I like to use running as a vehicle to see new places. Unlike the Esquire, Robert JARRIN (Dubai, Cape Town et al), the places I end up visiting are eclectic pockets of Americana. And, unfortunately when I travel for work, I have little time to run. Such was the case over the past few days during my trip to Grundy, Virginia. Grundy sits on the crossroads of three states; Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia - in the heart of coal country. Life here is vastly different than most of the places I’ve ever been. Everyone is extremely hard working, good natured, faithful to the Man upstairs and openly hospitable. Before and after school, kids coon hunt with coon hounds and fish the surrounding creeks. Weekends are spent 4-wheeling across the surrounding countryside. In their thick Appalachian drawls, families will tell you that coal has been good to them. Mountains give birth to it before mile-long trains shuffle the product across America. The work is tough and dangerous, but quite profitable. Coal builds towns and coal dictates the economy. Here, coal is king.
After an 8 hour drive, I got into Grundy on Sunday afternoon and the crew and I immediately went to work interviewing subjects for a potential documentary. I ate little on the drive down and soon became ravenous as the interviews ticked past 8pm. By 9pm we were starving. We finally wrapped, but I wanted to get in a 9 mile run. Wishful thinking. While my colleagues dined at a diner, I tore off up the dark empty street intent on getting this out of the way quickly. Because I was so hungry, I soon opted to nix the idea of a 9 miler and simply run 6…then 5. I was super starving by the time I limped into the Comfort Inn parking lot and inhaled the sandwich that awaited my arrival. I then had to do a bit more work but when I finished I dined on pancakes. The next morning I was up just after 5am and we pushed ahead until 9pm. On Tuesday I was shooting before 6am. We headed back towards Washington after lunch. I use to stress about missing runs while away, but it really isn’t practical when I’m on shoots. Sure, I could get up at 4am, but then I’m pretty worthless come early afternoon. The trouble is - I really enjoy running in places I’ve never been…guess I’ll have to wait until I am on vacation.