Travel Report: On the Road to Weld Maine for the First Annual Raven Run Dateline July 15th-18th 2023

Event held in appreciation of local resident and World Renowned Ultra Distance Runner and Biologist Bernd Heinrich and put on by the Webb Lake Association.

Among Bernd’s well known books is “Mind of the Raven” giving our event a cool name and our limited edition mugs a cool design.

When I first heard about the Raven Run indirectly from Bernd through his friend and mine Jack Fultz the 1976 Boston Marathon Champion, I put it on the calendar and planned to attend. Initially I thought that I would have company on my trip to the north including Jack, but when the time came I was on my own.

I do often travel alone and enjoy letting things come my way and develop with a minimum of planning. I do have a concern about my ride a Ford Focus Wagon, 16 years old with 260,000 on her old Nellie. I figured if we just poked it along and took her easy we’d be okay.

I packed up the night before including my guitar because I do need to practice and with nothing holding me back I was up early and on the road just as the sun was getting warmed up and I stopped at the Dunkin for a pail of coffee and a bagel to fuel the first part of my trip.

I hit the highway and stayed relaxed and cool hitting 65 for the long run and just trying to stay out of everyone else’s way since they all seemed to want to go a hell of a lot faster than that. It was smooth sailing and I hit the Piscataqua Bridge in a little over an hour. This is where the journey just begins the bridge crossing providing views of the ocean and the city of Portsmouth NH as you cross the border into Maine.

I figured to stop for a stretch at around the half way point just outside Portland 110 miles in. Route 95 in this area above Portland becomes a very straight line with dips up and down in the road I’m riding it like a boat on the sea. Getting off the highway in Lewiston and then beyond the city limits you start to enter the wilder more remote areas. Firearms Dealers, Cannabis Shops and tractors are aplenty and the roadside lobster roll stands all offering the best roll in the state.

I lose my way around Farmington but soon get back on track. I have not decided where I will spend the night but I am considering camping out at Mt. Blue State Park just a few miles from where the race starts. I stop in the center of Weld to ponder the situation and spot a sign for the Kawanhee Inn one mile away. It is midafternoon, I decide to investigate.

The Inn is a beautiful spot on Lake Webb and the race start is located at the Head of the Lake which you can see from the beach area at the Inn. I book my room unpack and go for an easy twenty minute jog and when I return I grab my towel and beach chair and a few Maine Beers of the Lunch variety and also my books and notebook and I cozy up on the shore after a nice swim in the magnificent cool waters washing off that road trip.

I am ready to have a shower and nice dinner at the Inn but unfortunately the water pump goes and we got neither so I head to the local pizza joint for a pie. I eat in my room play my guitar for a bit then head downstairs for a glass of wine. I read and hit the feathers at 10.

Up early around six for the 8:30 start I grab some coffee and make my way to the start to pick up my race number and mug. I also help myself and pinch a half a bagel meant for the race volunteers. We are parked in a large grassy field where I am hoping Ole Nellie won’t get stuck in the mud.

I say a quick hello to Bernd wearing number 1 and looking happy as a clam and fit as a mule at 83 years young. I chat up some others including a forest ranger and a couple who travelled a long way to meet Bernd and have their books signed by him. The entire event is quintessential New England road racing scene reminiscent of the sport I signed up for oh those many years ago.

I am uneasy about my sore hamstring which began to bother me after a race I ran on the Fourth of July, one my best efforts in quite a while but now I was paying the piper and struggling to recover with this quite demanding course, 5.7 mile of undulating dirt road in front of me.

After a few remarks from Bernd we started out across the grass fields. I immediately found my way to the back of the pack.

This loop we were running was Bernd’s vita in his heyday and since then he has run it perhaps a thousand times. This loop was to Bernd was what Jamaica Pond loop in Boston was for Bill Rodgers a favored almost sacred place for each of them.

It was a foggy humid morning and after a few miles of chatting it up with others I found myself alone with the mosquitos and black flies.

At three miles in 39:00 I thought I had it in the bag but on the next steep downhill portion my hamstring tightened up and I was in survival mode for that last 2.7 hanging on like a loose tooth, on a hot humid summer day when the air hangs the branches and leaves hang silently from the trees and the cloud formation’s hang and the sun shimmers.

With the 5 mile mark up ahead of me shuffling along and talking to myself and singing “Everybody saying music is love…David Crosby.” and just then exactly at the cone with the big 5 on it are standing a Moose and 2 moose calves.

Not too surprisingly the runners ahead of me had disappeared over a hill and no one to be seen behind I’m alone. I gave them a little space and as I passed they seemed to be saying “You got this Hodgie, you old fart.”

As I approach the finish a wave of people pass me leaving me possibly in DFL oh well. I hang around for a couple of hours after the race and have a hot dog and a beer for breakfast. Later I return to the Inn and hit the beach for a lazy afternoon of reading and a nice longish swim. Feeling good. Bliss potency.

I go to bed early and sleep for about 11 hours waking up to heavy rain but feeling well rested.

The hamstring don’t feel too bad but I decide to walk for an hour and do a quick swim rather than run. Not sure I could even run properly anyway as I get older I wonder if every injury could be the end of my running at all.

Time to begin the journey home I am not ready for this adventure to end and since retiring the world has slowed a bit in some way and I remember this is what I was thinking when anyone would ask me “What am I going to do?” When I retire but inscrutability rules the future.

I’m going to remember and part of that thinking led me to Higgins Beach in South Portland area a place about half way home that I will recall fondly the many vacations we spent when our daughter Lily was very young about the same age as her own daughter now, Avid.

I walk the beach and swim in the surf experiencing the best Maine has to offer but putting all that division of states and countries and borders behind the best the world has to offer.

Counting our blessings. Hold on world it’s gonna be alright.

Music is Love: