Category: Activities

Family Fun Activities – Twelve Year Old Niece Edition

When we visited Pittsburgh over Labor Day weekend, our twelve year old niece created an itinerary of genius (if slightly wacky) activities for us to try. We’re no strangers to shenanigans and nonsense. They’re some of our favorite things. After all, we’ve got thirty years of experience having fun with nieces and nephews.

Disclaimer: My attorney wants me to tell you these activities involve risk. Don’t blow up the kitchen. Don’t explode canned goods in the oven. Don’t choke on a pretzel chip. I shouldn’t have to tell you not to sample the Google Bake. Don’t give each other conjunctivitis. As always, use the good sense God gave you when trying out any new activity. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Google Bake: Unfamiliar? We were too. Here are the rules:
1) Paste a recipe into Google Translate, then translate into many different languages in succession.
2) Translate back into the original language.
3) Without reading the recipe first, follow the new instructions line by line and see where it takes you!

Because my niece and I weren’t allowed to peek, my sister and cousin translated the keto Death by Chocolate Cake recipe for us. Here’s the recipe with our notes and adjustments italicized:

kweKetone Marwolaethcacen kuqukethezekhekhe (Zulu?!)

lokuxuba lokuxubhawesinkwa (of the breadcrumb mix)
2 umhlabathienomhlabathi (soil and soil) million cups of almond powder – This cake is getting expensive. We didn’t have *quite* that much almond flour, so we used an enormous bag of wheat flour instead.
1 cup of molten sweetener Noman erythritol – Everything I microwave becomes “molten”, so…..
is 1/2 cup flour and cocoa – MORE flour!
half age 1. Bake – It didn’t say how long to bake. A few seconds should do.
butter1/2 cuprhowchôl – We didn’t know what rhowchôl was, but we thought that sounded vaguely like chow-chow, which is kind of like the pickle relish we found in the fridge, so…in you go, 1/2 cup of dill pickle relish.

vanilla extract 1 teaspoon then – Throw in a teaspoon. That’s gonna crunch when bitten into.
egg in – Initially, the egg went in whole, then the 12 year old decided we should probably crack it so that she could sample the cake after baking.
2cwpan milk – We assumed cwpan means cup. It does!

caws8oz, replace – Caw. Like a crow.
half the butter, replaced – Not sure what was wrong with the first half of butter. But we replaced it anyway.
flour flour 1/3 of erythritol – Flour. Flour. This is gonna be one gluey glaze.
for 1 hour. L. Remove the vanilla 3 meters.
L. – We didn’t have nearly ten feet to work with, so we placed the bottle of vanilla as far to the left as we could. On the floor. In front of the pots and pans cabinet.
It’s not fun, but you’re dying – Oh, but it is fun!
2 meters. L. a new cream to choose – Reject cream cheese, choose whipping cream instead.
chocolate chip lily (isikhwamangentuthu – the haze!) with
bread – Melt chocolate, spread on Mom’s good Dave’s Killer Bread. She won’t mind.

  1. sentuthusibe350 degrees.
  2. Mix almond powder, erythritol, cocoa powder and baking powder well in a large bowl. Mix butter and vanilla. Incorrect eggs (so judgy!), mix well, stir well and mix well (that’s a whole lotta mixing) with almond milk.
  3. Carefully wrap three standard cake pans (or use stickers if necessary) or use a spoon to prevent sticking. Gives a third with cans. Huh? Canned goods? Okay. We didn’t have gift wrap, so we stickered the cans instead. I’m still not convinced that prevents sticking, but whatevs. We didn’t write this recipe. We’re just the test kitchen.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes (replace the oven) until it comes in contact again and the toothbrush is clean. Just in case you thought 2 million cups of almond flour was expensive; you could replace an oven for that.
  5. Allow it to cool completely before removing it from the pan. I kept it at room temperature for a few hours and kept the room warm at night, which worked well. It’s September. The room is already warm at night.
  6. Put in a large bowl and stir all ingredients until foamy for 3-5 minutes. Less foamy, more concrete in texture and weight.
  7. Combination: Put the first piece of cake on top and clean it from freezing to high. We’ve already brushed it’s teeth, I’m not cleaning it again.
  8. Put the second layer of the cup and add the glass, this will damage the ice on the cake. Too bad we threw out that broken glass. Could’ve used it in this recipe.
  9. If necessary, specify customization options. I think we’ve customized this enough.

Floor Picnic:
When your niece invites you to have a “Floor Picnic” with her, you just say yes! Never mind that you don’t know what a floor picnic is. Turns out, it’s just what it seems. Spread a quilt on the floor and place favorite picnic foods in the center. Try to keep the peanut shell/popcorn mess contained to the quilt. Get comfy and watch a movie together. Simple, indoor fun!

Googly Eyes Makeovers:
Partner up with a willing victim participant. Spread old makeup that you don’t mind ruining onto the table. Raid the Halloween supplies for this one. Place the “hard” lenses into the frames of the glasses from the game Googly Eyes. We needed a fourth player for this one, so our niece used her powers of persuasion on him, and Mark extremely reluctantly agreed to step in. He’s a good sport!

The player with the glasses on must take an unassisted “before” selfie of the two of you. They then give the other player a makeover using the cosmetics before them. Again, unassisted. No hints, no help opening containers. Nothing. Once the makeover is complete, the player with the glasses on takes an “after” selfie. Switch glasses and give the other player a makeover. Makeup remover wipes are optional equipment for this game, but highly recommended.

Pro tip: Keep your eyes tightly shut during your makeover. Don’t worry too much though, your cosmetologist shouldn’t be able to find your eyes to hit them!

Best uncle ever. I think *someone* needs to go to a rock concert made up like this! She better remember this day when we’re old and in a nursing home. Just sayin’.

Is your family game to try these activities? If so, plan an itinerary for them! Let me know how that goes in the comments. A certain twelve year old will be waiting to hear all about it.

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2021 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

12 Great Reasons to Run Virtual Races

Over the past few years, I’ve run several virtual races. That’s where you run the distance at a time, place and pace of your choosing, then upload your results to the race’s website. I’m a fan of virtuals and here’s why:

  • You get the opportunity to run races that aren’t local. Occasionally, I see upcoming races that aren’t available nearby and running it virtually is a nice option.
  • Awesome race bling in the form of shirts and finisher medals. Let’s get real: Will run for swag. My favorite running shirt came from a virtual, the Hakuna Mimosa.
  • Walkers are always welcome. Not every classic race is open to walkers, but in a virtual, you get to decide who can participate. It’s open to everyone!
  • No travel required. Now, I love a good away game, but that can be expensive and time-consuming. Sometimes it’s just not convenient or possible.
We ran Honor the Brave on Memorial Day Weekend in Fishers, IN. Back home, we ran 4 additional 5ks to earn the ‘dog tags’ that attach to the bottom of the medal.
  • A virtual is all the fun of race day without the pre-race jitters. There is no pressure to compete, unless you want that. One you upload your results, you can see see how you stack up against the other racers.
  • No packet pick-up with limited hours. Although I love a good pre-race expo, there’s something to be said for sitting back and letting the mailman deliver your swag.
Shirt on offer at the pre-race expo for Charleston Distance Run.
  • Race at your convenience. If you need to run at 7:00 AM instead of 9:00 AM, do that! You’re not locked down to rearranging your schedule for an event. Running with friends? Choose a time that works for all of you!
  • No parking hassles. You don’t have to pay to park, or get extra mileage by parking in no-man’s-land. I mean, we’re here to exercise, but let’s not get too crazy!
Having a little tongue-in-cheek fun with our team name for the Run A Latte virtual. Run on Memorial Day 2019, we were team Stinking Hotties by the end of the 10k!
  • No port-o-johns and no waiting in line for them. Hallelujah! Having to use a port-o-john is my #1 race day worry. I hate them with a passion.
  • Injured on race day? Is the weather bad? Re-schedule it! There’s no need to defer or DNS.
  • Pause your GPS whenever you need to. Competing in classic races, I’ve run through beautiful neighborhoods and thought “I’d really like to slow down and explore this area for a bit.” That’s not a problem with a virtual. You’re the official timer. Stop and smell the roses lilies, take in the view, selfie, use a legit bathroom.

You never know what strange things you might see.

Organically grown, grass-fed BBQ sauce. Found free-ranging, down by the Roanoke River.
  • Choose your own recovery food. No pre-race and post-race gluten-filled food that I can’t eat anyway. I’m looking at you, pizza, donuts and beer!

Bonus Reason to love virtual races:
They make great gifts. The recipient can customize the experience to their tastes. I registered for The Easter Bunny brought us race entries to the Run A Latte virtual this year.

I’ve used and recommend 131 Events for classic and virtual races:

Are you tempted to register for a virtual? There are so many fun reasons to give it a try. I think you’ll like it!

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2021 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

I Hiked McAfee Knob and Didn’t Die

From time to time, our little running group likes to change things up and hike instead. There are so many amazing sights and experiences in SW Virginia, that sometimes I take them for granted. One such view that is practically on our front doorstep is McAfee Knob.

What can I say about McAfee Knob that hasn’t already been said? It’s one of the most photographed spots along the Appalachian Trail and for good reason; the views are breathtaking. Watching fellow hikers get too close to the edge of the knob is breathtaking too, but for different reasons.

From 311 to the knob is eight miles, round trip. Our group chose to take the fire road up to the trail, because most of us aren’t actual hikers. We’re really just in it for the social aspect of the outing.

And the pretty pictures.

Because I’m trying not to trip while staring at my feet anyway, I might as well enjoy the flowers along the trail. And look for heart rocks.

Because there are so many hikers on the mountain, you’re not likely to see a lot of wildlife along the way. Which is just fine with me. No snakes or bears.

After about two miles, we transitioned from the wide, easy fire road onto the more technical Appalachian Trail. Some in our group hiked a slightly longer route and approached the knob from the east. How they got over there, I have no idea, but they were advised to go that route by a fellow hiker because it had “a way doper view”. I hear that trail skirted the cliff, and their views focused on foot placement so as to remain on the mountain, not enjoying the “way doper view” from a freefall.

Don’t expect solitude while taking in the views at McAfee Knob, especially on weekends. If the weather is nice, the knob will be jammed up like a Disney park during spring break.

Not to worry, if you chat up the other hikers, you’ll meet some fascinating people and maybe even hear a crazy story or two. We met a few through-hikers and loads of day-trippers. One group was leaving as we arrived mid-morning. Maybe we drove them out? I wouldn’t bet against it. They were hiking the 28 miles of Virginia’s Triple Crown (Tinker Cliffs, McAfee Knob and Dragon’s Tooth) all in one day. *gulp*

Be sure to bring water and a snack. This is a good spot to re-fuel for the trek back down the mountain.

After resting awhile and soaking up the views, it was time to head back to civilization. We gave our knees a good pounding on the rocky trail, and then rewarded them by taking the more hospitable fire road for the duration of the hike.

Pro tip: When hiking the knob on the weekend, get to the parking lot on 311 early. Like, 6:30 to 7:00 AM, early. It fills up quickly.
If you’re hiking in a group, I recommend meeting at the park-and-ride lot (Orange Market – intersection of 311 and 419) and carpooling to the lot at the trail head on 311. We finished our hike about 11:00 AM and there were people literally blocking our parking spot hoping to snag it as we left. There were friendly volunteers directing traffic, trying to smooth out the parking situation. But fair warning, weekend parking at 311 is dog-eat-dog.

For more reading on McAfee Knob:
And if you’re crazy enough to do Virginia’s Triple Crown:

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2021 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Half Marathon – A Race Review

I’ll just come right out and say it. Blue Ridge is the best race. Regardless of which distance you are running, this one will keep you coming back year after year. Spoiler alert: It will beat you every time.

Isn’t ‘insanity’ doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Maybe so, but you will love this insanity! Blue Ridge truly has something for everyone: Carilion Children’s 1 miler, Anthem Star 10k, marathon relay, half marathon, full marathon and for those of you with zero good sense, the double marathon! Seriously. You really can run the full, twice in one day. You’ll earn a sweet double finisher gift if you do.

Blue Ridge boasts of being America’s Toughest Road Races for good reason. Unless you’re doing the children’s 1 miler, you will encounter some crazy elevation gain and loss throughout each race course. Forget PRing this one. Just focus on finishing it, and enjoying the gorgeous views and the outpouring of community support along the way.

The pre-race expo is always a good time. Bring some extra pocket jingle to buy race gear like the hoodie my husband, Mark is wearing here. If you see something you like, buy it. Race merchandise is limited and sells out quickly.

Pre-race smiles…and jitters. Let’s get this party started!

Mark chose to interval this as his first full marathon with twin goals of staying on course and beating the sweep. His walking pace is faster than my running pace. Also, you can’t get lost at Blue Ridge. They do a great job of marking the course and there are helpful course marshals everywhere. Just follow the arrows that match the color of your bib.

I pre-registered for the half marathon but planned to switch to the 10k, because I was rehabbing a bone bruise in my foot and had not been able to train properly. At the last minute, I decided to stick with the half and walk it. My friend Kelly was walking the 10k, so we adventured together for the first 5 miles, stopping to take selfies with everything and everyone. Race day is a much different experience without the pressure of trying to PR.

Pa Kettle met us as we began our ascent up Mill Mountain.

The community support for Blue Ridge is second to none. Homeowners along the route come out to bolster the runners with music, signs, words of encouragement and unofficial aid stations. Our friends Donna and Lorelie have awesome front yard cheer stations, families offer apple juice boxes and other treats to the runners, homeowners set up their sprinklers streetside to run through. There are some quirky surprises to look forward to as well.

Don’t be concerned about having to walk during the race; nearly everyone walks the uphill sections. You’ll meet some great people with interesting stories to tell if you’re chatty. A few years ago, I met a 72 year old lady who was walking the half with her teenage grandkids and trash-talking them the whole way up Mill Mountain. She was so funny! This year, we met some nice people who were visiting from Pennsylvania and we gave our beer tickets to them. #glutenallergy #designateddriver

Smile for the photographers along the race course! Blue Ridge offers free race day photos. You can search them by your name or bib number after the race.

Made it to the Star!

There’s a party at the star with food, drinks, music and lots of opportunities for picture-taking. Pause your tracking app, take a selfie or two and soak in the panoramic views of the Roanoke Valley.

Once you’ve had a moment to rest at the star, it’s time to head back down the mountain. The “Old Road” is very picturesque and offers beautiful woodland views. You won’t be on it for long before you start to see some curious signs.

These ladies serve up mimosas to the runners at Rockledge, an historic, stone home on the side of Mill Mountain. Whether you enjoy a mimosa or not, pause a moment and take in the stunning city views before leaving Rockledge.

You won’t lack for entertainment during Blue Ridge. There are funny signs along the course.

And musicians to serenade you.

Kelly and I said goodbye at the Walnut Avenue bridge where the 10k course heads to the finish and the half course pops onto the greenway towards South Roanoke. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Enjoy the relatively flat section of greenway through McClanahan; you’ll start to climb again on 22nd Street and as you wind your way through the rolling hills of SoRo. The calm before the storm that is Peakwood.

Cutest little race supporter! (She’s not in the Witness Protection Program; I just don’t put kid’s pics on the internet without permission.)

Round the corner onto Somerset and enjoy one last water stop before it’s time to climb again. I had just barely started up Peakwood when a man yelled to me “It’s not far now! You’re almost to the top!”
You tell beautiful, beautiful lies.

Yes, Peakwood needs its own welcome!
This is the steep section of the half that we all love to dread.

As you climb, you’ll convince yourself that the top is just around the next curve.

Or the next one.

At mile 8.8 there is a short downhill section that, for the uninitiated, may trick you into thinking that was the worst of Peakwood. Don’t be fooled. You’re going to climb again. Even more demoralizing, full marathoners will breeze right past! Resist the temptation to trip them.

And just when you’ve given up all hope of ever cresting Peakwood, there it is! The party in the cul-de-sac! These friendly volunteers will greet you with champagne, fresh fruit and more importantly, with smiles and words of encouragement.

Grab an ice-cold towel to wash the sweat away before you begin the trek back down into SoRo proper.

The downhill stretch from West Ridge Road through Rosalind Avenue is the reward for completing Peakwood.

South Roanoke in the springtime cannot be prettier. These gorgeous views almost make you completely forget the pain that is Blue Ridge.


Be sure to stop for a selfie with the mannequin. ‘Cause that’s not awkward at all. I told you there are quirky surprises!

Cresting the bridge in front of Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital on Jefferson Street. One more mile to go. But who’s counting?!

After I finished the half, I met up with our friends Nikki and Michelle to wait for Mark to finish. He earned bragging rights within our circle of running friends by being the first in the group to tackle the full.

I haven’t said ‘never’ to a full marathon, but after watching friends limp around post-race in various levels of pain; let’s just say I’m not currently interested. When I finish a half marathon thinking ‘Boy, I could really go for another 13 miles right now!’, I’ll sign up for a full!

I’m super proud of this guy. I honestly expected him to be in serious pain by the end of the race. Two blocks from the finish line, he yelled to Nikki, “This is fun; you’re doing it next year!”

No, Mark didn’t run the team relay, we just grabbed the wrong sign. Oops!

After receiving your finisher medal, hobble on over to the the Fleet Feet Recovery Zone and have your aching muscles rolled out by a friendly volunteer, or enjoy a massage by a physical therapist.

Once you can walk upright again, visit the food tent for post-race pizza and other snacks, or head into the Elmwood Park amphitheater for live music, food trucks and craft beer. It’s time to revel in successfully completing one of America’s Toughest Road Races!

For more information on the Blue Ridge races, click here:
While you’re there, go ahead and register for the next race.
Blue Ridge will kick your butt, but you’ll love it. Promise.

I’m not in partnership with any brands mentioned in this race review. I’m simply sharing my experience with this race.

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2021 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Hiking The Sunrise Carriage Trail in Charleston, WV

I’m just gonna come right out and say it. I love this trail because it is more about history and scenic views than serious hiking. We’ve already established that I’m not a hiker. Carriage Trail (as the locals call it) is an urban stroll along the old drive to Sunrise; the mansion home of West Virginia’s 9th Governor, William A. MacCorkle.

Don’t expect a typical rocky, rooty, woodland trail. This 1.3 mile out and back is a wide, gravel drive bordered by impressive stonework, beautiful plantings and lush woods. There are several places to rest, and interesting, historical monuments along the way. With just over 200′ of elevation gain/loss it’s a fairly easy hike, and makes an enjoyable, family outing.

In the second year of the Civil War two women convicted as spies by drum head court martial, were brought to this spot, shot, and here buried. In 1905, when building this road to Sunrise, their remains were disinterred and re-buried opposite this stone. W.A.M.

We parked at the lot by the Kanawha River and began our ascent to Sunrise. The sounds of the city mostly died away as we walked further into the woods. Well behaved dogs on a leash are welcome here and we explored with our local guides, my sister-in-law, Wanda, and her adorable dog, Alice.

Some online reviews of Carriage Trail said that it gets very crowded, but we only saw a few people on the trail. Workers in downtown Charleston could hike this on their lunch break. I can imagine this trail is popular with locals because it is short and picturesque with convenient parking just below Bridge Road.

Governor MacCorkle was injured in an auto accident along with his 35 year old daughter, Isabelle, who died from her injuries. He erected this memorial to her. A few years later, MacCorkle died of pneumonia. His ashes were buried at Sunrise and then later moved to a cemetery across the Kanawha River.

At the top of the trail, we found ourselves in a beautiful neighborhood of older homes, with Sunrise mansion on a bluff overlooking the city. Sunrise is privately owned and not open to the public, but you can stroll the grounds and get a sense of the property’s grandeur.

This is the rear entrance of Sunrise, the ‘back porch’ if you will! The front of the mansion overlooks downtown Charleston with sweeping views of the city.

Governor MacCorkle collected some of the stones for Sunrise during his travels and they are engraved with their place of origin. He named Sunrise after his boyhood home in Rockbridge County, VA; so you know we had to find the Virginia stone!

This trail has something for everyone: history, wildlife, natural beauty and even a ghost story if you’re up for that!

We loved our time on Carriage Trail and highly recommend it. It’s fairly convenient to I-77, I-64 and other major routes through Charleston. If you are just traveling through the area, stop nearby for a bite to eat (we recommend The Market or Lola’s on Bridge Road), visit the trail and recharge a little. Or stay, and explore all that Charleston has to offer.

For more on Sunrise Mansion and The Carriage Trail:

This is not a sponsored post. I’m simply linking to businesses that I have visited and enjoyed. They’ve been Arthurized, and I hope you will like them too.

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2021 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Hatfield & McCoy Blackberry Mountain Half Marathon Review – No Feudin’, Just Runnin’

“That’s an awful long way to drive for a race. I don’t know why y’all can’t find races that are closer to home.” – my 87 year old father-in-law

Settle in with an iced tea or other beverage of choice for this tale of mountain adventure. Bonus points if you’re sipping from a mason jar.

We’re always looking for ‘away games’ because the only thing better than race weekend is race weekend in a new locale. We learned of H&M through an online article and chose it because it offers hills for my husband and a historic route and unique finisher’s medal for me. We traveled with some adventurous friends, one of whom is a descendant of the McCoy family.

Williamson, WV/KY has just a few options for lodging, and those fill up over a year in advance of the race. Not to worry, there is a nice West Virginia State Parks Lodge nearby in Logan. It’s just over 30 miles away and an easy drive to Williamson. We found Chief Logan Lodge to be sparkling clean with beautiful, rustic architecture and friendly, accommodating staff. The views from the Lodge are amazing! We ate at the Lodge restaurant the first night and while the food was a disappointment, our server was fantastic and we had a window seat with a pretty, mountain view.

The second night there, we asked an employee where we should go for a nice dinner. He named Arby’s and Taco Bell in Logan. When pressed for a date night suggestion, he told us that we would fare better if we drove to Williamson, that “ever since they put in the by-pass, there’s no reason to stop in Logan.” His sad comment reminded me of Radiator Springs in the movie “Cars”.

Parking at the Lodge is convenient, which we appreciated as we hobbled back to our room after the race.  A post-race soak in their hot tub felt amazing.

The race expo was in a high school and was very well run. We were greeted by Devil Anse Hatfield and Ol’ Randal McCoy and had our picture made with them. Packet pick-up was efficient and we were able to try on our shirts and exchange one of them.

This race isn’t afraid to have some fun with stereotypes!

We shopped the expo for awhile and then headed to the pasta dinner in the cafeteria. When I registered for the race, I inquired about a gluten-free pasta option and I was told there would be one. There was a miscommunication and the very apologetic ladies running the kitchen did not know they were supposed to provide g-free pasta. They said there were other runners looking for it as well. We found a nearby steakhouse and ate dinner there.

On race morning, we drove to Williamson, parked and rode a shuttle bus to the start line at Food City just across the state line into Kentucky. The store was open for the runners to use the restroom and they had coffee available. Devil Anse and Ol’ Randal were there for photos; the people-watching was fantastic!

Photo credit: Michelle Bowles

The community pride is palpable here as is the Hatfield/McCoy family pride. When you meet a descendant of either family (and you will) they will announce that fact within the first few minutes of your conversation.

Photo credit: Michelle Bowles

The Full Marathon, Double Half and Blackberry Mountain Half all started from our location. None of the races have a time limit, and the announcer at the start said “you have all day to finish it, but we would prefer that you finish sooner!” Shots were fired (to begin the race, not another feud) and we were off!

We headed out onto US 119 under heavy fog, which gave way to sunny humidity. A quick double back and we were soon running on neighborhood roads. Folks along the race route sat on their porches enjoying their morning coffee, cheering and watching the parade of runners go by. After a few miles of rolling hills we began our ascent up Blackberry Mountain. Running gave way to walking this steep stretch of the race. The course was open to traffic, and we hopped in the ditch at one point to let a wide load through. Just a slight delay of game! Once we made our way down Blackberry Mountain, the rest of the course was mostly flat with occasional, small hills.

There were water stops and cheer stations every mile with cups of ice, popsicles, sports drink and cold towels. We appreciated all of it; it was SO hot! The water stops were hillbilly themed, some outrageously so.

There are loads of photo opportunities along the race route. We stopped off at the site where the McCoy cabin was burned down in a raid by the Hatfields, the cabin where the hog trial took place, visited the Hatfields Miniature Horses and passed the banks of the Tug River where the McCoys were killed at the Pawpaw trees. After crossing the Tug, we took a short jaunt through downtown Matewan, WV to the finish line. There was cold fruit on offer along with water and sports drink. Ice-cold watermelon never tasted so good!

Hog trial cabin

We rested awhile, then boarded the shuttle bus for the wild, mountainous ride back to Williamson. Our bus driver was so generous! She stopped at our parking lot, waited for us to get our shower bags, and drove us to the gym for showers. (We were glad that we packed towels and flip-flops in our shower bags because this is a gymnasium, not a spa.) Our driver was going to lunch, so she gave me her cell phone number in case we wanted a ride over to the finish line downtown. We’ve never experienced hospitality at a race like we did here!

After showering, we walked the few blocks to the finish line to find something to eat. Instead of the requisite post-race-cold-pizza-that-we-can’t-eat-anyway the H&M does things a little differently. Your bib is a coupon and you can choose from a list of restaurants that will honor it. We made our way over to 34:Ate which we chose for the Yelp reviews, and it exceeded our expectations. I ordered a Turkey Bacon Blackberry sandwich on a gluten free bun and gulped down (what seemed like) gallons of their peach tea.  The cost for my lunch was $1.50, plus tip.

Next, we strolled the downtown area which had rolled out the red carpet for its weekend guests. The shops were open, there was a car show and craft vendors on both sides of the street. We briefly visited the coal house and then it was time for us to cheer on our friends as they finished the Double Half Marathon.

It’s difficult for me to put into words how unique this race is. I think it’s something you just have to experience for yourself. Why should you add Hatfield & McCoy races to your short list? For the opportunity to be a part of something special, and because the community pride in these mountains is the same pride of home we all share. The area truly is God’s Country, and these hospitable Mountaineers want to show it off a little while showing you a good time.  This race is hilly, hot, humid and ALL heart.

Visit here for more information on the race:

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