Sweetwater Creek State Park, Georgia


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"As you run circles around Lake Mayer . . . one thing that stands out are the incredible    
dragonflies that inhabit the lake. Dragonflies symbolize change, new beginnings,
transformation, adaptability, self-realization, and hope."
~ from the UltraSignup page for the 2022 Bronze Dragonfly races

This year Jim participated in five fixed-time running/walking events in Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. Three were new to him and two he has done several times previously.

The earlier, shorter races in spring and summer were essentially training runs to help build up his mileage to be able to complete at least 100 miles at A Race for the Ages (ARFTA) in early September and however many miles he could muster a few weeks later at Endless Mile.

Lake Mayer Community Park in Savannah, site of the Bronze Dragonfly races (4-30-22)

I'll summarize each race below, with photos Jim (mostly) took.

As with last year's races, he did these by himself without me crewing for him. He really doesn't need my help in this type of event and it's easier/less expensive for me to stay home and take care of our three Labs since we no longer have an RV.


This was Jim's first time to participate in the Bronze Dragonfly event in Savannah, managed by Run 4 a Reason, LLC. Race proceeds and donations benefited mental health services.

Options included 3-, 6-, 12-, 24-, and 30-hour races. Jim entered the 24-hour race with the goal of completing 50 miles, just walking.

Jim left Friday afternoon for the five-hour drive to Lake Mayer Park in Savannah.

The weather was good and he decided not to take his canopy w/ sides to the site. He took a sleeping bag so he could sleep/rest in his truck or outside on a chaise lounge chair. He parked under some shade trees, close to the course.

The race course was scenic and flat, winding around Lake Mayer on a 1.4-mile USATF certified loop.



Surfaces were part paved and part rubberized track, with the option to run in the dirt/grass in some places.


The 24-hour event began at 7:30am on Saturday. There were no live results so Jim called and texted me a few times with his progress. He also sent me some photos of the course.

Although Jim got one blister and developed "runner's lean" by the end of the race, he wasn't in a lot of pain and he reached his goal of 50 miles an hour before the finish of his race on Sunday morning. He was pleased with his results, considering he'd gotten up to only 19 miles in his longest training run!

The attractive 24-hour medallion is in two pieces. They are separated (above).
The picture below shows the brass dragonfly piece in place over the tree symbol.

One race down, four more to go this year!


Just two weeks after the Bronze Butterfly event, Jim headed to Chattanooga for the Locomotion 24-hour run/walk, another new race for him. His goal this time was to walk 40 miles and take rest breaks earlier to hopefully avoid the runner's lean that plagued him at the end of the previous race.

Locomotion is conducted by the Chattanooga Track Club at the Camp Jordan Recreation Area in East Ridge, Tennessee. It's just over the GA-TN state line in southeastern metro Chattanooga, close to the I-75/I-24 freeway interchange:

This event was organized for runners/walkers on a flat, mostly paved, two-mile USATF-certified loop course with options to go for 6, 12, or 24 hours.



There were full concessions for the 24-hour participants and both tent and RV parking with hookups available for a relatively small fee.

Jim drove up on Friday afternoon and arrived in just a couple hours. He set up his chaise lounge and cooler next to the course and by his ultra running friend Doyle Carpenter, who is sitting in the foreground in the next photo. Jim's chair and chaise lounge are on the right and his truck is in the background:

Jim's view toward the course as he takes a break:

Jim didn't take his canopy and sides to this race either, preferring to hunker down in his truck if the weather was too cold or wet to sleep out in the open.

It turned out that the temperatures were OK but at least three thunderstorms rolled through during the race on Saturday afternoon and evening, so he did have to seek refuge in his truck several times!

Incoming about 5:45pm

The sky is not looking so good!

Radar just before the first storm hit (Jim's location is at the blue dot)

The weather cleared after a little while and there was a beautiful rainbow as participants resumed running/walking:

Two more t-storms rolled through during the night.

Despite the rain breaks, Jim reached his goal of 40 miles before his time was up. He was able to fix a blister so it didn't bother him and he didn't get the dreaded runner's lean this time, probably because he started taking rest breaks earlier.

Mission BBQ was on hand. This company generously donates millions of dollars every year
to first responder and military veterans organizations, including Warrior Canine Connection.

Jim liked the Locomotion event more than Bronze Butterfly. The two-mile loop was better mentally than a shorter loop, he knew more people at this race, there was more substantial food at the aid station, and it was only a two-hour drive from home. The downside was having to drive through or around Atlanta both directions (we hate driving in metro Atlanta!).

Jim will likely participate in Locomotion again in the future.


It was also Jim's first time to participate in an event at Camp Frank D. Merrill, an Army Ranger training camp near Dahlonega, Georgia:

Merrill's Mile is one of several races organized by the Dahlonega Ultra Marathon Association AKA "Dumass" (seriously, and humorously!). Jim has put off doing this event before because it's in the heat of summer, not the best time to compete.

Running/walking options included 6-, 12-, 24-, and 48-hour events. Jim entered the 48-hour event with hopes of walking about 75 miles.

Sign above two old-fashioned pay phones
at Camp Merrill; guess the Rangers can't
have cell phones with them when training?

Although the drive was less than two hours north of our home, Jim had to drive through or around Atlanta again to get there. He arrived on-site on Friday afternoon, a couple hours before runners were supposed to get there. He had no trouble getting in early since he has a military ID.

He introduced himself to the race director and helped with set-up at the start-finish area:

Race tents for timing, aid station, etc. were enclosed the night before the race began.
Logo for Dumass events is "Poor decisions make for better stories."

The RD told him about a quiet place where he could park and sleep in his truck overnight. It was near an empty, unlocked barracks with beds, showers, and restrooms.

Ah, ha! He checked it out but didn't sleep inside the building.


Blue dot is location of Jim's truck the first night; red dot is where
he set up his canopy and the truck was moved to a helicopter pad.
Notice how narrow that oval track is. It's longer than shown here.

Jim took his canopy and sides this time and set up his things inside the narrow, elongated oval course near Doyle. He decided it was too hot, muggy, and potentially noisy to sleep out there so he slept in his truck in the woods the night before the race began.

It was quieter in the woods but he didn't sleep well in his truck, either. He opened a door during the night and stuck his feet out to cool off . . . but was rudely awakened when it started raining and his feet got wet!

The next day he moved his truck to the helicopter pad where other runners parked, closer to the race course and his canopy. It was in the sun but much more convenient for him during the race.

It's a rather boring long oval loop and exposed to the sun for several hours mid-day in early July.

Doyle is sitting at Jim's canopy; you can see the
narrow oval track in the foreground and background.

Most of the Rangers who were in a recent training group had left Camp Merrill by race day but a few remained so the mess hall was still open during race weekend (for troops, not race participants).

However, Jim was invited to eat breakfast with them on race morning, which was a nice gesture. He said the food was better than what he took to eat for breakfast. The rest of the time he was there what he brought from home or what the race provided.

Breakfast in the mess hall before the race. Rank has some privileges!

The 12-foot wide asphalt elongated oval course used by the race is certified and just under a mile in length. There's an elevation gain/loss of only 10 feet per mile. Participants in each race changed directions every six hours.

The 48-hour race started on Saturday morning, July 2. Jim had completed 28 miles when he called me about 9pm that night. Later during the night he started leaning again but kept going until early Sunday morning. He stopped after reaching 41.55 miles. Doyle stopped early, too.

When Jim got home I had the pups pose with his race hat and hoodie:

L-R: Casey, Holly, and Don

Drawstring bag with ultra running club logo and motto

Jim's race number, fabric head/neck tube, and towel

After the race Jim was discouraged because he hasn't had problems with "leaning" before. He didn't know what caused it (electrolyte or muscle imbalance perhaps?) or how to prevent it, other than taking longer rest breaks during races.

It's something he researched pretty thoroughly before his next race in two months, where his goal was 100 miles or more.

Continued on the next page . . . ARFTA and Endless Mile events. Did Jim get to 100 miles?????

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Casey-Girl, Holly-Holly, & Dapper Don

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2022 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil