sorry for the spotty updates here down the stretch.
we have been pretty busy up on the rock
and the electronics operate on limited charge.
only during the infrequent gaps long enough to come down off the rock can i make decent posts.
the 10th day has begun.
for the band of merrymakers toiling in oprah’s shadow
it is time to fish or cut bait.
they have a great day to start the final, desperate push;
the weather is alternating between a scorching sun
and they have to cross the cumberland plateau,
make the breathtaking, leg destroying plunge down jasper mountain,
run down the humid heat sink that is the sequatchie valley
pass through the roller coaster hills of no hope,
with the man-eating monster of sand mountain looming over their heads,
then climb the soul sucking switchbacks to the top of the monster,
all just to reach the cornfields and forests of castle rock.
the amount of cushion at the end of 10 days is nothing.
10:00:00:00 is a finish.
10:00:00:01 is a dnf.
today they play for all the marbles
in a pass-fail test of the will to win.
terrie wurzbacher is so close to oprah that she can smell her perfume.
that close, but still behind.
terrie started the race strong and had an early lead
before falling back into a life and death struggle that has gone on for the last 5 days.
some days she has ended up ahead
others she has ended up behind.
day 10 it is do or die.
this one will probably be decided in the corn.
diane taylor is the furthest back
at 5 miles off the pace.
she had a seemingly safe lead at one time
but has been erratic over the past few days…
and fell way into arrears when she slept too long at whispering oaks.
i think she has the leg speed to make it up.
but sand mountain is not going to be fun.
michelle chauvin was a latecomer to the oprah sweepstakes
comfortably ahead early,
she faded in midrace
and then fell off into a huge deficit during days 7 and 8.
she picked up a crew on day 9 and put on a monster surge to catch up.
here on day 10 it will come down to how much is left in the tank after that herculean effort.
richard westbrook has a couple of miles on the celebrity superstar.
vol state historians will tell you about the days he could knock out 100 plus mile days and win the race over all comers.
but that was then.
this is now, and oprah is an opponent as relentless as plowboy carpenter once was.
richard has had a difficult race to get within a day with a slight lead over oprah.
the old lion may not have the legs he once had.
but the heart of a champion still beats in his chest
and he is as tough in the home stretch as he ever was.
oprah will have her work cut out for her if she wants to take down this former king of the road.
richard has made a statement this week
and his message is clear;
“not this year, oprah…
not this year.”
there are others taking this test.
their leads may not be as tenuous
and they night have reached this point by different paths.
but the challenge remains the same…
shake off the fatigue
ignore the pain wracked feet, sunburnt flesh, and tortured muscles
overcome the deprivation;
the lack of sleep, proper nutrition, the comforts of modern life, especially indoor plumbing (smiley face)
push through every obstacle the open road has to offer
do what has to be done
and beat that b to the rock.
today is the crux of what the vol state is all about.
11 different warriors
fighting 11 different battles.
11 ordinary people
out to win 11 extraordinary victories.
if they lose,
it will not be because they backed down from a challenge.