vole stare toad race… 96 hour update
that isnt the barn you smell…
it is you!
day 5 dawns with two runners already home.
44 miles back up the course
addison hendricks has put in a big night to become the third runner this year to start up monteagle mountain.
behind him iain jones, chris varnadoe, anders noren, and kevin stockton hobble and limp in pursuit
nursing various injuries.
because everyone is hurt now
in various places and to varying degrees;
but everyone is nursing something.
and perhaps the most noticeable issue
is that they have been on the road for four days and four nights.
in heat furnace conditions
and monsoons
whatever the weather gods produced
the vol staters have had to bow their backs
and keep moving.
they look like refugees.
they know the truth about living out of a pack.
there is only so many times you can wash your clothes in a sink.
only so many times you can wear a 1$ poncho.
only so many times you can sleep in a ditch.
their gear looks as sad as they do.
but all they can do is keep moving.
the lives they led before they got on that ferry…
those times are a million miles away.
something out of a fairy tale.
the real world smells like exhaust and asphalt
and their unwashed selves.
the hundred survivors
have had a hundred different experiences
and run a hundred different races.
but they share a single goal…
the rock.
they must reach the rock.
they cannot have suffered all of this
and walk away with nothing.
but many of them will.
for those in the back oprah has become a nemesis.
an ever-present threat.
diane and nicole are dead women walking.
they lost more ground last night,
and the only reason they have not been picked up
is that carl is sleeping off the all day drive to return the last batch
and instead of sleep last night there were a pair of overnight finishers.
that circumstance has bought them one last futile opportunity:
run down the celebrity in 100 degree plus temperatures
before the meat wagon comes for them…
they have no chance.
4 more spent the night in linden.
they are a mile behind,
but allowed to try and make the ground back.
in theory they are coming off a rest.
they still have a chance.
but they have to beat oprah every day from here on out.
and oprah…
oprah will never waver.
jan’s chai tea and corn bread is like rocket fuel.
on top of those,
oprah has pulled within 5 miles of 7 more.
in the great migration that is the vol state
oprah is a remorseless predator
trailing the herd
picking off the stragglers.
and they all know what oprah means.
that long, grim ride in the meat wagon.
traveling up thru the survivors
envying the ones who still move.
god only knows why.
because those people are still baking in the sun.
they are still limping on painful feet
sleeping on concrete
and eating in filling stations.
but for all they are suffering
they are still chasing the dream.
and the fallen ones envy them their glorious misery.
at the end of the meat wagon ride
is a return to the life before the ferry.
the loss of simplicity.
and a return to thornier problems
than move and survive.
for 10 days in july the vol staters have nothing…
except the freedom of the open road.
but they have to earn it every day

Categories: Vols2023