vol stare toad race
runners are hearing this from the locals all along the route;
“just be glad you werent here last week.”
yes, it is true.
last week was hot.
this week it is only toying around 100.
last week was really hot!
even today the runners’ luck held.
the temperature in kimball (at the 300 mile mark) came up just short of 110.
but the leaders were still 100 miles away
enjoying temperatures 10 degrees cooler!
see, 100 isnt so bad after all.
at this point,
after 3 days in the sun
the runners are somewhat inured to the high temperatures.
but it is a different ballgame when it gets a few more degrees over 100.
evaporative cooling becomes nearly impossible.
the evaporation cools the air by transferring heat into us!
tennessee in july can be downright cruel.
the race has taken on the form of an ever stretching line of runners.
yesterday the front of the line came out of parsons
climbed over the cretaceous hills that turn the tennessee river north
crossed the river at perryville
then climbed up thru linden
and mounted the south highland rim plateau by way of 16 mile hill to hohenwald
then crossed the plateau and started back down the other side towards hampshire,
down in the nashville basin…
today the main body of the line followed the leaders over that terrain
while the leaders were dropping down into the nashville basin
and starting across it,
going thru hampshire, columbia, culleoka, and lewisburg.
normally that low bottomland would be among the hottest places in tennesse
but today that distinction was in the valley bottoms on the east side of the cumberland plateau
crossing the cumberland is still about a day away.
(something to look forward to!)
geographically tonight is a huge night for all the vol staters.
the leaders have to get thru shelbyville and wartrace
to climb back up on the eastern highland rim before the heat settles in the nashville basin tomorrow.
more than 100 miles behind,
the trailing end of the pack
are still in the mississippi river alluvial plain heading south towards lexington!!
they must make the turn in lexington
and start east towards parsons and the cretaceous hills before the next checkin.
oprah will make it.
but there were 8 runners behind her at checkin.
they have ground to make up before dawn.
they must get to the turn in lexington by morning checkin,
or start the long ride to the rock in the meat wagon!
for them this is going to be a difficult night.
at the front john is 10 miles ahead at 212 miles in wheel,
while johan is just leaving lewisburg.
steve is another 12 miles back at 190
between the nutt house and mooresville.
paul had to cut peter loose,
and now peter is only a mile ahead of ariela’s women’s division leading 172.
abby has cut her deficit to 9 miles at 163 coming into hampshire.
of course after hampshire she faces the dreaded hills between hampshire and cross bridges that ariela is nearing the end of.
going into the third night there are still 106 runners in the race.
8 of them are staring at oprahs back
with an ultimatum to meet by morning.
but everyone has been stretched to their limit at this point.
the sleep deprivation
long stretches without food or water.
the fatigue has penetrated to every fiber of muscle
knees and hips feel as if they have been lubricated with sand
feet are bruised and blistered
eyes have that squint of too much sun and not enough sleep.
the only thing that keeps the legs moving is force of will.
the vol staters have long since passed the point where the legs tell them that nothing is left.
and their answer has been;
“that’s a shame… right, left, right…”
the road is lonely
the road is hard.
those who wish to conquer it are going to have to dig deep into reserves that most of us never call on…
most of us would never want to.