First, 114 is the correct number of starters. The 115 reported earlier included someone accidentally counted twice.
The big story of the day, aside from the record number of starters, is that the people of Northwest Tennessee are getting to really LOVE the volstate. I am a little worried that Walmart may be completely out of pop-up tents, coolers, and those folding chairs….because it seems every front yard on the course is adorned with a setup fit for a king. Between Union City and Martin, a 9 mile stretch that in the past would only offer one potential stop at Final Flight Outfitters, I counted no less than four Road Angel Stations at private homes or small businesses.
Dresden, Gleason, and McKenzie have all upped their game in their friendly contest to be the ranked the “most hospitable” of volstate host towns. Without playing favorites, I’ll mention that the Dresden Farmer’s Market was churning homemade pineapple sherbet for the runners. The regulars in Gleason had bought out the entire craft store of all their poster board and attached encouraging posters to nearly every utility pole within the city limits. McKenzie has an indoor-outdoor station set up with rocking chairs and masseuses…..
ok, not really on the masseuses, but they are ready to treat the runners..
Lest the casual observer think all this pampering is making the event too easy…let me point out that the heat index today in Union City was 105. This may be a mid-range value for volstate, but it is still considered “dangerous for strenuous activity” by the National Weather Service. And all but the front half dozen runners were reduced to a slow jog or outright walk after lunchtime.
Runners were seen on the side of the road (and underneath Road Angel tents) in various stages of heat-related syndromes. It is only day one, so anyone who found themselves in trouble would be best served by taking an extended break and gaining a full recovery before moving on.
Tomorrow afternoon will reveal just how intelligently our 2018 crop of volstaters negotiated this warm first day. We have two 15-passenger vans staged in Lexington, ready for the potential cascades of drops that might occur as runners over-extended themselves today.
My bet is that this crop has come in tough and prepared, and the second bus won’t be needed.
But there is a LONG way to go.