Punxsutawney Phil uncharacteristically predicted an early Spring this year. This was because he didn’t see his shadow in the series of snow storms that have been hitting Pennsylvania this weekend. They were so significant that we almost decided not to go to the race at all since we had attended the festival in years past.
At 7:30 this morning, we saw that we would have a safe window of travel and carefully set out on a 2 hour drive to Punxsutawney. Although there was some snow and wet road conditions all went well and we arrive in town in time to warm up and check out where the cute groundhog makes his home most of the year. We saw him deep within his burrow in the local library. I was happy just to see his eye and continued to get ready.Jimmy the Eye shares our good fortune just before the race:
One of the advertised features of this race was having Punxsutawny Phil and his handler, John Griffiths, at the start of the race. I spotted them heading toward the start line as we finished our warmup jog around a couple of nearby blocks. I hustled back to the car to drop off my hearing aids and told Terri I’d be right back to join her. I assumed the handler would be holding onto Phil for a few photos before the run, but as I rounded the corner, I saw Phil standing the handler’s shoulders with his forepaws gripping onto Mr. Griffiths’ top hat! Terri was right beside them the handler shifted a bit to allow us to get some great photos of Phil. That was so very crazy, because Phil was so very comfortable up there, and it reminded me of our cat Birbanto and how he needs to ride up on our shoulders around our home. I assumed that Mr. Griffiths would have had him in a gentle but firm grip the whole time he was outside since Phil is wild animal acclimated to people. What a thrill for the start of the race! Apparently Phil does this trick all the time; I found this photo on NPR.
The run was very cold and the “trek” up to Gobbler’s Knob was quite a hill, much like Struble Hill going up Nittany Mountain.
This little run in the snow was pretty hard for me today and I may have more energy to update it with our finishing times later. I really wanted to share the photos and what a great time we had. It was pretty in the snow and the 20 some participants were all very pleasant folks. It was an enjoyable race with some terrific swag. No t-shirts but check out the slideshow above to see the great stuff!