for 6 and a half days the hots runners have lived beside the road
they have climbed mountains and crossed rivers
they have gone without food and water for many long and difficult miles
they have been through ferocious thunderstorms
blazing heat and freezing cold.
they have endured unbearable pain
and utter exhaustion.
their feet are bags of misery
their legs bundles of aching muscles and swollen tendons.
but on they go.
on and on and on they go.
where they stop…
we hope we know.
the podium places have been decided
but the race is far from over.
a stream of runners is coming out of chattanooga
the first ones have hit the top of sand mountain.
busy times are coming for the crew waiting at the rock.
the real drama, however, is back around the north carolina/tennessee state line.
the real race now is between the six and the grim reaper.
tony hendrix has taken off and moved 2 miles ahead of the reaper.
jamie and josh quarandillo are but a mile behind him
odie hestnes and diana chmielewski are a mile behind them…
and melissa wagner has fallen to 8 miles behind the cutoff.
days of fighting just to stay in the race have not broken them.
it has beaten them up pretty bad.
but their spirits remain unbroken.
seemingly in a hopeless position
has vowed to catch back up.
the meat wagon is showing mercy
for now the six are still in the fight.
but the pressure is on.
as it will remain for the next 3 and a half days,
if they are to conquer the monster.
as a child, monsters seem to be everywhere.
they hide under your bed.
they lurk in your closet.
they are waiting in the dark.
for the six brave souls staring down the grim reaper.
the monster is right there in front of them.
it is made up of an endless white line
and a remorselessly ticking clock.
and every minute of every day
they must face this monster down.
or take a ride to the rock in the meat wagon.
your parents told you monsters are not real.
but the six know that monsters are very real.
and they are worse than what was ever imagined.