4 days are in the bank.

52 runners fight on…


not 53 any more.

pam smith’s valiant struggle on the brink came to a tragic end.

after so many hours of pushing as hard as she could go

she had reached the line that had to be crossed before morning

and took a nap.

awaking with a brain clouded with pain, fatigue, and sleep

she ran 6 miles back the way she had come.


game over.


a couple more are in clayton

weighing their options.

still not quite halfway

having just climbed up from the chatooga

and with many more climbs just like that still ahead…


they teeter on the edge of a chasm.

escape is only a phone call away.


here at the rock we are starting to prepare for the beginning of the end.

we figure jim fleming will be coming in sometime in the wee hours of early tuesday morning.


26 miles separate him from the next runner.

with luck that gap will hold,

and i will be able to come down here to eat, shower, and maybe even take a nap

before going up to wait for the next 4.


right now they are only spread across 15 miles.

maybe i will be lucky and that will hold,

meaning only a 6-8 hour stint before the 35 mile gap to the next one.

that ought to give me as much as 12 hours sometime wednesday to get my last sleep, food, and whatever taken care of.

after that it looks like we will basically be at the rock until the last one comes in…. sometime sunday morning.

only one 4 day stretch without sleep.

that will make this a pretty easy HOTS!


there is a whole untold story at the HOTS and vol state.

jan in the meat wagon

me watching the front

and carl filling the gap in between…


shuffling drops around

stashing them in motels until we can collect enough for a load

and then ferrying them to their vehicles at the rock.


in the early days it is a whole day’s trip to take them back.

staff sleep is spread as thin as it is for the runners.

we have a room at the super 8 in kimball for the duration.

one or more of us can stop there to sleep any time

day or night.

it is a handy place to have between ferrying one group back

and returning to get another.


once the finishes begin

it is where we can return for a shower or a nap

(and sometimes you have to choose which you need worse)

but only when you have a sufficient gap between runners.


we watch the space between them grow and shrink

cheering when they space out further

and weeping when the faster one behind is closing the gap

and stealing an opportunity to eat, sleep, or shower….


whichever one you need worse.


it is a 30 minute drive (down sand mountain on a curvy road)

to reach anything.

and 30 minutes back.


carl, being the youngster in the crowd

happily just lives in a refrigerator box in the woods up there while the finishes are happening.

last year a shower was added

(a 55 gallon drum on stilts)

with hot and cold running water

(after it has been in the sun all day it is hot and after it has been out of the sun all night it is cold)

i have heard talk of a portapottie this year.


i look forward to telling these kids out there what it was like in the old days.


the cell phone is our friend

as many times the schedule is written and revised by texts.

on rare occasions we all end up in one place

swapping runners around like contraband


and we can make tentative plans for the next 6 or 8 hours.

(plans that can be instantly changed by runners doing things like running 6 miles in the wrong direction)


who makes the run is decided by vehicle capacities and who has most recently slept.


but now that part is winding down.


only two drops to bring back today

(one leftover from yesterday)and the trip is only half as far as it used to be.

it is the finish line that will soon be the focal point.

Categories: HOTS