M IS FOR MARATHON
Elaine Doll-Dunn, Psy.D.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been together for twenty-six years. We first met on a chilly pre-dawn morning in the wispy mist drifting lazily off Pactola Dam. It was dark, it was cold, and I was frightened. Surrounded by friends and strangers alike, I felt alone. Alone and at the mercy of an unknown, awe inspiring, relentless antagonist. We began together then, two novices on a new adventure, the future uncertain, the journey unsettled, the outcome unknown.

That first year we spent four hours and forty-four minutes together; it was a painful and emotional experience and I vowed never again to put my self through that kind of mental stress, emotional margin, and physical anguish.

But a year passed, I forgot the pain, I forgot the fear, and I dismissed the subconscious foreboding. Instead, the addictive lure of your seductive slopes drove me again to Pactola, commanded my presence, and eased me back onto the Armageddon of exhaustion…mental and physical. And so it has continued. That first tentative experiment grown to a long and secure relationship. I know so well your ups and downs, your twists and turns, the face, as it were, of a challenge to grow and change.
Since 1979 we have met once a year on a given Sunday… spending now as much as four, four and one half, even over five hours in each other’s company. No surprises anymore; the mutual respect has made for an interesting friendship.
With you I have learned that risk promotes growth, pain can be managed, and endurance defines life. I know that hills, and curves, and speed bumps are not impediments but stepping stones to greater self-awareness and a preparation for new and enriching challenges.

I have come to appreciate the value of training, the comfort of familiarity, and the security of knowing one’s self; personal power is transferable. I’ve enjoyed our metamorphosis; as we’ve changed names, shape, and even topography, the only sameness in the parts we both play in this amazing duet. You challenge, I respond. You endure, I persevere.

Together we‘ve dealt with the bad times and celebrated the good times. You’ve facilitated a network of incredible people from all over the world, and given me the opportunity to know more intimately those in my own back yard! You even provided the venue for an exciting courtship that resulted in a unique marathon wedding and a marriage destined for “the long run.”
Today marks one-hundred-four times that my Asics and I have traveled this distance, twenty-six of those journeys with you. This day we spun memories of six-hundred-eighty-one-point-two miles together, remembering people, places, pain and pride; savoring sunshine, scenery, and speed. A Marathon of Marathons on the Marathon of Marathons. You’re still my favorite, Mount Rushmore Marathon-nee-Black Hills Marathon, thanks for the trip.

(Elaine Doll-Dunn is the only person to have run all 26 of the Mount Rushmore Marathons).

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