one of the things that makes the vol state special
is the relationship that has developed over the years
between the runners and the people who live along the course.
The course winds its way through the countryside
passing thru numerous small towns along the way.
all along the course there are people who set up angel stations:
canopy tents in their yards
with coolers of drinks and food
chairs and cots
one family has even built an outdoor toilet facility for the runners.
many of the small towns have set up what they call welcome centers.
again with coolers of drinks and food
chairs and cots.
and a roof!
fire halls and churches set up stations
businesses offer cold water and other refreshments
or just a place to enjoy a few minutes of air conditioning.
other people, who do not live along the actual course
simply place coolers alongside the road
with signs indicating they are for the “vol staters”
many angel stations have been around so long
that the runners know them by name
and they have become landmarks on the course:
the gleason firehall
the peach man
the nutt house
the bench of despair
the smalling house
others may not have names
but the old runners know where they are
and look forward to them eagerly.
runners and angels develop friendships that extend beyond the race.
there may not be another ultra
where the community and the runners are as tightly bound together.
and the value of these acts of kindness
and others just spontaneous,
without any idea of what is going on
cannot be overestimated.
hardly a runner succeeds without,
at some point
(when it is most needed)
an angel showing up.
this year bob went out so fast
he was past before many places were set up.
he even found stations set up,
but not yet stocked.
(no one imagined that a screwed runner could go that fast)
at his lowest point in the race
between wheel and shelbyville
he was twice saved when vehicles just pulled alongside and offered him a cold bottle of water.
bev was on her last legs
running a desolate stretch between tracy city and the mountain mart
desperately needing to sleep
and thinking she had blown it by running past the last building
when out of nowhere there was a tarp hanging next to the woods beside the road,
with a cot under it out of the rain.
she thought it had to be a mirage,
but it was just a timely tennessee angel,
with exactly what she needed.
there will be many more miracles this week.
because this is the vol state.
speaking of miracles,
terrie w is still alive.
she fended off oprah for the 5th day and night in a row
heading into the second half of the race one mile past halfway.
the warrior lives to fight another day!
she has no margin for error,
but she is still in the game.
the rest of the runners on the edge have not checked in yet,
but i have to go up to get becca joyners finish.