4 Runs In South Central

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The South Boston Raceway was part of NASCAR's Nationwide series until 2000. Racers that have taken part in the Saturday night events include Jeff Burton, Elliott Sadler, Stacy Compton and the Bodine brothers.

The short track serves as a training track for many NASCAR stars. The tight corners create more opportunities for passing and maneuvering than longer tracks.

The close quarters lead to lots of scrapping and, in some races, lots of crashes. The bent-up 36 car actually finished third in this race.

I made a quick stop at the South Boston Farmer's Market. I bought a tomato plant that was rather bushy and already had two nearly ripe tomatoes on it.

The White Oak Mountain Wildlife Management Area is more of a plateau than an actual mountain.

The area covers about 3,000 acres, two-thirds of which is forests.

The auction in AltaVista. A Korean War era helmet went for over $1,000. I bought a train set for $35 and some WWI toy soldiers for $5.

AltaVista was established in 1905 during the construction of the Tidewater Railway between Giles County and Sewell's Point in Norfolk.

Tidewater Railway became part of the Virginian Railway in 1907. It hauled bituminous coal from the mountains to Hampton Roads. You can see part of the old Lane Furniture plant to the right.

The rails are currently operated by Norfolk Southern.

Danville became a tobacco trading center in the mid 1880s. Many of the old buildings remain. Some are being converted to offices, stores and condos.

The Riverwalk Trail in Danville covers about 8.5 miles and connects with other trails.

The trail follows the Dan River. The 214-mile river flows through parts of North Carolina and Virginia.

The riverwalk hosts a number of races. It is also popular with cyclists.

Danville had been the home of Dan River Mills. While parts of the buildings still stand, it started to struggle in the 1970s and completely closed in 2006.

In the little Halifax County town of Scottsburg. The town has a population of 145. The county has a population of 36,000.

Just outside of the Staunton River State Park.

The 2,400-acre park is along the Dan and Staunton rivers. There are cabins you can rent along with an Olympic size pool. It opened in 1936 as one of the original six Virginia State Parks.

In addition to the Dan and Staunton Rivers, you can access the state's largest lake, Buggs Island Lake (also called John H. Kerr Reservoir). The fresh water lake covers more than 50,000 acres. The Dan is pictured here.

One of the biggest challenges of the overall goal is conquering the Southwest, the hilly and rural area about seven hours away from Northern Virginia. The plan is to go to the area for a week in September and knock out as many of the dozen plus runs as I can.

My south central trip was a way to get an idea of what it will take to do two and three runs per day. I did four runs in about 24 hours.

Here are some of my learnings:

  • Starting out the day with a hilly run isn’t the brightest idea. My first run was in the White Oak Mountain Wildlife Management Area. That word “Mountain” should have tipped me off that it wouldn’t be the flattest of courses. The path in Pittsylvania County was atop a mountain range with a bunch of ups and downs, but no severe climbing.
  • Resting between runs should probably not involve standing up for a couple of hours at an outside auction in the scorching heat. I bought an old train set and some WWI toy soldiers at the sale. I’m still kicking myself for not bidding more on the Dr. Pepper wall clock.
  • The town of Altavista is one word – as opposed to the two-worded Buena Vista. The company that became Lane Furniture started in Altavista in 1912. It originally made cedar chests. The town in Campbell County has absolutely nothing to do with the deceased search engine with the same name. It does have a nice, flat path along the Roanoke River, although you have to climb a good number of steps to get over the railroad tracks.
  • Buying a case of water at the local IGA is a really good investment.
  • The third run of the day shouldn’t take place until the cooler late afternoon-early night time. While the Riverwalk Trail in Danville was mostly in the shade, after the first mile, the mid-afternoon heat definitely started to get to me. I never quite made it to the science center to check out the butterflies or the digital dome. And I was definitely too tired to appreciate the glory of the world-famous tank museum. The riverwalk itself was nice, although a bit more signage for us easily confused outsiders would have been appreciated. On a Saturday afternoon, the town of about 43,000 seemed pretty dead. Danville was the home of textile manufacturer Dan River Mills, as well as many tobacco warehouses. Today’s top employer is Goodyear Tires.
  • If you are staying in Halifax County and decide to go to the area’s main event – the Bojangles 300 – buy the ear protectors. While the early races at the South Boston Speedway are bearable, when the real NASCAR cars start whipping around the 4/10-mile oval, you need to protect your ears, expect to go deaf or go home.
  • If you bring a big, green bushy plant into your hotel room at the America’s Best Value Inn, the staff will keep track of your comings and goings the rest of the night. It was just a tomato plant from the farmer’s market – really.
  • The day after a three-run day, you aren’t going to quickly rise and shine. As tired and hungry as you might be, the free hotel breakfast of reheated gravy and biscuits will have that “no thanks, I’ll just have some juice” look to it.
  • Invest in sneakers specifically for trails. While the trail at the Stauton River State Park in Halifax County was relatively flat, the rocks and roots took a toll on my feet. Bug spray would also be a good addition. Twisty rural trails makes the GPS on your phone pretty useless. According to it, I went 1.5 miles one way on the trail and nearly 2 getting back.
  • Getting in some two-a-day and three-a-day training would help. Doing more trails and hills would make sense. So would dropping 10-15 pounds.

84 runs down, 50 to go.

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