Tag Archive | "Gary Cantrell"

Vol State 2011 Tire Change Stop

Day 4: The Last Annual Vol State 500K Live Blog

From: Carl Laniak
Date: Sun, Jul 17, 2011 at 8:40 PM
Subject: i have come so far, and i am nowhere: vol state 11
To: Volstate List , ultra List

this lesser update brought to you from carl, who is home working for 24 hours while laz and sandra keep watch on the road…

the leaders are starting to strategize about winning,
the midpackers are feeling like they are impossibly far from the rock…..impossibly far….
the back of the pack is fully consumed by staying on a 50k/day pace…..

each time a runner calls in, they get a cheerful hello.
it might be the only cheerful voice they hear for 6 or 8 hours….aside from their own lonesome ramblings.
i wonder as the phone rings, are they going to ask for a ride?
are they going to surprise me with extra miles?
do they have another dog story?
are they going to tell me they’ve been picked up by relatives and are already at home in fresh clothes?

so far, we have a phenomenal retention rate.
17 of the 19 starters still have intentions to reach that damn rock!

*****************For those of you who live in the southeast and dream about the vol state**************
the middle of this week is going to be a transcendental experience. i hope many of you are already making your plans to come witness a finish or two.
you can see someone, in the moment, who has truly “done something special.”
standing on the rock and seeing their headlamp ascend sand mountain, with just 4 miles to go, you will think,
“i would trade ANYTHING to be in their shoes right now!”
it will inspire you, it will probably make you cry. it will almost certainly make you wish you’d been on the road at vol state 2011

at 84 hours, 3.5 days….it was like this:

UltraDon has had an afternoon rest cycle, and is cruising at mile 205.
Mike M is resting in columbia, 180 miles, heading back out tonight.
abi has had a cell phone deconstruction, but managed to get to 169.
joe judd moved all day and picked up some places, he’s at 165.
sherry meador continues to complain about her feet, but they are moving her up in the field, to mile 153.
the rest of the threesome, naresh and sal, are a few miles back at 149.
fred murolo has rested during the afternoon, and is at 145, planning to go hard all night.
josh holmes has also rested, and will get going soon from mile 130.
the fightin’ mathenys are already out of linden at 127…looking at a night trek to hohenwald
the rest of the pack is in/around linden:
john price – 125 and heading out this evening
shannon b – 125 will get going in the morning
stu gleman – 125 – hopes to mooch from shannon’s crew after a bonk this afternoon
fred davis – 124 and plans to go all night
diane taylor – 123 shooting for linden tonight
paul lefelhocz – 122 also has a room in linden

joe n and marv s are envied by all the other runners….they will wake up tomorrow without any miles to cover on foot.


Joshua Holmes
‎12:30pm stopping for hotel. 11:06 on road 30 miles since left last hotel 12.5 hours ago. Got hour nap 5:30.

Vol State 2011 Tire Change Stop

State 2011 Day 4 Beautiful Morning

From: lazarus lake
Date: Sun, Jul 17, 2011 at 9:51 AM
Subject: 3 days down, how many to go? vol-state 10
To: volstate@irun100s.com, ultra@listserv.dartmouth.edu

the racing has begun.
despite briefly losing his lead yesterday evening,
don has extended it by 2 miles from yesterday’s morning checkin
(from 15 to 17 miles)
it looks like the crown is riding between mike matteson & don,
and at 73 yo, don knows he cant win a 50 or 60 mile sprint finish.
so he has to break mike down now…
or else build an insurmountable lead.
with his experience, you can bet don is up to the challenge.
the question is, can young mike answer?
it will cost him.

stay tuned to find out what happens…

after 3 full days:

don winkley thru columbia at 180
mike matteson is past hampshire at 163
abi meadows in hohenwald at 145
sal coll, naresh kumar, and sherry meador in hohenwald at 143
(sherry says she has; “a little pain in my feet…. excrutiating.”)
joe judd, and fred murolo are past linden at 133
josh holmes is living the dream… across the tennessee river at 120
john price is approaching the river at 111

106 seems to be the magic number today.
shannon burke & stu gleman are leaving parsons & just past 106
lynnor & erika matheny are entering parsons coming up on 106
fred davis was last sighted at 106
(altho we dont know where he is now- there is a cell-service-gap after parsons)
and joe ninke dropped at 106
paul lefelhocz is past lexington at 99, and moving thru the tail end of the field
diane taylor is leaving lexington at 97
and marv skagerberg is in clarksburg (76) and contemplating dropping with his bad feet.


Vol State 2011 Josh Holmes, with Crew

3:30 am Sunday: Feeling really good. So cop (sheriff) pulls me over to warn of a wild BAAAAAARRRRRR up ahead. Confused me because ive never heard of a bear in these parts. I said, “bear?” and he said, “yeah, them drunks come out of there wide open. I just wanted to warn ya! I thanked him and he basically escorted me through the small town with his lights on.

Started back 11:55pm. Slept 1.5 hours but several hours off feet. I just talked to Naresh. He is moving at 125. His feet are all blisters, in pain. But he is tough- Josh Holmes

Vol State 2011 Day 4 Map

Been laying here 3 hours sleepless. I give. I’m toast if I don’t get zzzz soon

Navin Sadarangani likes this.

Missy Hensley-Ivie Take at least one 25 mg benadryl and set the alarm clock. Cold shower when you get back up to wake you up good, as well as help with your muscles like you’ve been doing. Maybe that will help? You have to sleep so your body repairs itself or it will eventually shut down…so you may need a little help with the benadryl. Goodluck! You can do this! If anyone can, YOU can!:)12 hours ago · Like

Stephanie Irwin Murdock Do some deep breathing – slow in thru your nose, slow out thru your mouth. Your energy is amazing. But rest now. Let your team do the thinking. 12 hours ago · Like

Navin Sadarangani I agree with Stephanie. Do some relaxed breathing brother. it helps, not just mentally. even physically, releases all the strain and balance your energy levels in your body.11 hours ago · Like

Tracy Pellizzari i agree too… ‘cept i like to breathe in through my nose and out through my nose. i focus on breathing like a baby… where your tummy expands as you breathe in, and goes back down as you breathe out. seems to calm me.11 hours ago · Like

Lisa Gonzales All good advie from everyone. I hope you get some sleep! Rest up!11 hours ago · Like

Joseph Nance Sounds like your heart rate is up if you are having issues with sleeping. With the blood pumping through your body faster than normal you probably should work on some deep breathing to help control it. I hope you are hydrated, and your blood hasn’t started to thicken, because that could possibly cause this also. Either way rest as long as you need, the road will still be there when you’re ready.10 hours ago · Like

Joshua Holmes Thanks for the great tips.

This is Laz’s Update from last night although things have probably changed shape again throughout the night and wee morning hours.

From: lazarus lake <drystoneman@hotmail.com>

Date: July 16, 2011 8:38:11 PM CDT

To: <ultra@listserv.dartmouth.edu>, <volstate@irun100s.com>

Subject: alliances vol-state 9

a regular, and expected feature of the vol-state

are the numerous lead changes & ever shifting positions among the field.

what sometimes escapes notice are the alliances.

small bands of runners,

often composed of the most unlikely combinations,

form and dissolve as the days and nights on the road pass by.

sure, everyone is racing to be first to the rock,

and most of these runners will not hesitate to take advantage of weakness

when the rock finally comes into view…

but when the rock is so far away,

sometimes it is the strength they draw from one another

that will carry them throught the difficult stretches.

one of the driving forces that places runners together,

or separates them

(and keeps the order of placement in constant upheaval)

is the need for rest.

all the runners must leave the course now and then,

but there is no single approach embraced by all.

some sleep at night, some during the day.

most aim for minimal breaks,

but anyone could be forced to take a long one now and then.

for all the value that a temporary alliance might have,

everyone knows the truth.

when your companion is no longer moving at a pace,

or folowing a schedule, that helps you,

it is time to split up.

2 days 12 hours update:

don winkley 150-past hohenwald & moving

mike matteson 144-in hohenwald & stopped

(matteson briefly caught winkley in hohenwald)

abi meadows 127-sitting in the buffalo river just past linden

joe judd 125-sleeping in linden with a swollen ankle

sal coll, naresh kumar, and sherry meador 108-past parsons & moving

fred davis & fred murolo 106-sleeping in the same motel in parsons, altho neither knows the other is there

joe ninke 106-his race ended in parsons

josh holmes 102-sleeping

stu gleman, john price, & shannon burke 102 -approaching parsons and passing josh (if you snooze, you looze)

lynnor & erika matheny 96 -leaving lexington & on the move

paul lefelhocz 92-sleeping in lexington, but climbing into the race after an 18 hourt late start

diane taylor- last seen at 92, passing back by paul

marvin skagerberg-61 nearing huntingdon after a major break in mckenzie


Posted in Marathon, Race Reports, Running, Ultra Marathon, Vol StateComments (0)

Josh, Laz & Ninke Vol Sate 2011 Mile 96

Day 3: The Last Annual Vol State 500K Live Blog

A lot of ugly miles to finish today. I should have retreated to hotel sooner to recover. We (and not just runners) often get caught up in #’s. Since the beginning of time it’s just a one sided romance. Numbers don’t care about you and have never returned love to anyone. -Josh  Holmes

osh, Laz & Ninke Vol Sate 2011 Mile 96

Vol State 2011 Day 3

Almost 100 Miles in!

Things observed 98 miles into #vs500k. A turtle’s hard shell is not really that hard. And the chicken crossed the road because he was the only animal that could do it successfully!

12:30 pm Day 3:

Joshua Holmes

I might be overhydrated. Every tree is starting to look good, every 5 min!

Day 2 and 3 Vol State

Day 3 Vol State 2011 The Wee Hours

Day 3 Vol State Map 2011

For the runners of the Vol State Race, it is difficult to know when one day ends and another begins.  So we will go ahead and post the latest from Lazarus Lake, from last night.  Some were sleeping and some were awake in the wee hours.  It seems there was some rain for those using the bright moon of early this morning as their guide.

From: lazarus lake <drystoneman@hotmail.com>

Date: July 15, 2011 9:34:32 PM CDT

To: <ultra@listserv.dartmouth.edu>, <volstate@irun100s.com>

Subject: the endless march of suffering: vol-state 7

people are settling in to life on the road.

they run & walk, they eat, and they sleep.

is there anything else in life?

after 36 hours:

joe ninke retook the lead & is at 106 (in parsons) but he is again holed up in a motel (the omelia motor lodge).

he has abandoned the wiggle wagon & swears he is finished. “too much suffering”

don w is second at 96 heading out of lexington,but is coming off a break & good to go

abi meadows is 3rd at the turn in lexington (92) and who can guess what she will do next.

not even abi knows for sure.

after that it is a logjam.

mike mattison was last sighted going to earth at parkers crossroads (82)

naresh kumar is reportedly holed up in the same place

sal coll was at 81,and planning to go thru

fred murolo at 80 intended to bed down at PC

joe judd, at 79 was planning a break at PC

sherry meador in clarksburg at 77 was talking about going thru

as was stu gleman at 75

fred davis at 74…. well,he never stops.

if he can keep going the same direction anything can happen.

after a big gap comes another logjam:

josh holmes, shannon burke, & john price are all bedded down at 68,in huntingdon.

lynnor & erika matheny are at the edge of huntingdon (64) and aiming for PC tonight.

diane taylor is right behind them at 63,but planning to hole up at 68 with the rest.

marvin skagerberg & paul lefcoholcz are both down in mckenzie (56)

with marvin planning to be on the road at dark, and paul, having just arrived,

likely to sleep a little longer.

it will be interesting to see whose plans work out,

and whose blow up.

any guesses who will be leading when the sun comes up?


From: lazarus lake <drystoneman@hotmail.com>
Date: July 15, 2011 9:34:32 PM CDT
To: <ultra@listserv.dartmouth.edu>, <volstate@irun100s.com>
Subject: the endless march of suffering: vol-state 7

From: lazarus lake <drystoneman@hotmail.com>

Date: July 15, 2011 2:17:39 PM CDT

To: <ultra@listserv.dartmouth.edu>, <volstate@irun100s.com>

Subject: what’s cooking? vol-state 7

just a small item of possible interest.

we have a new leader.

73 yo don winkley is about 10 miles up at the turn in lexington.

ninke was still holed upat 82 (parker crossroads),

matteson was just short of 82 (and planning to hole up)

abi was not far behind mike, and planning to go on thru.

so second place is probably a woman by now.

no wonder today’s women complain about the scarcity of good men.


Posted in Marathon, Race Reports, Running, Ultra Marathon, Vol StateComments (1)

End of Day 2 Ice Bath Vol State

Days 1 & 2: The Last Annual Vol State 500K Live Blog

The Josh Holmes Crew Vol State 2011 (Changing Out Bandages)

Vol State 2011 Spectators

Unaided Runner Vol State 2011

End of Day 2 Ice Bath Vol State

From: lazarus lake <drystoneman@hotmail.com>
Date: July 15, 2011 8:05:53 AM CDT
To: <ultra@listserv.dartmouth.edu>, <volstate@irun100s.com>
Subject: hope you guys slept well. vol state 6

everybody is toast.

we had a crew call in, and we could hear the runner talking in the background.

then the runner called in, and we could hear the crew in the background.

gave directions to another runner.

“go down this road here (pointing at road)”

“that road? (points at a different road)”

“no, this road (points at road again)”

runner speaks more slowly (as if we dont understand)

“that road? (points at different road again)

“no, this road (points at road yet again)”

then carl complicated things.

“at the end of the road,turn right.”


“you have to turn, the road ends.”


“no, right”

“this road? (points at wrong road again)”

we watched him walk away,

wondering exactly where he would be the next time we saw him.

as promised, things have changed.

ninke still leads at 82 (parker crossroad) but he is sleeping

don winkley,at 76 (clarksburg) is moving & may take the lead

mike matteson is past huntingdon at 68,moving like a slow speed train wreck

sal coll and sherry meador are also at 68,but just got a room to sleep

abi meadows is at huntingdon square (67) having breakfast.

(the specialty of the house is pig brains)

naresh kumar is past mckenzie at 59

josh holmes & fred davis are having breakfast in mckkenzie (56)

fred murolo is just returning from a rest break in mckenzie, at 54 miles)

joe judd is approaching mckenzie at 50 m,

followed by marv skagerberg (48), john price (47),

stu gleman (45), & shannon burke (44)

lynnor & erika matheny are finally leaving their room in dresden at 41

diane taylor is revived and approaching dresden at 36

paul lefelhocz is  on the road at last (and in last),

past union city at 21 & in pursuit of the field)

look for mayhem on day 2.

no one feels so bad that they cannot recover

and no one is so strong they cannot “die”

now to go out & survey the carnage first hand.


GPS Location Vol State 2011

From Lazarus at 7:30 pm 7/15/2011

half a day behind them,
now we start to find out who the players are:

ninke is leading,somewhere between gleason & mckenzie
mike matteson is in pursuit,coming into gleason at 47
don winkley is right in the middle of things at 45
sal coll was last seen not far behind don
abi meadows is past dresden at 43.5

there are a bunch of people in dresden,many are stopped for the night.
josh holmes, naresh (we think), shannon burke, fred murola,
joe judd (we think) are all at about 41.
who stops for the night & who goes on,
will define the morning standings.

sherry is coming into dresden at 39

erika,lenore,and fred davis are approaching dresden at 35

john price & stu are right behind them at 33

diane revived and made martin,at 30,
with marvin coming off a rest break at 28.

some of the strategies, be they original or revised,
are starting to show.
we will know a lot more in the morning.


2011 Vol State Runner Joshua Holmes Day 1

2011 Vol State Runner Joshua Holmes on the Road

Vol State Runners at Start 2011

Race Starts July 14, 2011 at 7:30am CDT

It’s finally time to start the 2011 version of The Last Annual Vol State 500K at Dorena Landing, Missouri.  My crew and I will be attempting to live blog at least a little bit every day throughout the race.

The race will finish 314 miles later at Castle Rock, Georgia.

List of Runners Running the #VS500K

Here are some photos from ‘The Last Supper’ at Ryan’s Buffet last night. After eating that Ryan’s food there’s a reason they call it ‘The Last Supper.’

Here are a couple of photos from the dinner:

Other ways to keep track of the race can be found HERE!!

You can still donate to charity:water in connection with running this race at this LINK!

Posted in Running, Ultra Marathon, Vol StateComments (0)

2011 Vol State 500KM Foot Race Across Tennessee

2011 Vol State 500K Runners, Maps, Tracking, Etc.

It’s time, once again, for one of the craziest ultra marathons in the United States to take place.  This race takes place in the middle of July, every summer, and covers most of the great state of Tennessee as it toasts most who decide to conquer it.

The description of ‘The Last Annual Vol State 500K Foot Race’ from it’s Facebook page describes the race like this:

This is the original vol-state road race, going back for over 30 years. ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!! The last supper will be held at Ryans in Union City, TN on Wednesday july 13. The ferry ride from Dorena Landing (MO) to Hickman (KY) will take place on Thursday, July 14… The first ferry leaves MO at @ 7:30 am. Most of us will ride to the start from KY on the 7:00 am ferry. The race distance is 500km (actually a hair longer) and the race will finish at Castle Rock (GA). The last 1/2 mile is on trails! Time limit is 10 days (50km per day) The course record of 3 days 17 hours is held by DeWayne Satterfield of Alabama. Relays are allowed… if we ever get enough relay teams, we will start them on sat morning, and let them run down the solo runners!! Two solo divisions, aided and unaided. Unaided runners can leave their vehicles at the finish, and we will have transportation to the start. (314 Miles)

Read More on the History of The Last Annual Vol State 500K

This is the weather advisory that The National Weather Service issued the following warning for Union City, TN (where the race runs through in the early stages) today:







The only thing more intimidating than the weather is the trash the VS500 veterans talk on the email threads regarding this race.

Here are the maps for the 2011 race via John Price’s ultra running website:

2011 Vol State 500K Road Maps & Turn Sheets

A VS 500K record of 22 runners have signed up so far for the race this year.

List of runners who have committed to the 2011 Vol State 500K: (as of July 8, 2011)

Self Supported Runners
Sal Coll
Fred Davis
Stu Gleman
Lynnor Matheney
Erika Matheney
Sherry Meador
Abi Meadows
Michael Montgomery
Kumar Naresh
Joe Ninke
Mike O’Melia
John Price
Marvin Skagerberg
Diane Taylor

Crewed Runners
Ray Baum
Shannon Burke
Joshua Holmes
Joe Judd
Mike Matteson
Fred Murolo
Don Winkley
Trixie Smith

Ways to Track the 2011 Vol State 500K Race:

You can donate to Joshua and Naresh’s charity:water effort to raise $5,000 to build a water well to provide clean drinking water to a community of 250 people (Click HERE to Donate).

Thanks to all of our friends and family that have donated so far in an effort to reach our goal. It means a lot that you’ve taken the effort to support us in this race and our vision of hopefully being able to build this clean drinking well.

What’s 314 Miles? I’m in for The Last Annual Vol State 500K Race

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Joshua Holmes – Andrew Jackson Marathon

What’s 314 Miles? I’m in for the Last Annual Vol State 500K Road Race

I started 2011 with two BIG running goals (to me at least).  One was to run and complete a 100 mile ultra marathon. Back in February, I was able to finish my first 100 miler down in Texas at the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile Trail Race.

The other big race this year I wanted to run (and hopefully finish) is the Last Annual Vol State 500K Road Race (yes, that’s 314 miles) that takes place every July in Tennessee.  Well it starts in Missouri and finishes in Georgia, but 300 of those miles wind through the Volunteer state. Which can get rather toasty in mid July.

The race was started by Lazarus Lake (Gary Cantrell) in 1981.  Runners have a maximum of 10 days to finish the race and end up at ‘The Rock.’

I needed several dominoes to fall into place before I could commit to Vol State.  All the dominoes have fallen.  The planning has begun.  This is my public confession of my insanity and confirmation of my intent to be at the starting line in Dorena, Missouri on July 14th for the 2011 Last Annual Vol State 500K.

My cousins Erick and Blake from Kansas are coming down to crew me for the week.

I have no clue if I can complete this race. I’ve done 100 miles before, once! This will be 214 more miles on top of that.

I believe I can, but it’s the unknown and makes me a bit crazy in the head thinking about it.  I stay up late at night looking at maps and attempting to come up with a strategy on how to attack it. I will have to be very disciplined and run within myself until I reach the finish.

Any friends or runners who want to join me at any part, and run that day or several miles that day with me, are welcome to join me.  Email me or tweet me @bayou and we will set it up.

I am going to try to live blog the race (while competing) here on Run It Fast and also on my Facebook Running Fan Page (Like it HERE).  You can also follow me on Twitter @bayou if you so desire.

Who Benefits From Such a Selfish Act of Running 314 miles?

I have few policies in life. One of those policies is that if you are going to do something that could result in your death, then you should raise money in the process to help benefit those less fortunate.

So here is what I’m going to do in connection with running a 500K.  I run a lot of races.  Runers at all of these races, even half-marathons and 5K’s, almost always rant and complain because there wasn’t enough water or a water table close enough for them.  Runners will have the biggest hissy fit if they go more than 15-20 minutes without a volunteer standing there offering them water.

So I’ve decided to raise money through Charity: Water to help build a water well in one of 17 developing third world countries. The well will provide actual clean drinking water to men, women, and children who desperately need clean water for survival.

With your help, we will raise $5,000 over the next couple of months. With that money, we will provide a permanent water source to 250 men, women, and children in need.  That’s 50 families which usually makes up an entire community.

The reach of clean water doesn’t stop at hydration. It allows more time for other essential things that can be done instead of walking for hours to find water. Women and children can spend more time learning to read & write and developing skills needed for survival in the 21st century.

View my Charity: Water page to help build a well to give water to 250 people for life.

DONATE HERE: 314 Miles – Water for 250 men, women, and children!

If you don’t have much today then donate a little. Then come back and donate a little more. Just like 314 miles, we will help build a well a little piece at a time.
Thanks in advance for your truly amazing support!

– joshua

I will be running the 2011 Last Annual Vol State  500K in memory of Charlie Reagan (Read More Here).

A great running friend who was murdered on June 16, 2011.

Unofficial (Official) Last Annual Vol State 500K Website

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RUTS – Carson Park Horse Track 103 Laps

Run Under the Stars 10 Hour Endurance Race (RUTS) Race Report

Run Under the Stars 10 Hour Endurance Race – June 11-12, 2011

This was my second year running the Run Under the Stars 10 Hour Endurance Race in Paducah, Kentucky put on by the West Kentucky Runner’s Club.  Race director Steve Durbin does a great job putting on this race as well as the Land Between the Lakes trail races.

The race takes place at the Carson Horse Park there in Paducah. It’s a half-mile horse track that is composed of crushed limestone.  The track is wide and more than accommodated the 75 or so runners that took part this year.

The race uses chip timing and keeps track of every lap you make during the 10 hour race. You can run as much or as little as you want. You can even run, rest, nap, camp out, then run some more if you want. Race standings are posted throughout the race to help track the competition.  A TV monitor also posts your lap count every time you cross the tracking mat under the race tent.

An aid table is positioned right there on the track that you naturally pass every 1/2 mile. This made the need to carry a fuel belt or water bottle less important. The table was fully stocked throughout the night with water, Gatoraide, and Heed for drinks. It then had an assortment of foods that included watermelon, oranges, candy, potato chips, and even pizza & ice cream as the race grew long.

Runners that show up for this race often have varying goals. Some want to run something as short as a half-marathon while others want to tackle a long ultra-distance of 50+ miles or more.

Weather for this year’s event was cooler with temperatures in the 70’s for most of the race after a storm front had moved through the area earlier in the day. Last year it was in the mid 90’s at the start and never dipped below 84 degrees.  So the weather this year was a lot more ideal for running.

Last year, I had found the race online and thought it sounded unique, quirky, and fun. It was within driving distance so I said what the heck. I had a blast obviously as I returned this year for more. I was also excited that I was able to persuade other tormented souls into joining me in the rat race around the oval track this year.

The theme song for the race, that got stuck in my head after hearing it on the radio on the drive up, was the Smashing Pumpkins lyric, “Despite all my rage, I’m still just a rat in a cage.” It was and is the perfect song and lyric for RUTS because we were all rats out on that oval cage running off our rage and whatever eats at us and drives us to push our bodies to the limit.

At RUTS you are always doing one of two things, either lapping someone or getting lapped. You actually get to know your fellow runners unlike most races where you might only see the competition at the start, finish, and perhaps for a few seconds in between as you run.  So you find yourself talking to the other runners, who are friendly and eager for any opportunity to distract him or herself from the 10 hour clock that is ticking down.

For that very fact, it’s a great race to run with friends that are faster, slower, or normally run a different distance than you since you can spend time with them every few laps as you make your rounds.

My good running friends Chris Estes, Scott Stader, and Naresh Kumar trusted me enough to take my word to join me for the race this year.

I showed up at the horse track at 6:30pm for the 8:00pm race start. See that is the other thing. This race starts at 8pm and then you run throughout the night until 6am, hence the ‘Run Under the Stars’ name.

After arriving, I quickly put up my tent, along with Naresh’s help.  Inside the track’s infield there is ample space to park, pitch a tent, roast marshmellows or do almost anything one desires.  Estes and Stader arrived soon after and quickly joined the ultra party.

Upon check we received our race bib along with other great goodies like a West Kentucky Runner’s Club running hat, tote bag, tech shirt, and fuel belt.

The tent and our vehicles were just 35 feet or so from the horse track. The tent was in front of our cars. Then in front of our cars, just a foot or two off the track, we placed our lawn chairs where we placed all our race gear we thought we might need throughout the night. This way we could just step off the track, grab what we want, then step right back on without losing valuable time tracking inside the infield to get personal belongings.

The field had 66 runners this year and 4 relay teams. The relay team runners were often easy to spot because they zipped by me because they had only been running for an hour or short distance. It’s always hard to gauge who is running hard or the furthest on a 1/2 mile loop because you never know the other runner’s goals or if they are going to run the entire time. Someone is naturally going to run harder and faster if they are just running a half-marathon distance or are part of a relay team. You also never know if this or that runner has been resting the past hour in their tent as you’ve been downing more miles.

I came in trying to have no expectations, to just run well and listen to my body…but in the back of my head I wanted to run 50 miles. I also wanted to top my 50.5 mile distance of last year.

When the race began I started at around a 9 minute/mile pace and ran the first three miles at this pace before I realized it was probably too fast a pace. I decided to slow down a bit and let my heart rate come down to help me find a comfortable rhythm. I didn’t want to labor, especially just 30 minutes into a 10-hour event.

I didn’t eat anything the first couple of hours. I just drank water and Nuun. The Nuun is good stuff and about 100x better than Gatoraide.  After the first hour I had finished approximately 6.5 miles.

I hit 12 miles at 1:57 and the half-marathon mark at around 2:08. I would talk with friends and strangers as I continued to put down miles. I brought headphones in case I wanted to listen to music at some point, but I never broke them out. I don’t like having to wrestle with headphones, cords, and sweaty ear holes while trying to run.

With an ultra you can’t just worry about hydration. You also have to worry about nutrition and replacing the calories and carbs you are burning up.  You will wilt and die if you refuse to eat. Of course eating when you don’t feel like eating is usually just as difficult. I started with simple stuff like watermelon and oranges. I also would take a Gu Roctane about every 40 minutes.

After 3 hours I was at 18 miles. After 4 hours, 23.2 miles. My runner never really slowed as the night progressed, but I had to walk for a 1/10th of a mile once or twice a lap after the first couple of hours as my ankles became extremely tender from some of the divots in the track from the horses.

Around midnight the pizza arrived!  I took two slices and neatly stacked them on top of each other as I took off for another lap. I ran the next mile while slowly eating both pieces of pizza. The pizza tasted great and provided several hundred calories that would come in handy later on.

I reached the marathon distance (26.2 miles) in 4:35 and had 28.2 miles banked at 5 hours, the half-way point.

At 6 hours I had finished 33.3 miles. I knew I had a good shot of reaching 50 miles if my body would hold up. My ankles, tender and sore from very early in the race, made me wonder if my running would turn into a March of Dimes walk-a-thon. I was hoping my short walk breaks every half mile would be enough to allow me to continue to run it fast until the end.

When I reached 32 miles, I came across Estes on a lap. He looked a bit beat up and told me he had developed a painful blister on the bottom of one of his feet. He had tried to tape it, but the blister seemed determined to slow down Estes or end his night….which it did.

Estes, to my shock, told me he was going to finish another lap and call it a night with 34.5 miles.  He was going to play it smart. Something runners, and especially those like Estes and myself, rarely do.

He made the right call.

So Estes retired to the lawn chair near the track and did a great job of offering the rest of us encouragement and support for most of remaining 4 hours.

35 miles came at 6:22 and 40 at 7:23.  I had over 2.5 hours to do at least 10 miles. I had my iPhone out to recalculate the pace I would need to reach 50 miles ever so often when I’d hit a milestone (marker).  I stayed strong and the pace I needed continued to become a larger and larger number….a good thing!

One of the best things that happened during the race took place took place with just a few hours left. I had been expecting and waiting upon it as well. I finished a lap and saw three volunteers standing there, each with a separate box. One had Bomb popsicles, the other Nutty Buddies, and the third had fudgesicles. I grabbed the chocolate one and that ice cream, that had  naturally melted a bit in the heat, tasted like fresh cocoa milk off a cow’s udder. It was heavenly and so yum!

Those magical volunteers from the big RD in the Sky were there for several more laps with all three ice cream options. I turned it down after the first time for fear my over-indulgence might cause a stomach problem that would turn me into Cary Morgan around mile 20 of a marathon.

With 22 minutes left, as the clock hit 9:38, I reached my goal of 50 miles. I felt good though so I kept running.  The miles weren’t easy at this point, but they weren’t hard either. I was still running 80% of each lap at a 9:10ish pace. I’d walk just long enough to catch my breath, bring my HR down, and rest my ankles.

I came around on lap 102 (51 miles) and saw I had plenty of time to attempt another lap. So I did, but I noticed quickly that my arms and fingers were tingling and going a bit numb. I quickly decided I didn’t want to die on a horse track in Paducah and walked a good bit of that last lap.

I finished with 51.5 miles in 9:58:42.

Naresh finished with 51.5 miles as well. We tied for 6th out of 66 solo runners. Stader finished his first ultra, a 50K.  Estes completed his third ultra with 34.5 miles.

103 Laps on a 1/2 Mile Horse Track (via Garmin)

103 laps around an oval horse track, in the middle of the night, might like a bad idea to some people, but RUTS is a great race that allows you to run with and alongside your friends until the race clock runs out of tick-tocks.

I’ve run 204 laps around that horse track the past two years.  I’ll likely be back next year for more.  I plan to bring even more running friends with me next year!

Joshua Holmes

[Other runners I enjoyed running with, spending time with, and seeing once again included Sulaiman Seriki, Diane Taylor, John Price, Mike Youngblood, Bruce Tanksley, Gary Cantrell (Lazarus Lake), and Stu Gleman to name a few.]

[photo: Scott Stader]

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