12 hr update

(10 days to go)

What a start!

The first 12 hours are done.

If this were a short ultramarathon,

they would probably be nearly done driving home from the race…

Well pleased with a long day on their feet.

But this is the HOTS.

They have lived a lifetime today,

and they have only just begun!

The beach start was an instant classic.

Filling their vials of seawater

that they must deliver to the bluff at Castle Rock

in less than 10.5 days…

The runners had to get in the water to fill their vials…

Most were tentative about submerging their feet in the ocean,

concerned about also filling their shoes with the fine grain white sand found in Destin.

This is a journey run, starting off with poor foot care is a recipe for suffering!

One runner charged right into the sea, fully clothed.

Another, not usually known for his brilliance, impressed us all when

he removed his shoes at the boardwalk, and after wading in bare feet, used the public foot washing station to clean his feet before putting his shoes on and making his way North with no concern of mismanaged feet.

The sad fact is, he was the only one of the 54 to think of that perfect plan!

Just a mile and a half in, they started the 3.5 mile traverse of the mid-bay bridge over Choctawhatchee Bay. A highlight was seeing pods of dolphins jumping from the sea, encouraging the adventurers.

Niceville, Florida lived up to its name.

The heat had only just started to ramp up before the last runners made their way through,

able to secure any supplies they thought they might need.

The McDonald’s there was hailed as “perfectly placed!”

But then came the first 16 mile sand oven of their journey….

As I write, most of the field has cleared the first of many deserts on this route.

Between Niceville and Mossy Head, lies a barren stretch of government land

without anything hospitable to the journey runner.

It is a stretch with zero shade on the road,

and today, the feels like temperature hit 100 degrees.

Only a few prepared well enough.

Even the early leader said he underestimated his liquid needs

and was barely able to keep himself together the last 4 miles

to the interstate crossing oasis.

Those who blasted off too hard this morning paid the high toll,

sprawled out in the sand on the side of the highway,

light headed and cursing their inability to escape the fire ants

that tormented them in the only shade they could find.

They wished they’d carried double the water

and gone half the speed!

As of the 12 hour check in,

most of the top 10 had been able to rest in air conditioning,

refuel for the evening,

and head out in the late afternoon sun past the 50 km point of the race.

Time will tell whether their place near the front of the race

was due to good training, experience and execution,

or crippling testosterone poisoning…!

Pushing at the start of a multiday rarely predicts success…

The middle of the pack, (all 30 of them!!!)

were in the oasis of the travel stop or motel in Mossy Head.

No doubt thanking their god for the underappreciated invention of air conditioning.

There are few other hobbies,

(maybe the people who hang out in attics in the summer for fun?)

that can show as much emotion about air conditioning

as journey runners can.

These mid-packers are resting and preparing

for the next 16 mile stretch with no services….

that they will have to face in the relatively cooler hours of the night.

They have miles to cover!

The tail end of the pack is yet to reach Mossy Head.

They are a mix of cagey veterans.

Not the fastest in the field,

but they know when to push and when to ease up.

They are aware they need to keep a 36.5 miles per 24 hours pace

for each day to stay in the race.

They all know they can keep that up…

but there is non-trivial matter of willing it to happen!

Our 3 drops in the first half day might seem to have been due to the blow struck by the high heat…but in reality these were less related to the conditions and route than they were to runners who came into the race at less than 100%, hoping they could make things work. Without things going perfectly, a finish was unlikely… but these are HOTS runners, they want to see what they can do, even if they have little chance of success! No doubt they will be back at full strength before long.

Just after this update,

leader Jim Winn will have run across Florida in well under a day,

and grabbed his resupply for the nighttime push from Florala through the next long stretch with no aid.

He has a long, thin line of HOTS runners on the roads behind him.

What a start!

Only 10 days to go!

Categories: HOTS 2024