Run It Fast At The 2013 Last Annual Vol State 500K

Last Annual Vol State 500K 2012

The Last Annual Vol State 500K begins this Thursday, July 11th. What is the Last Annual Vol State 500K? It’s a 314 mile foot race across Tennessee…in July. Because running 314 miles isn’t crazy enough, you have to do it in the refreshing heat and humidity of the south in the summer!

The Last Annual Vol State 500K is the brain child of Lazarus Lake (Gary Cantrell). It starts in Dorena Landing, Missouri with a boat ferry ride, runs across Tennessee, and ends atop a mountain at Castle Rock, Georgia. The runners can do this crewed or uncrewed (Screwed) or as a relay. If you are doing it in the Screwed category, you must carry everything that you will need and can only accept handouts/help from the kindness of strangers.

This year, 6 Run It Fast Club members will be running the Last Annual Vol State 500K, 3 veterans of the race and 3 newbies. 2 RIFers will be doing this crewed and 4 will be Screwed. Think only super humans can do this kind of run? Think again! Below you will meet 6 every day people…just like you and me…who happen to be embarking on a 314 mile journey to see what they are made of. Check out their stories below and then check the bottom of the post for links to follow them.



Diane has completed 2 Last Annual Vol State 500Ks and will be running her 4th this year (her first attempt was derailed by blisters). She will be running it uncrewed again this year. The past 2 years (since running 314 miles across Tennessee was not enough), Diane drove to the finish line and started her race early by running towards the start line. Last year, she was picked up in Lewisburg as others headed to the start so she added about 100 miles on to her journey in 2012! We asked Diane why she keeps coming back and she said: “I can’t explain it but I would like to do it every year as long as I’m physically able. There are others who have run/are running this who are in there 70s so I hopefully I will be able to do it into my 70s as well.”

Since Diane is running this Screwed and has to carry her own pack with what she needs, we asked her if she brought anything extra with her. She said this year “everything in the pack is just what I need. It weighs 9 1/2 pounds without water and another 6ish pounds with water so it will weigh about 16 pounds when full. Last year, I carried/wore a badge that Shannon (RIF #171 Shannon Burke – see below) made to honor our friend Angela Ivory.”

Screwed runners are not allowed to accept help from anyone they know or from the crews of other runners but can accept help from random strangers, Road Angels. We asked Diane if she had encountered any Road Angels and she said: “many times strangers stopped to give me water/soda and twice Road Angels asked me what I needed and then went to get water and bring it back to me.”

Next we asked Diane what she learned about herself while running the Last Annual Vol State 500K and she said: “I guess you learn when you want something bad enough, you are capable of doing a lot more than you thought. If you really, really want it, it can happen.”

Finally, we asked Diane if she had any advice for newbies to the VS500K or for anyone who was thinking about doing it and she said: “Tell everybody that they can do this. You don’t have to be a super athlete or runner. Anyone can do it.”

Diane used herself as a reference for that last questions, saying that if she, who was an average person, could do this then anyone can. We don’t know about you, but we think Diane is pretty amazing! Good luck Diane!



Shannon will be running her 3rd Vol State 500K this year and will be running uncrewed. The first year she ran it, she hadn’t even done a 50 Mile or 100 Mile race yet! She didn’t finish that first year but came back determined last year and finished in 8:13:13:36. We asked Shannon why she decided to run this race when her longest previous run was only 42 miles (only with a race like this can you say “ONLY” and 42 miles in the same sentence!) and she said: “I didn’t look at it as 500K as much as a grand adventure.  Laz (Gary Cantrell) has a way of writing that sucks you into his world.  I followed Vol State during 2010 and knew I wanted to try it.  And I am gullible and have a group of fellars that encourage me to try these races.”

Then we asked her why she keeps coming back and she said: “Vol State truly is a race that anyone can do.  It all depends on how bad you want it.  After I failed in 2011, I spent the next year wishing for the ferry to get my chance at redemption.  (It was a really long year!)  It is truly a journey run and you learn a lot about yourself.”

And finally, we asked her what the best and worst parts of the race are for her and she said: “The best: reading a Laz post that lifts your spirits when they were bottomed out, the open road, learning so much about yourself and your strength within, napping on a porch swing after a wonderful lunch, and the chance to stop when you reach the rock.  The worst:  going to bed knowing you have to get up the next day and go again, relentless rain that chases you under a bridge just to get a little bit of silence, and the pain and despair you find at times and don’t feel like you will ever reach the rock.”

But we do know that Shannon reached the rock and we are sure she will again this year! Good luck Shannon! You can follow Shannon on Twitter: @s4121burke and you can check out her blog Yellow Bus Adventures.



Josh has run over 90 marathons and ultras and will be running his 3rd Vol State 500K with a crew supporting him. Last year he was 2nd Overall and shaved more than 2 days off his previous year’s time! We asked him what makes Vol State 500K different from the many other races he’s done and he said: “It’s a grand epic adventure that gets in your blood like a bad virus and never leaves it even once the race is over and you’ve finished it. You think about it almost daily and the bond you make with your fellow Vol State runners is almost a fraternal bond that brings about a special spark when you see a VS alum at another race.”

Next, we asked Joshua about his huge PR last year and if it was training or mental preparation that made the difference and he said: “We had some crew issues in year one and I went in just wanting to finish the race. I was conservative and I kept an eye on my crew, my 15-year old cousin, as much as he kept an eye on me. We had a grand time and we both learned a lot along the way. I was a stronger runner going into my second attempt, but more so I knew what to expect and the layout of the course having run it before. I also attacked it like one of the wild dogs you sometimes meet along the way.”

Then we asked him if the running 314 miles seemed less intimidating after having done it twice and he said: “At this point I know what it takes to finish it, but I keep raising the bar of what I expect out of myself and what time goals I set for myself. It’s 314 miles no matter how you slice it. If you are going to be intimated by a race before it starts then it’s likely this one or you’re an android.”

Finally, we asked Joshua what lessons he’s learned from Vol State 500K that he’s been able to apply to other races/life experiences and he said: “Mental toughness, physical toughness, blister toughness…about every form of toughness imaginable. The downside is that almost every race since Vol State is a bit of a let down, because Vol State is such an epic adventure.”

We are excited to watch Joshua tear it up out there this year! He’s a beast! Good luck Josh! You can follow his adventures on Twitter: @bayou or on his Facebook page: UltraJoshua. Also, Joshua is raising money for charity: water and if you would like to donate to his campaign, click here: 2013 Vol State 500K Endurance Run. In 2011, Joshua and RIF #2 Naresh Kumar (@iamarunr) raised $6,205 while running VS500 that year and they helped fund a well in Ethiopia! Let’s help him top that this year!



Dallas has run many, many marathons, ultras, and Ironman races. He’s qualified for Boston numerous times and holds a boat load (58 and counting) of State Records for ages 63 to 72 in Tennessee for everything from the 5K to the marathon. He will be running his first Vol State 500K this year and he is doing it uncrewed.

We asked Dallas why he decided to take this challenge on and he said: “The answer is I don’t think I know why. I am always ready for adventure & a new experience & VS certainly is that. What I don’t like to face is that I may be seeking redemption for failing on a similar run in Spain. That failure was a spirit breaker in its abject totality. I was whipped. As broken ad Cool hand Luke. It haunts me yet & I guess I’m looking for a 2nd chance.”

And since everyone can use a bit of luck, we asked Dallas if he was taking a good luck charm with him and he said: “I hadn’t thought about that til now, but actually I am taking a good luck charm, a pair of Kalenji socks I bought on that same Spain trip. Practically every race I’ve run since, I’ve worn those socks, dozens & dozens. They seem indestructible & I’ve always said they were the best socks I ever owned. Not too romantic, I’ll admit, but when I was deciding on socks they had to go in. They connect this race to my failure in Spain.”

Since Dallas first answered that last question, he was given a good luck charm to carry by his daughter which we think is appropriate for the VS500:

Finally, we asked Dallas if he was nervous or excited about any part of this journey he was starting on and he said: “I’m not nervous. Strange to say – because I’m quite timid – I’ve never been nervous before a race. I am surely not bragging about that but merely expressing reality and a bit of amazement at it. I AM anxious, anxious in the sense that I want to see what will happen. Kinda like after a marathon finally starts and you say to yourself, finally dammitt we can run. This race holds many mysteries for me. A big component is the dirtbag-life on the road. Separate from the mere running is the continual foraging for food, water and shelter. All that is a problem in itself and I am curious to see how it all plays out.”

We cannot wait to hear all about the adventures Dallas has out there and are sure it would make for a great book! (If you don’t know, Dallas is an accomplished writer and a wonderful storyteller. You can find links to his books on his blog Turnaround and follow him on Twitter: @smithbend)



Diane is a racing machine. She just recently completed her SECOND round of marathons in 50 States. She will be running her first Vol State 500K this year with the help of a crew. We asked her why she took on this challenge and she said: “Why..actually I’ve been asking myself this too..ha,ha. Actually, RIF has been instrumental in having me challenge myself. With this in mind Vol State offered me a challenge totally out of my comfort zone. I’m not afraid of not finishing but would regret if I didn’t try. That said, I will take it day by day learning much about my threshold as well as the wonderful adventures in ultra endurance running.”

Next, we asked her what she was most excited and/or nervous about and she said she was: “Most excited about the knowledge I will gain learning so much more from some fascinating very accomplished ultra runners. What I’m most nervous about…everything! I’m such a rookie here. But thankful for the many people helping me on this journey. Most importantly my guardian angel crew chief Phil Min (RIF #286). None of this would have been possible had he not offered to crew me, giving up his scheduled marathon and extra days to be part of this epic event. I hope he’ll still call me friend when this is all over. “

Lastly, Diane had this to say about the coming days: “Also worried I’ll get lost. This is an unmarked course. I get lost on my last loop of a 9 times around course! 🙂 One thing I know for sure…I’m going to laugh and I’m going to cry. None of this would have been experienced had it not been for the gentle push by some in this wonderful Run It Fast family.”

We know Diane is going to be just fine! And we are excited that she is taking on this challenge. Go Diane!



David will be running his first Vol State 500K this year and he will be doing it uncrewed. He’s run almost 100 marathons and didn’t start running until he was 52. Not only does he run, but he raises money for the Lazarex Cancer Foundation as well. You can learn more about David on his website Run David Run.

We asked David why he decided to do VS500 and he said: “I only decided about 10 days ago to do this race. When I did the Jackal Marathon series a couple of weeks ago, some of my close enablers, oh, I mean friends, explained to me why I needed to run this race.”

Next we asked David if he had done anything like this before and he said: “The longest race I have done so far is Camrades (54 miles) twice. I plan to do my 1st 100 mile racin in August – the Leadville 100.”

Finally, we asked him what he was most nervous and excited about the next 314 miles and he said: “I’m most nervous about having my 1st DNF. I am most excited about running a new race with my friends and running further than I have ever run before.”

Good luck David! We have no doubt you will do great and that this will be great training for your next big adventure! (David is planning to go for the World Record for hiking the Appalachian Trail in June 2014 – you can find more info about that on his website as well).


I hope you’ll join us in wishing good luck to all of our Run It Fast Club members and all the others running the Last Annual Vol State 500K. Once again, it starts at 7am Central Time on Thursday, July 11th. We will be posting daily blogs/updates here on Run It Fast so make sure you check back here or follow us on Twitter @runitfast. You can also do a Twitter search on the hashtag #VS500 to see all the tweets about this year’s Last Annual Volstate 500K.

You can also like the Last Annual Vol State 500K Facebook page here: Last Annual Vol State Road Race.

And finally, you can also check on the runners at this link to the Last Annual Volstate 500K Spreadsheet & Map. It will be updated twice a day with each runners position/miles as they head to the finish.

Don’t miss out on the fun! Who knows, maybe next year people will be asking you “You’re going to run how far?” 🙂

[photos courtesy of Joshua Holmes, Naresh Kumar, and Lisa Gonzales]



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This post was written by:

- who has written 717 posts on Run It Fast®.

Lisa (RIF Club Member #5) has completed 27 half marathons, 13 marathons, 5 50Ks, 2 12 Hour races, and 1 100K. Her favorite races to date are the Disneyland Half Marathon, the Leading Ladies Marathon, the Bataan Memorial Death March, and the Jackson Jackass 50K. You can follow her on Twitter @runlikeacoyote

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