VS: day 3
While I was eating I decided to book a motel in the next town, Hohenwald, ~18 miles away. There was no availability showing online so I shelved my dislike of phones and phoned the one motel on the route, the Embassy Inn. They were obviously expecting runners. They asked me when I was planning to arrive, and when I replied 3 asked whether that was am or pm. I also had a look at the online tracking sheet and was amazed to discover that I was only ~5 miles behind the leading pack of screwed runners (the first 2 crewed runners were a long way ahead). (I may have sent a text to the OH with this information including the phrase “jesus f christ”...) I only have one speed (slow), so I’m used to being at the back of the pack and then, if the event lasts longer than 12 hours, working my way through to mid-field. However for the first time in my life I’d gone out too hard. The runners who’d overtaken me overnight had been resting more and moving faster, so the gap to the front-pack was only going to increase and I was likely to be moving backwards rather than forwards.
I stocked up on water and snacks for the long, shop-less stage ahead. The girl on the check-out got really excited because she’d never met an English person before. It initially seemed a bit OTT, but then I realised that I’d have probably reacted in the same way if an American had passed through the small village I grew up in. There are in fact a lot of similarities between rural Tennessee and rural Somerset, Tennessee is just more spread-out and much, much hotter.
In the half hour I was inside eating it had already got hot. I slathered on the sun screen and bought even more water from a gas station. The next stretch was quite scenic and initially quite pleasant. It was the first time I really noticed the roadkill. I’d spotted scaly remains before, and had assumed it was some sort of snake. But now, seeing them earlier in the decay process, I realised it was armadillo armour. And the ones which were less squashed/eaten stunk. I got into the habit of putting my hand over my mouth and breathing through my nose every time I spotted one coming up.
The first 7 or 8 miles flew by, but then it really dragged. There was nowhere to shelter from the Sun. A couple of time I sat down on drives, but sitting in the Sun didn’t really help and I was rattling through my water supplies. Like the previous afternoon the sky clouded over, and it started raining heavily and thundering. But this time the storm went on for hours. I was counting the seconds between the lightening and the thunder (I’d decided I’d look for shelter if the gap got down to 2 secs). The storm seemed to be rolling around, getting closer, going away and then coming back again. I did at least discover an unexpected advantage to waterproof poncho wearing: you can wee discretely by the side of the road.
I plodded on, hoping I was getting close to the first gas station outside Hohenwald, but not wanting to get my phone out to check in the heavy rain. I was rationing my water, which in turn had stopped me eating. I was extremely happy to see a sign directing runners to water underneath a carport. The couple living in the house came out and we chatted for a bit, I signed their guestbook, explained that it wasn’t actually the last edition of the race and got some water and food down. They broke the news that the gas station on the outskirts of Hohenwald was actually still another 3 miles away. But now I’d had a short break and some food and water that didn’t seem so bad.
Before I got there I had painful stomach cramps. Fortunately there were some trees I could dash behind, as yellow semi-liquid poo pushed out everything else that was in my bowels. The result of the somewhat greasy breakfast I’m guessing. Eventually I made it to Hohenwald and this time I stocked up on food before heading to the motel, so I could eat before checking-in early (144 miles) and sleeping. Otherwise my routine was the same as the previous night with 2 differences. i) I didn’t put my pants back on as, despite being made of thin, wicking fabric, they’d felt like a wet nappy the night before ii) I didn’t arrive till late afternoon (so much for avoiding the heat of the day) so it was already dark when I left.
My first destination was Walmart for food and medical supplies. The chafing issues meant I was getting through my sudocrem supplies far faster than expected, the foot taping was using up my KTtape and my expensive suncream was getting sweated straight off me and my skin was frying. I needed to make space in my pack for the extra supplies, so I ditched my fluorescent vest. It had annoyed me on the 1st night, it fact it had annoyed me on the only other occasion I’d worn it so I was happy to see the back of it. I also bought lots of water, a sandwich (turkey, but they didn’t have any veg ones so I resorted to taking the meat out), some pouches of baby food, crisps and my new found nectar, Mountain Dew, and had a picnic on the pavement outside. Walmarts are huge: the walk across the car park and then around the store was probably a good fraction of a mile, but it was well worth it.
The road out of Hohenwald was long, wide and straight, but it also seemed to be downhill so I actually managed a fair bit of running (and my undercarriage felt a lot happier without pants). It was very misty, which gave the odd sensation of being in a bubble. I stopped briefly at the campground near Natchez Trace Parkway, hoping to use their toilet, but it was locked, so I weed on the grass instead. The road into Hampshire got a bit more bendy and interesting and I continued making what seemed like good progress. I stopped at the vending machine outside the store there for my, now customary, Mountain Dew.
My usual post-dawn tiredness hit me, so I lay down on a drive leading into a field and set my alarm for a 10 minute nap. I only managed 5 though as a truck sped by and I woke up panicking that I’d fallen asleep on the shoulder. That, and a couple of caffeine tablets, was enough to wake me up though and I continued moving at a decent pace up till the 7.30am check-in. I sat down on a very nice driveway and checked in: 169 miles. More than half-way in 3 days, however my focus was still a sub 7 day finish. I put on my hat, sleeves and sunglasses, slathered the remaining exposed skin in my new factor 100, allegedly sweat-proof, sun-cream and set off again.