It may kill me if you don’t
Sunday’s run was a 20-miler, the last long run before the Des Moines Marathon on Oct. 21.
For my last few long runs, I’ve taken to running some different routes — running further away from town than I have in the past few years. I was getting bored with the same routes, so I decided to shake it up a bit. In early August, I ran from Fort Madison to Keokuk. This time I reversed the route, starting in Keokuk and finishing in Fort Madison.
The first 10 miles of the route was along the Mississippi River Road. The air was brisk, probably 40 degrees, but the sunshine made for a comfortable run. The leaves are at their most vibrant stage of the fall; another week or so, and they will be past their prime. The river was gorgeous, if a bit dark due to the freshening north wind.
The last 6 miles or so are along a gravel road just south of Fort Madison. You run next to the fields of corn and beans, and you can feel a real affinity for the country.
It’s the stretch between the opening miles and the closing miles that are problematic. For about 4 miles, you have to run along Highway 61. This four-lane stretch of highway is the least scenic — and the most harrowing. It’s not that I’ve really ever had problems along the highway, but the speeding traffic certainly keeps you on your toes, so to speak.
This portion of the highway has been a deadly stretch for bikers. Two bikers have been killed along here over the past few years, and another was killed just up the road. It was after this deadly string of accidents that the state of Iowa decided to add an extra bit of blacktop shoulder to the road. I don’t know that the state will admit that this is why they added the blacktop, but it was shortly after the third fatality that they added the extra shoulder.
Now there’s the four-lane highway, rumble strips on the side of the road to keep drivers on the main portion of the road and then the new blacktop shoulder. The blacktop shoulder is wide enough for a bike or two to get off the main portion of the highway, and there is still a few feet of gravel shoulder beyond this.
This is rural Iowa, so the traffic is not bumper to bumper by any means. And I was running on a late Sunday morning, which cuts down on the traffic, too. I didn’t meet any crazy or problem drivers, but there were plenty of drivers who I would call inconsiderate.
I’m 6 feet tall, nearly 200 pounds and wearing a BRIGHT green shirt. Anyone paying the least bit of attention would have a hard time not seeing me on this wide-open stretch of road. How do I know that you could see me, if you were paying attention? Because about half the drivers scooted over to give me a bit more room. Apparently they didn’t have any problem spotting me. As for the other half, they were just plain inconsiderate or they were asleep at the wheel. Either way, it ticks me off.
If you’re a runner/active person — or just a considerate person — you probably scoot over for runners, bikers or walkers. If you’re not doing this, please consider doing this simple gesture. If your loved one was walking, biking or running along a busy road, would you want the traffic to move over for them?
I’ve always likened buzzing a runner with your car to firing off a gun near someone’s head. Either way, you’re playing with a deadly object way too close to a person.
What if there’s a car in the other lane that prevents you from scooting over? You know, cars come with brakes; you can slow down a bit and then pull over. This may cost the motorist 5 or 10 seconds — and it may save someone’s life.
I see more and more diamond-shaped traffic signs that feature a picture of a bicycle and the words “Share the road.” This is great advice for all of us. The life you save could be that of a friend or loved one.
Check out the running route as logged on Endomondo: