for some of the runners
things got real by the time we saw them at 20 miles.
for a lot of the runners
things got real by the time the sun was setting.
for the majority of the runners
things will be real by morning.
for all of the runners
even the strongest
things will be real by tomorrow afternoon.
what is this real.
real is when there are enough miles on your legs
that you feel it with every step.
real is when the finish becomes too far away to think about.
it is just the next hill, the next turn, the next store.
real is when you become a part of the road
and the road becomes a part of you.
real is when the possible becomes…. well, the reality
real is blisters not hot spots
real is swelling not tweaks
real is gnawing hunger not cravings
real is sleep deprivation not drowsiness.
real is the second winnowing.
fear shrinks the field.
and real shrinks it more.
real sounds like fun at home.
but real is hard.
real is dirty.
sometimes real can be ugly.
there is a reason that not everyone will reach the rock.
the race began this morning at the base of a giant peach.
from there it wound its way into gaffney
where the runners had a selection of places to shop for supplies.
after gaffney it meandered thru the countryside to cowpens.
where there was a chance to grab a snack,
or just step into some air conditioning for a moment.
but the AC was not as critical as it could have been.
the runners were treated to a model day
highs in the 80’s
and rare moderate humidity
in the land of the hot, wet, wool blanket atmosphere.
another stretch of countryside took the runners to spartanburg
(about 22 miles out)
after a scenic walk through the historic spartanburg downtown
the runners turned to the northwest
angling out thru the strip club district
and off on a 23 mile trek thru the countryside to gowensville
where a 20 mile stretch of emptiness was broken by a 24 hour gas station….
literally an oasis in the eyes of the HOTS runners.
there they turned to the west and begin a 60 mile visual feast
running the cherokee foothills scenic highway.
the 7 fastest runners hit the foothills highway late this afternoon.
they will probably run on it all thru the night.
tonight they will see the mountains in the light of about a half moon.
but the moon is waxing,
and over the next week will grow to the full phase.
the nighttime sightseeing should be fantastic.
on the foothills highway
most of the field will get to enjoy the scenery all day tomorrow.
you could not ask for a prettier course.
but pretty has a price.