What a difference a day makes.

Just a day ago, 54 adventurous souls

got off the bus at the beach.

They were fresh, felt good…

with fuel gauges jammed on FULL.

After 24 hours on the road,

not a single one of them is fresh any more.

As the sun came up this morning,

almost all of them would have been on the road.

Happy to see the light,

but also not wanting to say goodbye to the cooler temperatures

and lighter traffic that night provides.

Their eyes are squinting with fatigue,

Their muscles are hot and stiff.

Their skin is caked with salt.

Their feet are *seriously* questioning

“Just what in the heck is going on here!?”

7 of the 54 have succumbed to the challenge.

Day 1 took too much out of them.

They contemplated what 9 more days like this would mean…

They made that dreaded call.

But 47 runners are still on the road!

They are focused on crossing the divide to the next re-supply.

They are doing what they can, with what they have.

They are ready to adapt, and overcome.

Their bodies may not be fresh,

but their minds are resolute.

What can I do in the next hour?

Do I need to push til lunch and then rest in the afternoon heat?

Can I team up with someone to share encouragement and insight?

By this evening, they will all have done a mighty thing,

They’ll have crossed the Florida panhandle in less than a day and a half.

The Gulf will be a world they barely remember.

The sand gnats and fire ants,

along with the sun,

have become their constant nemeses.

But Florida is only the first portion of their crossing of the Coastal Plain.

The terrain and topography,

along with the pine forests,

insects, and wildlife,

will remain similar for another 100 miles.

And so too, the communities they pass through…

Small towns, with populations spread thin by agriculture.

Last night, at least one small town church took it upon themselves

to set up an angel station for the runners in the middle of

an 18 mile stretch with no services.

I am sure the joy and appreciation was palpable,

a tear or two was shed…

When exhausted runners limped over a hill and saw a church porch

with happy people, ready to share some support.

Cold water and an excited ear to listen to stories from the road…

“You started WHERE?”

The long, lonely night is forgotten,

friendships are formed over mutual appreciation.

Footsteps are reinvigorated after social interaction.

These runners are not the same people they were yesterday.

They are being forged into their best selves.

Strong, capable, ready to adapt.

Ready to accept the real adventure they asked for.

What a difference a day makes.

Categories: HOTS 2024