Over the last few days, as Diane Van Deren has neared the Coastal Plain homestretch of her trek across North Carolina, she’s asked those familiar with the region, “What am I looking at? What’s eastern North Carolina like?”

The answers have varied, but there’s been one constant. After noting the flatness, the heat, the agriculture, whatever, each person has added, “Oh, and the people are extremely friendly.”

Saturday, reports MST Endurance Run expedition coordinator Chuck Millsaps, the locals didn’t disappoint.

Nearing the midnight conclusion of their 50-plus mile day in rural Nash County, neighbors noticed some unusual activity around the White Oak Hill Free Will Baptist Church. A Nash County sheriff, a state trooper and Pastor Tim responded to find Van Deren and her weary entourage. After explaining what they were up to, reports Millsaps, “We were warmly received and pastor Tim even unlocked the gym bathrooms for us.

“Camped at church for two hours,” Millsaps adds. “Awoke with the rooster crow at 2:30 this morning all set for a 65-mile day.”