One Day with Marion Karr on
By Lenny Poage
Pictures: Dave Tolley and Mike
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
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
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
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
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
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'