The first rays of sun that hit you on day 2 at volstate are a right of passage. Not a single runner experiences it and thinks, “oh, thank goodness, finally the sun is back!”
The actual reaction is generally to recoil violently, and search the horizon for any merciful promise of shade trees or clouds.
No one had an easy day today, as the cloudless Tennessee skies tormented the runners with heat from above, and the pavement sent most of it right back up at them from below. Long stretches on highways 22 and 412 are completely exposed, with no shade for hundreds of yards off the shoulder.
There are three methods of heat transfer relevant to the volstater. Conduction, Convection, and Radiation. It’s been a few years since my thermodynamics, but water changing phases from sweat to water vapor should also be mentioned.
The volstater becomes intimately familiar with all three/four. Their bodies are constantly generating heat from within, due to the work their muscles are doing. Their Shoes conduct heat from the pavement into their feet. The pavement also radiates heat up at their skin. Their bodies sweat, trying in vain to effectively utilize evaporation and convection to transfer heat into the air, and the sun’s radiation dumps heat into them continuously. Humans are better suited than many species for travel in hot weather, but that does not mean it’s comfortable!
The bulk of the runners spent the day strung out between McKenzie and Lexington. This entire section is a blast furnace on cloudless days. There was lots of talk of dropping, and the resolve to finish was really tested for the first time. A handful succumbed to the heat. We are down to 106 still pursuing The Rock.
The middle of the pack was not the only place cooking today. Our leader at 24 hours, and Course Record Holder, Greg Armstrong pulled the plug in this afternoon’s inferno. Starting to falter as the sun came up this morning, he made every effort to recuperate as he slowed on his way towards Linden, but when no recovery materialized, he made the call every volstater dreads. With a curfew of Tuesday morning to be back productive at work, Greg saw the writing on the wall and decided to save himself for another day.
Those runners who who can feel the resolve melting in the hot sun would do well to remember that after the first two days in the heat, the body starts to show appreciable adaptation. Hanging in there can be rewarded with a finish, if goals can be adjusted.
Our new leader, Grant Maughan, acknowledged the heat and kept right on plugging away today, reaching the Lewis County line and straining towards Hohenwald after 36 hours.
A little ways back, we have a trio of crewed women who appear to be setting up nicely for a competitive race to The Rock in the coming days.
With Armstrong retired, the screwed race becomes very exciting, 6 of them are past 100 miles.
In news of the weird, snakes have become a thing at volstate. A water moccasin was seen on the pavement in Martin yesterday, and this evening a pair of large snakes were encountered on the shoulder of highway 22. As dusk fell, before there was a need for headlamps, a runner nearly stepped on them. I didn’t get a first hand account, but I feel certain there was a jump and a blood curdling scream involved, followed by an elevated heart rate for a mile or two.