DAY 65 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11

THEBES TO CAIRO We woke in Cape Girardeau and made our way down to the old courthouse at Thebes to begin our run and ride to Cairo, Illinois. Our route took us down Illinois Highway 3 to the interchange at I-57. Tom and I split up the last 10K on foot, landing us at Fort Defiance—the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. As we ran, we left the fields and first entered an industrial area, running under the iconic levee underpass with the name CAIRO emblazoned on its side. We made the exchange at the Cairo Food Mart, just a few …

DAY 64 – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10

CAPE GIRARDEAU TO THEBES It was a hot day on the Relay today, but thankfully we had Zack and Jenny to commiserate and share the burden with. Out through the bottoms ran Tom and Zack, encountering the first signs of crawfish roadkill that we’ve come upon so far. At about 5 miles in, Tom was ready for his Relay partner and called me into service—and just in time, for himself, that is! As the hills were next! A series of rolling hills awaited me and Zack as we ran toward Thebes, Illinois, and our only solace was the nice breeze and …

DAY 63 – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9

WARE/ANNA TO CAPE GIRARDEAU We said goodbye to Lyle and Tammy Woodrum at the Davie School Inn and drove back to Ware IL to continue our journey along The Great River Road. It’s Monday morning, traffic is heavy (including trucks) and there’s no shoulder—we are “in the lane” on Illinois Highway 3. On the bright side, we’re seeing our first armadillos. The south can’t be far away . . . As we approached Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the towers of the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge were visible from miles away. It’s a beautiful cable-stayed bridge over the Mississippi River, but also full of high-speed traffic. …

DAY 62 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8

CHESTER TO WARE/ANNA We gathered in the kitchen with our generous hosts, Bob and Pat Koenegstein for coffee and a parting conversation. Bob was on his way to the Popeye Pedal bike ride and we were heading downriver. Heavy thunderstorms were in the forecast and we were all checking our weather apps as we talked. Thunderstorm advisory and 90% chance of rain until noon. Two fronts moving through with frequent lightning strikes. Looks like it’s tracking north . . . let’s go! It’s tracking south. Victoria mounted her bike for our 50-mile journey and dismounted about a half mile later …

DAY 61 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7

STE. GENEVIEVE TO CHESTER We said our goodbye’s to the comforts of the Hotel Audubon Ste. Genevieve this Saturday morning and Tom ran out from Main Street Park, heading south out of Ste. Genevieve. After about a 5K on foot, he mounted the bike and rode to the bike to bike exchange. I took over and had to take on a hill almost immediately, not to mention the challenge of overcoming with great mental fortitude the lack of public restrooms in the area. I rode on for several miles with a bit of a headwind until pulling over at the gas station just …

DAY 60 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6

STE. GENEVIEVE LAYOVER We slept in. Today is the last leg to reach our half way point—60 days into the 120 pilgrimage. Signs of exhaustion are becoming clear. Mornings are getting slower, nights less productive, and yet, we are still making it, and every moment in between, every moment running, riding, listening, is still being done with great commitment. We are just ready for the downhill. We spent some time in the morning typing up conversations and notes, then walked around town, exploring. We stopped in at Stella and Me Cafe for lunch, soup and a sandwich in a tiny house on …

DAY 59 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5

PRAIRIE DU ROCHER TO STE. GENEVIEVE Another amazing breakfast compliments of Susie at The Conner House Bed and Breakfast. This time an egg and sausage quiche of a sorts along with fresh fruit of course and a French toast casserole, plus, plus, plus! Full, full, full! After a few fun photo ops with Susie, we got out on the road, with Tom on foot from Lisa’s Grill heading toward Ste. Genevieve. He ran out of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois along Bluff Road. We’re running almost due east now, but we’ll turn south at Modoc to catch the ferry into Ste. Genevieve. There are tall …

DAY 58 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4

PRAIRIE DU ROCHER LAYOVER Cheryl and Susie prepares us a lavish breakfast at the The Conner House Bed and Breakfast. We basically don’t need to eat for days after that. Tom and I both settled into our laptops for a while after the feast, catching up on writing and preparations for the towns to come. Then we headed out, down to the American Bottoms where the Fort de Chartres still stands. We had an appointment to meet with former site manager Darrell Duensing, but when we first arrived we ran into the new groundskeeper Tim. After a quick walkthrough of the …

DAY 57 – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3

EAST ST. LOUIS TO PRAIRIE DU ROCHER We woke, said goodbye to Edna and Reggie and hit the road. Tom set out on foot from the house after studying the map and reciting the directions aloud. I thought for sure he’d make it easily to the transition until I started driving the route myself. What seemed like a straight enough path “on paper” turned out to be a maze of twists and turns and sometimes confounding street signage. After waiting at the exchange point ten minutes longer than expected, I knew he had gone off course, but there was nothing …

DAY 56 – MONDAY SEPTEMBER 2

ST. LOUIS TO EAST ST. LOUIS There’s a concept in human thinking called confirmation bias – you see what you expect to see. When I crossed the river into East St. Louis this morning and ran down Collinsville Avenue, my expectations were confirmed. This once vibrant city is now a modern-day ruin with empty storefronts, abandoned buildings, overgrown lots where businesses and houses once stood. Despair and hopelessness. What a difference a day makes . . . It’s Labor Day 2019 – hot and sunny. I ran the Eads Bridge over the Great River into East St. Louis. My route …