safe and secure in your beds
preparing to do whatever run you do today
over familiar terrain
with assuredness of where you were
where you are going
and that at the end you will have a way home…
sixty something lonely souls were wandering through the darkness.
relying only on the sporadic internet connection
to look at a map on their phone
and hope they were finding the right roads.
memories of the daytime bear sightings along the course
playing in their minds
as they walk and run through the deep, dark woods.
two days ago they were abandoned
dumped, like unwanted puppies,
alongside the road.
for two days and two nights they have run with what they could carry.
gaps of unknown hours between the chance to find food
an occasional gift of cold water
from a sympathetic stranger
bringing tears of gratitude to their eyes..
they have followed a map to wend their way through strange cities.
they have had to eat whatever they could find
(the che BP gets 5 stars)
sleep where ever they could.
on picnic tables
behind abandoned buildings…
church porches and post office floors are the ritz carltons of HOTS runners.
you lucky people
living the luxury of having a home
knowing where you are
sleeping in a bed
and getting to eat or drink whenever you feel like it.
you could have been one of the lost souls of HOTS
there was room at the end.
you could have looked forward today
of running in the blistering sun all day
with success counted as reaching your third night
alone in the mountains
exhausted, sleep deprived,
with blistered feet and sunburnt skin
hungry and thirsty
with a half a flask of warm water to tide you over….
wondering if that noise in the woods is a hungry bear.
hell, wondering if the road you are on goes where you think it goes.
or maybe goes nowhere.
last night the intensity of the experience
or physical injuries overwhelmed 7 more.
no one yet has been timed out
today we will gather them up
and carry them to the rock.
and they will think their mournful thoughts
looking out the window
as we pass those poor bastards that run on.
they will be sorry that they are not among them.
things for the survivors will only get worse.
a tropical storm is approaching atlanta
on the way to batter them with rain and high winds.
only two runners have crossed dick’s creek pass
their high point in the appalachians.
and no one has yet reached the kimsey mountain highway.
carl drove yesterday’s drops over the kimsey.
their succinct review:
“oh my god…. i could never have done this”
we are two days in.
and the adventure has barely begun.
on the competitive side;
jim fleming is now alone at the front.
bev is out with injury.
jim winn is 25 miles back.
far from an insurmountable deficit
(altho he is still on the other side of dick’s creek pass)
kimberly durst is another 5 miles back
and in serious contention to win this monster.
curtis barton, matt jenkins, and jessica hardy are all strung out behind…
and in the running.
sleep breaks and terrain features are constantly juggling the lineup.
at the very least,
any one of those runners has a chance to win.
of course that thought is in their heads…
way in the back;
behind finding something to drink
something to eat
and the next turn.