Sue, Jim & Cody on the 14,433' summit of MT Elbert, CO - The highest peak in the Rocky Mountains


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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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PREP #1:  THE DREAM                  January 1, 2005
"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream,
not only plan, but also believe." - Anatole France 

AT geological survey marker

Hooray!!  I've been waiting for this year to finally start! 

I hope to accomplish a goal that I have had for thirty-six years: to run/walk the entire Appalachian Trail (AT) from Georgia to Maine, a distance of 2,175 miles through fourteen states.

Oh, by the way - the Trail primarily follows the RIDGES of the spiny mountain chain that dominates the Eastern United States, not the valleys.

We wouldn't want it to be too easy, now would we?

When I was twenty, one of my classmates at Ohio State University took off two quarters to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. "Groovy," I thought (that was way before "cool" was cool). I loved to hike, so "some day" hiking the whole AT became a dream of mine.

 It was one of many exciting goals and activities that I had on my list of "Things to Do Before I'm Thirty."  Did you have one of those lists??  <groan>  I'm still working on mine, and I'm pushing age fifty-six now! 

Ah, the optimism and bravado of youth. Thank goodness I still crave challenges and adventure. I'm still young in my mind and heart.

I began running trails and roads in the Atlanta/North Georgia area when I was thirty. The dream soon morphed into RUNNING the entire AT, not hiking it with a backpack as most thru-hikers do.

I didn't know anyone who actually DID this until David Horton set a speed record (52+ days) running the Trail in 1991, a record that stood for eight years until Pete Palmer improved on his time (48+ days). I still don't know of very many people who have RUN the whole thing, and maybe no one who's done it exactly like I plan. Regis Shivers' completion in 87+ days in 2003 with his wife's crewing assistance is probably the closest to my MO (modus operandi).

Since hiking the whole AT at one shot takes the average back-packer six or seven months, most thru-hikers fall into two categories:  those who are young and haven't begun their careers yet, and those who finally have the time when they're AARP-certified and retired.

I fall into the latter category. I had to start working right after graduating from college. There were no breaks in my career long enough to do the whole trail, and I wasn't interested in doing it in sections.

Consequently, I've had to wait thirty-six loooong years to fulfill this dream. Now my husband Jim (my indispensable crew person) and I are finally both retired. I have the time and the motivation.

"Some day" is now less than four months away!!  I am MORE than psyched about our adventure run.

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil