the journey really starts tomorrow,


i will be up before the sun,

heading high into the north georgia mountains

to a parking lot cut into a cornfield on a remote mountaintop.


there i will meet a hundred hopeful runners.

a few are elite multi-day athletes

but most are just ordinary people.

ordinary people 

with ordinary jobs

and ordinary lives…


who hunger for the chance to do something extraordinary.


and there,

out in that cornfield

i will see them off

as they will begin that journey.


they will load up in tour buses

to begin the all-day drive backwards over the course.


as the hours and miles roll past

that ride for the virgins 

ranges from sobering to intimidating.

talking about 314 miles is one thing.

seeing it unfurl

in all its hot, humid, hilly vastness

is another thing altogether.


even the seasoned veterans have to wonder

how their fragile legs

mere muscle, bone, and sinew

can conquer that vastness…. 


not all of them will make it.

many will fall to the heat

the hills

and the unfathomable distance.

pain and fatigue will break down their resolve

and the meat wagon,

merely a phone call away

will end their quest.


but many more will find what they came to find.

not just the heat, the hills, and the unfathomable distance

not just the pain and fatigue…


they will find that something extra

that is there in all of us.

that something special

that gives them the will to persevere

and achieve the impossible.

that something that you cannot know is there

until you are forced to call on it.


these are the vol staters

they will arrive at the rock with tears of joy

and walk away with an extra confidence in their (limping) stride

and a different gleam in their eye.


they were tested to the very core of their soul.

and proved equal to the challenge.


their journey begins tomorrow.

vaya con dios vol staters

Categories: Vols2021