August 10, 2008

ZAP Fitness Mini Marathon Running Camp

Virginia Creeper Trail Long Run

Moses Cone Memorial Park

Traci and Gail

Jill, Zika, and Pete

I had never been to Blowing Rock, North Carolina in my life, now I have been there twice in the past two weeks! I can't thank Pete and Zika Rea enough for having me back to speak at their Marathon Prep Mini Camp at their ZAP Fitness Center in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, outside of Blowing Rock. My friend and former world record holder in the marathon, Steve Jones was suppose to be the guest speaker, but Jonesy was in Beijing with one of the athletes he coaches, so I was his sub, I had another wonderful time!

My wife Jill was able to come with me this time, she had never been to North Carolina before and was awestruck by the beauty!

We arrived into Charlotte on Thursday afternoon, picked up our rental car and were off to Blowing Rock. The drive is about two hours and the scenery is spectacular especially when you start to get into the mountains.

It was Jill's 45th birthday and we celebrated it with a wonderful meal at Crippens, a bed and breakfast that also serves incredible dinner meals!

After supper, we headed the few miles down the road to ZAP Fitness, got all checked in, and met about 25 of the campers that were there.

Friday morning it was up and a short drive to Moses H. Cone Memorial Park for a beautiful run on the roughly 30 miles of carriage trails. Moses Cone, was a well to do textile tycoon and owned 3600 acres in the mountains. He build a beautiful summer mansion and had the carriage trails made so he and his wife along with friends and family members could ride their horses. After he and his wife died, they were buried on the property and it was made into this beautiful park for all of us to share in its beauty!

We all ran various distances through the park. Afterwards, Jill and I spent most of the day in Blowing Rock checking out all the neat little stores they have, Blowing Rock today is definitely a tourist town!

After a great meal of pasta that Chef John put on at ZAP Fitness, I gave a talk to the group, it went very well and I had many nice comments.

Afterwards I got to mingle with the campers and get to know them better, it was then lights out as we were getting up early the next morning to go for a long run.

Saturday morning was gorgeous! Cool and beautiful blue sky was the entire day! We all car pooled and drove about 50 miles, out of North Carolina, through Tennessee to Virginia to run on the Virginia Creeper Trail. The Virginia Creeper Trail is an old abandoned railroad line that has been turned into almost 40 miles of groomed trail to run, bike, or horseback ride.

I have been very fortunate to have run in some beautiful places in my 35 years of running, I can honestly say, the Virginia Creeper Trail is one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful place I've ever run! The footing is excellent, the trail is completely tree covered with shade, the railroad bridges and rivers you cross are breathtaking!

I did a 15 mile run with some of the elite athletes from ZAP Fitness, we were doing a very nice up tempo run, they were very kind to me as they could have left me in the dust anytime they wanted to! What a thrill it was to run with them. My wife Jill also did a long run of about 90 minutes and felt great and also could not get over the beauty of it all!

After our run many of us went over to the river and soaked our legs in the nice cool water, boy did that feel good! Afterwards, Jill and I took off for a windy, mountainous road trip through the mountains and back to ZAP Fitness.

After another great meal on Saturday evening, we all went into Blowing Rock and a trip to the homemade ice cream parlor, not many runners that I know that don't like ice cream!

Sunday morning I was up very early for a nice run on the treadmill, then Jill and I packed our bags and said our goodbyes to all and headed back to Charlotte.

Again, thanks so much to Pete and Zika for having us as their guest and thank you to all the campers who helped make the trip Jill and I had such a memorable one!


P.S. Jill here...:-) Here are all of the pictures that I took this weekend. If you want one sent to you separately, just email me directly at

Thanks to Pete, Zika and all of the campers for making my weekend very memorable and meaningful. I am inspired by your stories and your strength.
P.S.S. Here is the link that has 9 minutes of the finish of the 1982 Boston Marathon.
P.S.S.S. Here is the link for information on how to purchase one of Dick's books.


Susan said...

Dick & Jill,
It was so great to meet you...what an inspiration you are! The pictures are beautiful; thanks for sharing them. Looking forward to running Austin in February.

Take care,
Susan Breitbart

Anonymous said...

I thank both of you for coming to camp. Dick, I will never forget your talk - no one else has ever made me laugh and cry like that. Jill - thanks for the beautiful photos. I've been back to camp this week when I look at them. :-)

Cherry Kent