3 Amigos – Poconos Marathon

The Pocono Mountain Run for the Red Marathon, Stroudsburg, PA-With spring in the air its time to load up the VW bus and head out on a road trip. The Amigos are heading south to run in the 3rd annual Pocono Mountain Run for the Red Marathon. We’ll be running in the Pocono Mountains from Tobyhanna to Stroudsburg, PA. Wow, do you think it will be hilly?

The forecast for the weekend is rain. We figure before we head down to the “State of Independence” we’ll stop off at a running store and pick up some rain gear. We head into a Nike store and are deafened by some new age angry music. Now we know how our parents felt when we’d play Led Zeppelin. Get us out of here! Maybe we’ll be able to find something at the expo. At this point we’ll be happy just doing the designer Glad bags if need be. We are back on the road for our five-hour drive.

We can’t remember the last time we drove to a marathon, but it’s the quickest and cheapest way to the Pocono’s. Our ride is uneventful all the way down to the Delaware Water Gap. Congress established the Gap, which is in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as a National Recreation Area in 1965. Driving around Kittatinny Mountain makes us a little nervous as to what we might experience on Sunday. After a quick stop at Dingmans Falls Visitor Center, we are off to the marathon’s host hotel. The Pocono’s used to be a top honeymoon spot and home to the heart-shaped bath tub, but we’re not too disappointed when we don’t find one in our room.

After checking out our digs we figure we’ll walk into town, find where we pick up our marathon bus on Sunday, and then have dinner. We decide on Flood’s Bar. “Flood’s claim to fame is that it boasts a beer selection from just about every country on the planet. We figure we’ll start off with a round of the oldest brewed beer in America, from right here in Pennsylvania-Yes, Yuengling!

Unfortunately, just about everyone in Flood’s missed the memo that “Cigarettes Kill You.” We can’t stand the smoke and have to get out. Fortunately, we find an even better place: “Brownies in the Burg.” Our waitress, Christina, is charming and the puff pastry wrapped asparagus, topped with a light cream sauce, is awesome. A great first day of vacation for the Amigos.  It’s funny, we consider a 5-hour drive followed by a 26.2 mile run followed by another 5-hour drive a vacation. But we also get to explore a part of the country we’ve never seen before. Hey, sounds like a blast to us!

After sleeping in we are off to discover the Pocono’s. We’ve planned a pretty full day considering we have to run a marathon tomorrow. We’ve brought Betty, our navigation system, along with us again. She was invaluable in Michigan last month. Our first programmed destination is Bushkill Falls, “The Niagara of Pennsylvania.” There are so many towns in this area that end in “kill.” We hope they aren’t trying to tell us something.

After paying an admission fee of $9 we’re off for an hour hike to check out a series of eight waterfalls. This is actually a pretty cool place. We would have liked more time to explore all the trails but it makes some sense to take it easy on our legs.

Our next stop on the tour is the town of Jim Thorpe. Back in the 1930’s the town of Mauch Chunk was struggling financially. The town officials decided to rename the town to try to start some momentum toward reviving business. They decided to change the name to Jim Thorpe, the Olympic gold medalist. Apparently it worked. We think any name change from Mauch Chunk would have done the trick. Instead of walking the streets of Jim Thorpe we decide to head back to the hotel and just chill out while watching the Kentucky Derby.

This is the 134th  Run for the Roses. This past Boston Marathon was the 112th running. We wonder if we will ever see any Kenyan jockeys.
Because the pasta dinner is at our hotel and it’s included in our entry fee (a very good thing) we opt to stay in house and check it out. It is a pet peeve of the Amigos when the pasta dinner is not included in the entry fee. Thumbs up for the Pocono’s. The pasta dinner is usually a good way to meet new people and hear about new marathons. We aren’t disappointed in this respect but the pasta is disappointing. It’s funny, you can mess up a lot of things at a marathon but as far as the Amigos are concerned it’s unforgivable to put on a lousy pasta dinner with no rolls, no dessert? Shame on you!

After dinner it’s into the bar to hang out with some other 50 Staters. Another great day, seeing another great part of our country; tomorrow, it’s the marathon, just a beer (or two) tonight!

The marathon follows a traffic-free point-to-point course and goes off at 8:00 am. The buses leave at 6:30 am. Why is it that we always have to show up at the start hours before the gun goes off? There are only about 500 of us. It’s not like we need to be corralled ala Boston. At least we have a warm building with bathrooms. We hook up with a fellow Amigo from Wichita who ran the Red Rock Canyon Marathon, in Nevada, with us back in March. She just ran Boston two weeks ago. They sure make them tough in the Mid-West (or a little crazy).

The forecast for the day is cloudy and in the high forties with the wind from the west, ideal conditions. It’s very foggy, which makes it hard for those of us who wear glasses, but we’ll persevere. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to check out the scenery for the first few miles.

The gun goes off right on time after the national anthem. The course has a steady downhill grade for most of the 26.2 miles but organizers do promise a few hills. They definitely do not break that promise. With the exception of a few screaming downhills it seems like we are always going up. This run is a real quad killer.

There are water stops every two miles (H2O and Gatorade) and also Got-A-Go Potties. The volunteers out on the course are our only cheering section. Nonetheless, this is a marathon put on by marathon runners with attention paid to every detail. Runners have been warned that anyone wearing headphones will be disqualified. It’s about time! The Amigos have always assumed that anyone wearing headphones was trying to drum out their run and therefore shouldn’t be running. They should stick to roller blading!

Finally, after a 26.2-mile roller coaster ride we make our way into the Stroudsburg High School stadium. Yes, they do make us run around the track to the finish line; we hate that! No hardware for the Amigos this time around but a great time is had by all, all in all.
This is a very good but challenging marathon. An Amigo’s recommendation: Don’t let the elevation profile fool you. Would we go back? A definite èÏyes’ but next time we’d plan on spending a week. OK, it’s time to reload Bettie and head back to New England. On our next trip we’ll be flying to Rochester, Minnesota to do the Med-City Marathon. Maybe the Twins will be in town. We hope to see you out there!

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