this really should be called the update at 5 hours because it has been that long since we saw a runner.
the last one was bob hearn,
nearing the top of the climb of the mountain on the east side of shady valley.
he was being hotly pursued by john Clarke
both were running at a pretty good clip
(and that is a long, hard climb!)
some combination of kyle kalbus, jeff stafford, and nathan ratliff followed.
they were moving at a pretty measured pace
which we thought was smart.
that is a tough climb
and even when they reach sandy gap there are more than 500 kilometers (314 miles) to go.
the only other runners on that climb;
kim durst, addison hendricks, and (we think) matt barker
had only started the climb and were really hammering at it.
of course the climb starts on a toe of hill sticking out,
and if you dont know better you might think the top is just "right there."
the uncertainty is a product of my having stashed my notebook in the trunk before we drove up through the field after everyone had exited north carolina.
not that it is anything more than amusing to follow the runners now.
the race is only beginning
everyone is smiling faces
and clever quips.
things have not turned serious yet…
and everyone had begun the race in a good mood.
the bus ride up is always fun.
no one knows where it starts
but everyone has their guesses
at every major intersection the bus is filled with cheers and moans
as the implications of the direction taken sink home.
when we make the totally unexpected turn
at a not major intersection
there is bewilderment from all
as no one had thought of a start in that direction.
this year we had an extra stop on the bus ride to tour the gray fossil museum.
the last supper…
always fun yet tense
until the release of the course map sets everyone to work.
82 compulsive overplanners have mere hours to study the map and make plans…
and somewhere in there before the bus ride to the start they need to sleep!
the race began (as always) with a twist.
the entire field had to start by crossing under hwy 88 in the fig tunnel,
followed by a 9 mile climb to pain gap and the tennessee state line.
a sweet way to start a 350 mile race!
there we will leave you,
because it is almost time for the 12 hour update.