COMMUNITY: Reality hits Team 99 Counties

JR Ogden
Published: January 5 2014 | 5:00 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:38 am in

Editor’s note: Daren Schumaker and Dennis Lee are attempting to run across Iowa’s 99 counties, raising money for the American Heart Association. They have completed 49 counties.

By Daren Schumaker, community contributor

Reality. What is real?

To some of us, what we believe is real is only a dim resemblance of what truly is real. In fact, many of us can alter what we perceive to be real with only our thoughts. How many of us have seen what we thought was a flying saucer or a ghost only to realize we had instead seen a weather balloon or a bedsheet in the breeze? The fact of the matter is, to a certain extent, perception molds reality.

On Dec. 15, Team 99 Counties experienced such a bending of reality. We were going to reach a milestone, the halfway point of our quest — by running our 49th county. We arrived at the western edge of Decatur County in south central Iowa and departed on our eastward journey at 10 a.m. Before long we entered Grand River, quickly realizing we had passed through and stopped there earlier in the year (while heading home after crossing Ringgold County).

We climbed hills, ran into yet another east wind and crossed Interstate 35 and Highway 169. Shortly after crossing Highway 169, we reached the midpoint of our 49th county — the actual halfway point. Reality set in. To finish, we “only” have to repeat what we’ve already done.


The remainder of our run was relatively uneventful absent nearly being attacked by four dogs at the same time (from two different farms located across the road from each other) and dancing through Garden Grove toward the county line. There were hills, there was cold and there was a milestone.

We crossed Decatur County in 3:37:33 — running a total of 26.2 miles.

Quite the accomplishment, we had finally ... wait. Hold on just one minute. Team 99 Counties — 99 counties, divided by two means the halfway point will be in the middle of our 50th county, not the 49th. Reality bites.

When what you perceive to be real clashes with what truly is real, the truth always wins. We had convinced ourselves we were halfway done. We noted the spot where we passed the halfway point. When the reality of our mathematical blunder set in, there was only one thing to do — refocus and keep moving.

Reality and perceptions can be dangerous in life, and especially dangerous with regard to one’s health. In today’s world of airbrushed photos and social media-based relationships, it is easy to hide from reality. The danger in doing so is that the truth always will prevail. Don’t put your head in the sand and ignore the facts. Take charge of your life before the doctor slaps you in the face with the reality that you’ve been ignoring.

Take a good look at yourself. What do you want to be real? What goals do you have? Take that first step. Mold your own reality, literally one step at a time. It isn’t going to be easy, but the best things in life never are. Whether your goal is to walk to the end of the street and back, drop a few pounds, prevent future medical problems, or run a marathon, each journey starts the same — by deciding to create your own reality rather than simply dreaming about it and wishing it to be true.

Inspiration through perspiration. Become active or make a donation to the American Heart Association to help fight heart disease.

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