Richard Carreon is both a friend and a constituent. Despite being from a different political parties, we have great conversations about how to better our community. I am thankful for his support over the past few years.
I was chatting with Richard a few months ago about running, blogging, and his love of all things technology, including drones. He suggested that I run the perimeter of my assembly district. He volunteered to crew for me and record parts of the run using his drones. How could I say no to that? Once we decided on a date (September 4th), a cause (Suicide Prevention Awareness Month) and a non-profit to fundraise for (Forgotten Not Gone: https://forgottennotgone.org/), we began to plan in earnest. Richard's company - Line of Sight, Line of Mind - would be a sponsor, as would the Nevada Veterans Association, and my political campaign.
I started working on the route, using the very nifty route planning feature on Strava. Assembly District 9 is located in southwest Las Vegas and looks like this (in white):
You can't really run the true perimeter of the district because parts of the west and south boundaries are actually in the middle of nowhere in the mountains. Ultimately, I devised a perimeter route that would equate approximately to about a marathon, or 26.2 miles. I had not worked with Richard on a project before. He is former military (Army) and the skills he learned there were certainly on display in his preparation for the event. He produced two very detailed documents in writing: an Operations Planner and a Risk Assessment (examples of each below):
I quickly came to appreciate that this is the kind of stellar work product you will get when you ask an accomplished former military member to help you plan an event. For my part, I crafted turn-by- turn directions, both for myself and the crew. We mostly stuck to this route, with a few changes along the way.
As the event drew closer, my ever loyal friend and constituent, James Zygadlo, put together this promotional flyer for social media:
James also put together some graphics for me to preload in my Twitter draft folder so that I could more easily provide updates along the route. I didn't end up using all of them, but it was nice to have them ready to go so I could quickly provide updates on the move. Here they are:
Richard and I drove the proposed course a few days before the event to scope it out and resolve any proposed challenges. Of course, we had to meet at one of Assembly District 9's finest donut shops to fuel up for our excursion because you can't go on an empty stomach:
I also made a short video to promote the event on social media:
I was delighted to learn that a few folks from Forgotten Not Gone had agreed to accompany me on the journey. We all met at Parkway Tavern at 5:15am and aimed to take off around 5:45am, just as the sun was rising, which would allow Richard to capture some good drone footage as we headed out. It meant an early alarm clock, but I knew the earlier I started, the earlier I would get done, which was important because the anticipated high temperate that day was well over 100 degrees.
We ended up taking off just after 6am. James joined me, as did Peter, Kelley, and Clint from Forgotten Not Gone. They, of course, showed up in their awesome bikes, which I knew were sure to draw a lot of attention along the way. We started our journey on old faithful, the 215 beltway path, which I had run so many times before.
Here are some photos from the beginning of our run along the 215 beltway path, all taken by Clint. I don't have many photos of me actually running, so I was thankful for these.
As we excited the 215 beltway, we began to head south:
Our next main stop was a hidden gem in Assembly District 9, a slightly uphill bike/running path between Trilogy and the Summit. (This is the same path where I ran my half-marathon on Day 6 of the Lucky 13 Virtual Ultra Endurance Challenge.) Our arrival there put us at about the 4 mile mark, and provided two hydration stops, one before heading up the bike path, and one on the return of the 2.6 mile roundtrip. Richard's son, Dawnavon, ran part of this stretch with me and Richard had more fun flying the drone to capture some footage.
Our next major stop was at Mesa Park, one of my favorite parks. At this point, we were more than 8 miles in and I still felt pretty good, though I recognized that there were many miles still to go.
I also had a chance to record a short video while at Mesa Park:
Richard broke out one of his drones as well for some advanced level filming:
We left Mesa Park and headed towards Faiss Park, another one of my favorites. I was delighted to learn that my friend, Justin Jones, was going to run with me for most of that segment. He had actually parked at Faiss Park and had run towards us to meet up. Some action shots below:
There is a water park and aquatics center right next to Faiss Park, where we arrived about 11 miles in. Man did that look tempting! We took a bit of a break at Faiss Park, including helping a gentleman with a dead car battery, and then we headed out for the southwest border of the district. At this point, Clint from Forgotten Not Gone had to head back to the start due to some other obligations that day, but Peter and Kelley pressed on, indicating that they wanted to do the whole course with me!
Heading south from Faiss Park, I soon encountered stretches of South Fort Apache road that did not have sidewalks. Rather than run on the very narrow shoulder of the road, I chose to mostly run in the dirt and gravel off the road. Not ideal, but safety comes first! Soon enough, we had reached Blue Diamond road and I began to head east for about a half mile or so, before making the northbound turn. It was starting to get hotter out and the heat was starting to get to me, making the periodic cooling towels and hydration stops more crucial.
The next stop was the house of my friend and constituent, Jeoff Carlson, who lives in a unique part of my district, where the properties are rather large and feel fairly remote. In fact, if he lived across the street, he would be in a neighboring district. It was nice to catch up with Jeoff and his sister for awhile and to change my shirt and shoes. I probably stayed longer than I should have given the increasing temperatures, but it was nice to have a break. With 18 miles in my rearview mirror and the sun and heat to torment me, I knew things would start to get tough from here on out.
As I made the turn back on to northbound Durango, things started to get tough. No matter what I am doing, there is always a wall around the 20 mile mark that you just have to break through. This day would be no different. Your mind is telling you to stop, that you have done enough, but you need to find that override switch in your brain and fight through the desire to stop. Seeing one of my wife's campaign signs provided motivation as well!
When I reached Ikea, I knew the end was near. It was also nice to see my firm's billboard out there on the course. That gave me an extra boost. Although we didn't have many miles to go, I knew these miles would be some of the toughest because northbound Durango was uphill, there was a lot of traffic, and there was zero relief from the sun at this point. I just kept telling myself to stay the course until I could make the westbound turn on Flamingo, where Richard would be waiting with hydration, but it wasn't easy. I ran out of water about a mile from the turn, but just toughed it out, knowing the end was near. Peter and Kelley remained troopers, never complaining about the slow speed (for them) or having to deal with heavy traffic on main roads.
As predicted, the last couple miles northbound on Durango, before turning west on Flamingo, were tough. It was definitely the hardest part of the run for me. I took one last video while on the run. I think you can hear the fatigue in my voice.
The Forgotten Not gone bikes drew a lot of attention at the gas station which served as our final hydration stop. Many customers stopped to ask questions and I think they recruited another veteran or two to come ride with them in the future. That made my heart leap with joy because they are doing such great work in the community!
From there, we headed west down Flamingo for the last couple of miles. As we arrived at the finish, at Parkway Tavern where it had all started, my watch showed 25.75 miles. I decided to put in another half mile to make it an even marathon. Here is the photo from the finish as well as the final screen shots of the effort. After we finished, Peter was kind enough to let me try his bike out. Man, was it nice. No strain on your back and very relaxing! A very nice change from the traditional bike.
Richard put together this pretty awesome video of our effort. It includes many photos and the really cool drone footage along the route.
I am proud that we were able to raise nearly $500 for Forgotten Not Gone. They are doing important work and it is imperative that they be able to reach as many veterans as they can. Thank you to all those who donated, including Sally Yeager, Jim Davis, Brian Reeder, Felicia Ortiz, and Bita Yeager. If this journey at all inspired you, you can still donate at their website. No amount is too small to make a difference: https://forgottennotgone.org/
PS: If you thought Richard would just leave things alone once we finished, you would be wrong. There was, of course, an After Action Report/Improvement Plan to make sure we learned from any mistakes for future endeavors of this nature. You have to give the man credit for being thorough!!
Steve Yeager is an ultra runner who rarely turns down a challenge. When he is not out putting miles on his shoes, he practices law and serves as the Speaker in the Nevada State Legislature. Steve lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with his very understanding and patient wife, Bita.