the brightly colored rain gear contrasted with the low cloud cover and overall grey tone of the morning as our adventurers crossed the clinch river and started up the switchbacks toward the first of 3 mountain passes in the first 15 miles.
their track takes them thru lush green forests and alongside stark stone faces where the space for a narrow road was blasted out of the mountainsides.
this road with a thousand switchbacks is a harrowing drive under the best conditions.
this morning it was a white knuckler on the wet roads
so steep at times that i was afraid i would lose traction on the climbs and slide back down
or just slip on a hairpin curve and go right over the side on the descents.
the runners will enjoy the dearth of traffic on this stretch
as even locals avoid this road.
on foot it is a spectacularly beautiful section of the course
in some of the most remote parts of tennessee.
they will cross three mountains on this road,
passing thru stony gap, big war gap, and stone mountain gap before starting the long descent to the first store at 20 miles.
i had planned to stop at a friendly house at mile 11 and take their times as they passed.
but no one was home and i did not want to stop in front of an empty house….
not out here!
it is a shame,
because they could have used some encouragement before starting the gut-wrenching climb up clinch mountain!
i wonder how many will make it to the first aid stop at 20 miles by the 12 hour checkin?
Update 1-A: Hour 9:15
it has been a tense day here at the base camp.
watching the rain
checking the radar
wondering how it is going out in the mountains.
there is no place for anyone to take a rest for the whole first 20 miles.
not in the rain.
happily there have not been any calls yet.
i find myself rooting for the denizens.
this is a brutal way to start the race.
survival mode right from the get go.
but this is a sturdy bunch.
tough and experienced.
i really believe if they can make it to good weather intact
they can make a strong run at this thing…
but it would sure be good to know what was happening out there,
checkin time cant come soon enough!