carl and i were talking about the vol state yesterday,
and how it has provided a fascinating view of collective human potential.
it has not been that long ago that there was a huge gap between crewed and screwed runners in the vol state.
the serious runs for time were done by the crewed runners.
the screwed contest was simply one of survival.
it has not been that long ago that there was speculation if it was possible for a screwed runner to break 5 days.
if my memory serves me,
it was the legendary dan (feral) fox who first accomplished that feat.
it used to be considered it would take a miracle for a screwed runner to win..
well, as a collective, the history of humans is one of moving the bar higher and higher.
and that is what multiday runners have done to the concept of running screwed at the vol state.
alan abbs set the bar so high,
that his record was considered unbreakable….
until the swede (johan steene) blew it out of the water.
then johan made the crazy statement that it was not that good a performance.
at least we thought it was crazy
until he came and blew away his own record.
that record remained unbreakable only briefly
because greg armstrong then pushed it down to just over 3 days and 14 hours where it stands unsteadily today.
within striking distance of his own crewed record of 3 days 7 hours and change.
and now we have bob hearn.
after 2 days he is only 6 miles behind the crewed record pace.
far closer than the 17 mile edge has has on the screwed record.
he is in striking distance of setting the overall record.
leaving open the question of why we have divisions.
i feel like i am watching an artist create a masterpiece.
he has blown away a very strong field.
unlike the crewed runners we have no idea what is really going on in his mind.
we cannot interrupt a genius at work to ask.
but the results we see are incredible.
the even pacing
the continuous high level of effort.
there are still 100 miles to go
and a couple of mountains to cross
but bob is producing a performance for the ages so far.
i feel both privileged to be able to witness it
and dying to have him sit on the throne,
and tell us about what has gone on behind the creation of this masterpiece.
he is not producing any facebook live videos for the world to watch.
just the work of a great master.
far behind now,
bev abbs has slipped by the flori and is second entering columbia.
behind them rebecca joyner is having a great race of her own
(altho the last report on her was that she was crying as she ran)
back in the back we have a large group of runners just ahead of oprah.
there are a lot of familiar names in there.
runners who have been here before many times.
for me, many of them evoke an emotional response.
because oprah is not just relentless day by day
she is not slowed by the passage of the years either.
every year she is the same as she was the year before.
as athletes we are not.
some of my old friends back there fighting for their lives
didnt used to have to worry about oprah.
i see a name or two that once fought for the lead at the front.
for most runners oprah represents the real world.
if she catches you,
you have to leave the vol state world.
that simple place where your only concerns are finding food and water
locating a place to sleep or pee.
and moving down the white line.
late in our career oprah represents time.
the time that slowly robs us of our speed and strength.
for these warriors,
to beat oprah one more time
means that they still have it.
that they can still come out and play this difficult game.
we all know that oprah will get us sooner or later.
our athletic career has long passed the day when we are trying to improve every year.
we just want to prove that we can beat those stilleto heels to the rock one more time.
she might chase us all the way to the cornfields.
but we can beat her to the rock.
for one more year we still belong in the game.
106 runners have 106 stories.
106 reasons to step on that ferry.
106 reasons to take that vacation without a car.
106 battles to fight.
106 outcomes to find.
there is a lot of living to do
during those 10 days in july.