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 #23:  A FINE SEND-OFF         April 20

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his greater surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” - Henry Ford


Bpn voyage! Left to right: Graham Zollman (yellow shirt), Dru Sexton, Jay (gray plaid) and Anita Finkle (white shirt), Neal Jamison (standing on right). Jim and Sue seated in front.  Photo above by Suzanne Jamison.

< Useful gifts for the Intrepid Trail Trekker.

I love friends with a good sense of humor. Neal Jamison is one such friend.

Neal is one of several ultra runners from Roanoke who responded enthusiastically last year to our request on the internet ultra list for information about living and running in this area. They wrote volumes about why they love living here.

The folks you see in this photo (and some others who weren't present that evening) are one of the reasons Jim and I decided to move here.

Not only does the area have most of the natural, cultural, historical, and economic amenities we were seeking in a retirement haven, but it also boasts some of the nicest, most generous people that we’ve ever met in our travels across the country.

Since our core group of four couples hadn’t dined together for several months, Neal and his gracious wife Suzanne decided it would be fitting to have a send-off party before Jim and I started our long odyssey northward. Finding one date to suit eight busy people is never an easy thing to do, but a date, location, and theme were finally chosen:  last night, at the Jamison’s house, with pizza delivered to the door and Suzanne’s yummy home-prepared salad and desserts.


Jim and I were the first to arrive. As we were talking with Suzanne in the kitchen, we immediately ruined two of the Jamison’s surprises.

First, as Suzanne was taking some hot baked goods from the oven I innocently asked if they were muffins or cupcakes. Turns out they were “my” harvest muffins (see Prep17). Suzanne wanted to surprise us with warm muffins and brownies a la mode for dessert.


Shortly thereafter, Jim zeroed in on Neal’s brand new book, “The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of My Feet,” which was lying on the counter right under his nose. Flipping through the book, he joked, “Is this for us?”

Turns out, it was!  Double oops.

But the Jamisons are cool and took it all in stride. In fact, they got us back later when they presented us with a going-away package designed for an Intrepid Trail Trekker. That part really was a surprise.

After dessert, Neal ceremoniously brought to the table two yellow plastic draw-string bags from races that bore items that will surely be needed along the way:

* A roll of duct tape, about all any self-respecting ultra runner needs to fix anything

* A large tube of ultra-strength muscle rub to soothe my aching legs

* Two 500-ml soft containers of fine chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, an even more pleasant way to soothe those aching muscles (or make me not much care about them!)

* All the ingredients to make my favorite pumpkin soup TWICE (sweet potatoes, pumpkin, chicken broth, and peanut butter (also described in Prep17)

* And a bottle of Geritol.

Wait – isn’t that for OLD people???

Thanks, Neal. I like your sense of humor.

And thanks to Dru for a large gift bag full of little packets of M&M’s. Dru is a woman after my own heart who knows chocolate is surely one of the basic food groups!

(You can find Neal's new book at along with his first book, "Running Through the Wall - Personal Encounters With the Ultramarathon.")

Happy trails,

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

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© 2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil