vol stare toad race:
24 hour update!
while we slept a form began to take shape in the shadows of night.
the form of a race…
as spectators we knew so little about the runners as they came off the ferry yesterday.
john wright…. was he real,
or was he memorex?
by the 12 hour checkin we knew he had one part of the required skillset.
he could lay down miles in the heat.
while the day fell short of the 100 degree high that was forecast
it wasnt like it didnt get in the ballpark.
the question was what he would do at night.
much of the field took “substantial” sleep breaks last night
(i wouldnt tell that to the runners, because “substantial” sleep break at vol state doesnt exactly mean 10 hours in a feather bed… more like 2-4 hours on a concrete pad behind an abandoned convenience store).
when the day started with john at 109 miles, approaching the first tennessee river crossing, that question was answered.
61 and 48 mile splits mark him as someone who has come to play….
johan steene was a question mark.
not because we knew nothing about him.
prior to 2020 he was one of the world’s best multiday runners:
former holder of the vol state screwed record
2nd place in world 24 hour championships
former backyard ultra world record holder
still the holder of almost every scandinavian multiday record…
but he had not run anything in 3 years.
and 3 years is a long time in an athletic career.
talking to him before the race he put it perfectly;
“my mind thinks the race will be just like it used to be…
but three years is a long time.”
johan has a knack for summing things up perfectly.
a 100 mile first day places him in perfect position to be the fearsome competitor he has always been.
peter and paul (strickland and hogan) had strong nights to start day 2 with 93 miles in lexington.
and steve troxel is still right on their heels at 92
this is the vol state,
with hundreds of miles of heat and hills still to go.
if that lead pair reduce each other to smoldering wreckage beside the road,
then any of these three are positioned perfectly to sweep past and take control.
behind them is a gap.
no one is totally out of the race,
but they would need some wild things to happen at the front.
(not that wild things are out of the question)
the womens race has separated from the mens
but it is perhaps even more intense.
leonie van den haak and Ariela Flory are back around beaver school at 82 and 83 miles.
ariela is currently in front.
but at this stage in the race a mile means nothing.
the lead could (and probably will) change with every break at an angel station.
and so we start day 2
with the story of the day yet to be written
in the sweat and blood of the strong, determined men and women who run in vanguard of that long thin line of vol staters.
the sky is a solid ceiling of blue
with not a cloud in sight.
it is supposed to reach 103 today in mckenzie
which is in the center of where most of the field starts today.
where all of them must be past by tomorrow.
today is not going to be given to the vol staters on a silver platter.
they are going to have to seize it by force.
out there on the shimmering blacktop 112 stories are being written
in sweat and blood.
every runner is now involved in an epic adventure.
a struggle for life and death on the road.
the individual parameters may be different
age, ability, experience
(and we have about 80 vol state newbies in the field)
one thing they all have in common:
there are hundreds of miles of heat and hills ahead of them.
what waits around the next bend
or over the next hill…
none of them knows.
but there is only one way to find out.
on they run and walk.
fearlessly into the furnace….
ok. possibly there is some fear.
but there ought to be.
this is a hard and unforgiving game.
and the open road is a cruel mistress.

Categories: Vols2022