One Day with Marion Karr on Surf2TheSurf

By Lenny Poage

Pictures: Dave Tolley and Mike Adams

There's a line in "Tombstone" about always backing your brother's play. No matter how crazy it seems, you should have your bro's back. That sums up the feeling of the Huntington, WV crew (HOSS) going to skate with Marion Karr for one day of his Surf2TheSurf. Marion was planning to skate the entire width of North Carolina, 496 miles, to raise money and awareness for Hinds Feet Farm, a rehabilitation camp for those with traumatic brain injury. Many of us in Huntington had, at that point, only dabbled in doing any distance skating; I myself had done hardly anything except slalom, cruising around and bombing the occasional hill for years. Nonetheless, when a friend and brother-in-arms, Dave Tolley, stopped by my house and mentioned how it would be good for us to go down to North Carolina and skate with Marion for part of his journey, I immediately was on-board. It sounded crazy, but the best times often start that way.

Several weeks later, The HOSS Crew of David Harris, "Old School" Evan Tolley, Dave "1998" Tolley and I were on our way. Our plans were to meet Marion in Buies Creek, NC. Aside from that, we didn't know how to meet up with him. We first went to the Fire Station, where Marion was staying. No one was around. When we got in touch with the support crew, we found out that Marion was still a few miles outside of town. We immediately hopped back into the truck and met Marion to skate the last couple miles of the day.

It was great to see Marion coming into town. The 90+ temperatures and high humidity were definitely taking their toll on him. He was physically and mentally exhausted, but was still happy to see us and said that helped him push the last little bit to the Fire Station.

After we were there, Marion's support crew said they found it best to let him "decompress" at the end of the day before talking to him too much. We made plans to meet for dinner to discuss arrangements for the next day, then went on to check into our motel.

That night at dinner we laughed, swapped stories and in general just had a great time with friends. Marion and crew told us several lessons this experience had taught them about distance skating such as the importance of reflective clothing and flashing bicycle lights and not to have the support vehicles too close to the skaters. It was best to drive a few miles up the road as opposed to following right behind the skaters. Too often cars would want to pass the SAG (Support and Gear) Wagon and cut immediately in, which caused unsafe situations for the skaters. Also, skating near the Cape Fear River Basin in June required early mornings to avoid being stuck skating in the extreme heat and humidity of the mid-afternoon. We made plans to meet at 5:30 AM the next day and called it a night.

That night we were awakened by thunderstorms passing through the area. Honestly, we had no clue if Marion would skate in the rain; so we simply hoped for dry conditions by the time we had to get up.

This was not the case. When we woke up it was still raining pretty hard. We discussed what to do and received a call from one of the support crew that Marion was already on the road. That decision was made.

We met with Marion on the side of a highway in the pouring rain. Dave Tolley volunteered to drive the HOSS truck for the first leg while Evan, David and I skated with Marion. We skated as the rain diminished and the sky started to lighten up. After a few miles, I opted to drive the truck and let Dave get some miles in. As the day grew brighter and warmer, they kept skating. Several miles down the road, Evan and I traded so I could skate some more. Marion and David Harris kept pace with one another while Dave Tolley and I stuck together, pushing and encouraging one another. As the heat and humidity of a North Carolina June really started to kick in, I started to question the wisdom of taking on this challenge, but Dave and I distracted ourselves by pointing out road-kill at the side of the road and listening to how different our wheels sounded on different types of pavement.

After a while, I had enough and Evan picked me up in the HOSS truck. Dave Tolley got in the truck a few minutes after me. David Harris stuck with Marion another 15 or so miles before we decided it was time to head back to West Virginia.

All said and done, each of the Tolleys and I skated between 15-20 miles with Marion, while David Harris skated closer to 35 miles. We all met up and said our good-byes to Marion and crew and parted company. Marion went on to skate a total of 72 miles that day to Elizabethtown, NC.

We all made it back to WV in one piece with some great stories and some great camaraderie to show for it. We're all still skating, still planning other trips and slalom races. And when the need arises, we're all there to help one another back our brothers' play.




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