COMMUNITY: Lessons on the road to 99

40 down, 59 to go

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Editor’s note: Daren Schumaker and Dennis Lee are crossing all of Iowa’s 99 counties, raising money for the American Cancer Society. The two have completed 40 counties, the latest this trip across Winneshiek County last month. The two are planning another run this weekend.

By Daren Schumaker, community contributor

It is easy to take things for granted. Family, friends, and other things that you hold close to your heart are often things that are taken for granted.

After injury set us back for nearly a year, it became readily apparent that we had taken our ability to regularly run across a county for granted.

Injuries and work got in the way. Life got in the way. Soon a week turned into a month, and the months turned into a year. With each day it became easier to let our dream of crossing each of Iowa’s 99 counties die. We found other things to do. We didn’t talk as often as we had in the past and our friendship weakened to a certain extent.

How is one to get back on track after wandering aimlessly for so long?

The answer is quite simple — start moving in the right direction. On Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, at 7 a.m. we set off in the 8-degree morning air to mend a year’s worth of wandering and get back on track in Winneshiek County.

The first several miles of our run were silent. As we ran through Ridgeway and turned west onto Highway 9 we began to talk more. We settled into a rhythm of sorts. We plodded up a gradual uphill for several miles before cruising down a nearly two-mile downhill into Decorah, where we took a brief break before charging up a steep hill.

Challenge after challenge, onward we ran. We turned west onto Old Stage Coach Road and climbed a hill that never seemed to end before running through stands of trees, rock faces and curves. We ended west of Waukon — traveling 26.45 miles in 3:55:43.

Life isn’t easy. It is easy to take things for granted. The path that is going to get you where you want to be isn’t always going to be the easiest.

More than anything, after running across Winneshiek County, we realized that friendship is important. Family is important. Health is important.

Don’t take your heath for granted and, by doing so, take your family and friends for granted. Make sure that you get healthy so that you can maintain the relationships that you have for as long as you are able to do so.

Things aren’t always easy, but the only way to get where you want to be is to start in the direction you want to go. Life is too short to wait, so get moving.

Inspiration through perspiration.

  • To make a donation or follow the team, check out Team 99 Counties on Facebook or at

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