soup, they had beer! And, while strolling around the finish line, you see a few cute dogs… and then… a bulldog! While not the real Bully, a bulldog is a bulldog and we had to have a picture of course!! Had a great time meeting Karen Mullis and Clarence Cooper, both on the course and at the finish. These are the kind of people that you find at half marathon events.  Just having fun… and lots of it. The kind of people you want to hang with! And then there is MS Bonniee! She is a 73 year old runner who we have seen at a number of races across Mississippi and beyond. She is an inspiration!

Having a daughter who graduated State, Bullie, Jennifer and I decided a few pictures on the way out of town was just what we needed before heading south to Gulf Shores, AL for tomorrow’s Big Beach Half Marathon!




Beach, Breweries and Belles: Part 2

img_3030Mobile, Alabama… if you want to see the Deep South, Mobile is the city. Hanging moss draped over big oak trees, homes dating back to the 1800s. Then there are the Museums, Mobile Carnival Museum, Mobile Museum of Arts and the 1850 Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception with intricate German stained glass windows. More Modern day attractions exist… the USS Alabama, a WWII Battleship decorated for its performance in the Pacific, and the Mobile Botanical Gardens.


Mobile’s Ambassadors

To welcome the runners to Mobile, The Mobile Azalea Trail Maids were present in Southern Belle beauty. These high school ladies do a number of events throughout Mobile as hospitality representatives. Each girl had grace and presence as they greeted each of us with a welcoming smile. Never one to turn down an opportunity to be surrounded by Southern Charm… they were glad to pose for a picture, as they did for many many others! The Maids number about 50 and are ambassadors for the city at a wide range of venues and events. At the Mobile Marathon, we got to see 10 to 12 of these High School seniors, both at the start line and the finish line.  Check out the organization at

We got into Mobile Saturday afternoon and had time for a little touring. For Bullie and myself that usually means finding a local Brewery and we found two! And, it isn’t a party unless Jennifer is there!

First stop was Serda Brewing Co, which we just happened upon and thought this was as good of a place as any to start. They had a good variety and of course, Jennifer and I got a flight each of 4 oz beers to sample. Jennifer likes the stouts and porters while I tend to lean toward IPAs.  Bullie struck up a conversation with a tall slender local beauty with a long neck. Love at first sight! However, the Bartender, acting  in a fatherly manner, frowned upon Bullie’s flirtatious antics.  It was time to leave!!

A quick Google search had us heading down the street for Iron Hand Brewing. Again, being img_0354true to the cause… we had a flight of beer each, all different selections. All were delicious!  But the most delicious thing there was the Cheese Bread.  I am telling you, I have never had Cheese Bread this good. The Owner/Brewmaster/Chef is very talented. All the food on the menu is prepared by him. House made bread drowned in butter, olive oil and garlic, topped with fennel, herbs, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese! The party was on! Bullie had a beer with a Raven and the raven said to Bullie, Nevermore! A pirate, evidently a MS State fan in days past, had to ring the bell!



img_3018How do you end a perfect Saturday? Dinner at Wintzell’s and a celebration of a good run in Pensacola and the promise of a better run Sunday in Mobile.

img_0426We headed to Malaga Inn, a quaint old hotel in the middle of town, within walking distance of the start line. This was the same hotel where Jennifer and I stayed on our way to Disney World 41 years ago… our honeymoon!


Early to rise, we headed to the start line. Pictures with the 50 State Half Marathon Club and the Belles, seeing old friends with the Half Fanatics and seeing my two newest friends from Arkansas. Carol Earles and Teal Clark. Not sure now who is stalking who! The race started with a bang… a cannon manned by the MCHD Cannon team lead by Dr. Bernard H Eichold II! Mobile County Health Department…  yep… only in the South! These guys were great!

Bullie wanted to fire the cannon but a picture was all he could get… Bullie wasn’t certified and these guys are serious! The Lyle Line-Throwing Cannon, which has a 2.5-inch-diameter barrel, was manufactured in the early 1900s by Coston. It is not a replica, reproduction or toy. The cannon was designed to fire a projectile attached to a rope to a boat or a victim in distress. Now it used to inspire those seeking a healthier lifestyle.

All along the course, there was great crowd support, beautiful scenery, music and great aid stations (both kinds!! If you know what I mean!) Bullie got to DJ some at Mile 8, encouraging on the runners! Jennifer’s partners in crime, the Mississippi Fem Fatales, Jennifer Sloan Ziegler and Pam Slay Pitts displayed the medals… hand painted wooden finisher awards made by some very special people at L’Arche Mobile.  They are the charity that the Mobile Marathon raises money for. L’Arche discovers and makes known the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities, revealed through mutually transforming relationship. The medals are an expression of their talents.

The end of the race everyone was greeted once again by the Azalea Trail Maids. So, off to get a beer, because after all, I am “Just Here for the Beer” Before I knew it, Bullie was in love once again! This time he met a real Mississippi State University cheerleader!!! Go Dawgs!

Had a delicious meal at the Ruby Slipper and then headed back to the car, passing some interesting windows! No comments!!


Another wonderful weekend! Coming up, a profile of two people,  Kathleen and Joey Willis,  involving young single girls to have a better life with the center piece being healthy through running,  Girls On The Run. Stay tune!!





Beach, Breweries and Belles: Part 1

Friday, January 10, it was time for me to pack it up and hit the road again! This time, I was riding with our good friend, Jennifer Sloan Ziegler. Ahead? A weekend of fun in Pensacola and Mobile!

Pam Slay Pitts and Jennifer Sloan Ziegler at Flounders Restaurant

My Jennifer was out of town but would be heading to Pensacola from the East. Jennifer Z picked me up from work in Jackson and we headed to Lucedale MS to join up with Pam Slay Pitts. Yep, it was the Mississippi Mob planning our invasion of Florida and Alabama, two states that would never be the same after our visit! Jennifer C would complete our quartet.

We arrived in Pensacola just in time for dinner at the Flounder Restaurant in Pensacola Beach. After some relaxing beverages, Seafood Nachos piled high with shrimp, cheese, tomatoes, jalapenos and God only knows what else,  we finished off dinner with the “Biggest on the Beach Steak Burgers”. Next stop? The hotel and a good night’s sleep is the plan before the Half in the morning. My Jennifer arrived shortly after I checked into our room. Turn off the lights and call it a night!

This was a weekend for severe storms. We didn’t know until 12 noon Friday if the race would be cancelled or not. They decided to move the race up to 7:00 am and hopefully be finished before the rain came!

At 6:00 a.m., the first people I saw were two runners from Arkansas that we met in Allen TX at the New Year Double:  Carol Earles and Teal Clark! Temperatures were in the mid 50s, windy and a bit hazy as the photos will show!



img_0286img_0287img_0283The Half was an out and back with a short diversion into a beachfront neighborhood. It followed J. Earle Bowden Way most of the course with a slight diversion into a beachfront neighborhood. Aid stations were plentiful and well staffed. They also had “cheering groups” of students who’s sole purpose was to help point you in the right direction and cheer you on!

img_2994If you like the beach, it was a nice peaceful run sprinkled with “good job” and “doing great” as runners passed each other on this scenic route. Because the winds from the approaching storm were a steady 15 mph with gusts, you could hear and see the breaking of the waves! The surprise on this cool windy day was the humidity, making things very muggy as the race continued.

Bullie was in rare form! At first he wanted to hit the beach for a little surfing but after reading the warnings and seeing it for himself… he decided to just hide in the bushes and try to scare runners! At the aid station located at Mile 5/8 (coming and going), Bullie met a nice girl and I decided a little Fireball and Gatorade were appropriate to knock off the chill! She had a great time with Bullie. He is such a flirt!


Along the way and after the race, we got to see Donna McKendree and also Mike Flynn (50 Stater and Half Fanatic). The After Party was a time to let your hair down and have some fun.  We enjoyed some pizza and beverages. Jennifer showed off her medal, and Bullie got the give some advice to the band… “what you need is some more cowbell!” Soon it was time to hit the road and head to Mobile!  Part 2… to be continued!




Running in the New Year, Allen TX

2019/2020 Medals and plate

Our first travel of the new year combined with the last Half Marathon of 2019 was the New Year Double in Allen TX. It is sometimes called the Double Double because it offers a 5K and either a Half Marathon or a Full on December 31st and January 1st. That is a total of 4 races, four medals, two shirts and a plate that the medals attach to! Awesome bling!!

The 5K on NYE was a 7:00 a.m. start. Since we arrived Monday night late, we had to do packet pick up on Race Day… which meant getting up at Zero Dark 30 and arriving at Celebration Park before the roosters were even up!! Amazingly, there were a number of other people doing the very same thing. They had all the bins set up with packets and bibs. And, the volunteers all had smiles on!!! At 6:15am!! Bullie the Cowbell… in the car… still asleep!

The Announcer, Lyn Couch, had a smile in his voice welcoming all the early risers. Lyn had one of those old true Radio voices. Being a former DJ from the ’70s myself, we really enjoyed talking about some old times!

Once the 5K was done, everyone had a 40 to 60 minute rest period before the longer races started at 8:40. Most people who ran the 3.1 miler headed to the car to warm up a bit. While not as cold as last year, even an early morning race in the 40s was nippy enough! Bullie did come out of the car and we rang the start and finish!

The Half Marathon is a double loop course that runs through Celebration Park then enters a street tunnel and onto a cement trail for an out and back. Aid Stations were well manned with fun people who took passing out water and Gatorade to a whole new level!

Then there was a rumor that a Rogue Aid Station was serving donuts and Fireball! I have acquired visual proof that such a station existed as well as eye witness accounts from runners coming by with smiles on their faces!

There was also a rumor, that I will neither confirm nor deny, that Bullie and I had our own Flask tucked away!

The second day was a repeat of the first day with a good number of runners returning. This gave the two days a Mainly Marathon or a Bear Lake Trifecta feel in that you begin to recognize your fellow runners, offering smiles and encouragement along the loops!

I also met some very interesting people that I will soon profile in another post:

Dave And Ellis, both cancer survivors and fighters who formed a company called Gryt Health. Check it out at at Also, Trace… who saw runners in her neighborhood last year, looked it up and here she is! I am the Cowbell Guy but I met the Barefoot Guy! All their stories next post!

Okay, I can’t end this without mentioning what we did post race. Jennifer and I love finding a local place or brewery with local craft beer. We hit the Mother-lode!! Brass Tap Craft Beer Bar popped up on my Google search and we instantly knew it was the place to visit. 80 beers on tap… 200 + in bottles! A lot of local/Texas beers on tap as well. What do you do with that many choices? You do flights. Bullie especially enjoyed himself, striking up a flirty conversation with the Bartender! We liked it so much Tuesday after the race that we returned Wednesday before leaving for Mississippi and home, sweet home!