TEXT: Lazarus Lake

What sort of person would want to run 314 miles across Tennessee in mid-July?

On the morning of Thursday, July 9, 2015, one hundred runners from across the US, and around the world, will board the first Mississippi River ferry from Dorena Landing, Missouri to begin just such an adventure. The finish line will await them some 314 miles away, at Castle Rock, high atop Sand Mountain in Northwest Georgia. In between the ferry and “the Rock” they will take on one of the most daunting challenges in the running world, the Vol-State Road Race.

The pre-race favorite is Joe Fejes of Hoschton, Georgia. Joe, at a recent race in Hungary, became the first American in more than 100 years to top 600 miles in 6 days. Other top contenders include Johan Steene from Stockholm Sweden, Scandinavian record holder for 48 hours, 2014 winner, Nelson (Gregg) Armstrong of Tennessee, 2011 winner Don Winkley of Corpus Christie, Texas, who won at the age of 73, 2010 runner-up Joe Ninke of Sebastian, Florida, John Fegyveresi of State College, Pennsylvania, one of 14 men ever to complete the Barkley Marathons, Jeremy Ebel of Lafayette Colorado, and Dale Rucker, a high school teacher from Short Creek, Tennessee. Fejes set the current course record of 3:08:10:16 (3 days-8 hours-10 minutes-16 seconds).

While the contest for the win will be between the elite runners in the field, the most remarkable aspect of the Vol-State is the very ordinariness of the majority of the entrants. College students, college professors, truck drivers, doctors, lawyers, housewives, and retirees; people from all walks of life, ranging in age from their twenties to their seventies will pit their will and endurance against the heat, hills and humidity of a Tennessee July. Participants will run, walk, or crawl in the effort to finish within the 10 day time limit. Many will be on the road for 20 or more hours per day. A small part of the runners will have crews, but the majority will be entirely on their own. With no official race aid stations, those Vol-Staters will have to rely on what they can carry or find along the way. What most of them find is Tennessee’s famous hospitality. Over the past decades, the Vol Staters have been embraced by the people, and the small rural communities along the course. Every runner finds their spirits bolstered by words of encouragement. Many a Vol-Stater has been saved by something as simple as the timely gift of a glass of ice-water, or a piece of fruit. In recent years, hand lettered signs have sprung up along the course, encouraging the runners in their quest. The Vol State has become a part of July in rural Tennessee.

The real opponents at the Vol-State are not the other runners. They are heat, hills, humidity, blisters, cramps, fatigue, hunger, thirst, sleep deprivation, and incredibly sore feet. While the winner will hold the coveted title “King of the Road” for the next 12 months; every runner who manages to reach “the Rock” will receive the real reward. In facing and persevering through the pain and despair, which will stop the majority of those attempting the race short of their goal, the runners who reach the rock will find something inside their selves that they never knew was there. The emotional reward of overcoming such insurmountable obstacles is a memory that will last a lifetime. No Vol-Stater ever forgets the feeling that comes when they finally reach “the Rock,” and join that elite club of Vol-State finishers.

Progress in the event can be followed on the internet: http://www.tinyurl.com/Volstate2015

Or updates on the Last Annual Vol State Road Race facebook page.

Landmarks on the course, and their distance:

Dorena Landing, MO ferry landing 0 miles
Hickman, KY old downtown district 2 miles
Union City, TN old downtown district 18 miles
Martin, TN old downtown district 31 miles
Dresden, TN square 40 miles
Gleason, TN high school 48 miles
McKenzie, TN square 56 miles
Huntingdon, TN square 67 miles
Lexington, TN square 92 miles
Parsons, TN downtown 107 miles
Linden, TN square 125 miles
Hohenwald, TN square 144 miles
Hampshire, TN downtown 162 miles
Columbia, TN square 177 miles
Culleoka, TN downtown 188 miles
Lewisburg, TN square 201 miles
Shelbyville, TN square 223 miles
War Trace, TN downtown 233 miles
Manchester, TN square 249 miles
Pelham, TN downtown 266 miles
Monteagle, TN downtown 274 miles
Tracy City, TN downtown 280 miles
Jasper, TN downtown 296 miles
South Pittsburg, TN Tn River Bridge 303 miles
Castle Rock, GA scenic overlook 314 miles

 

Ovan text har Gary skickat till lokaltidningar längs rutten. Hoppas den hjälper oss att få lokalbefolkningen blid och vänligt inställd…

Jag har skrivit om förra årets lopp och texten finns här.

Min kropp har vissa krämpor och jag är lite rädd. LAVS är brutalt. Jag vet ärligt inte varför jag söker mig tillbaka…

Den 9 juli går starten. Hoppas kunna bli klar på under fyra dygn. Håll tummarna!

/Johan